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Venice’s nooks and crannies will become sites for performances during 58th Biennale

Delfina Foundation co-organises Meetings on Art programme focused on nationality, gender and queer issues

Paul Maheke's performance Seeking After the Fully Grown Dancer 'deep within' (2016-18) Photo: Sandino Scheidegger

Fourteen performances touching on “the current urgencies that we face at home and abroad” are due to take place during this year’s Venice Biennale (11 May-24 November), says the programme co-curator, Aaron Cezar, the director of London’s Delfina Foundation. The Meetings on Art project, also devised by the biennale’s artistic director Ralph Rugoff, will bookend the biennale with performances scheduled for 8 to 12 May, and 23 to 24 November.

“There will be short, durational episodes in the ‘in-between’ spaces of the biennale’s gardens and galleries and fixed concentrated moments,” Cezar says, adding that the works selected explore the “politics that help form who we are”, looking at gender and nationality among other issues. The Teatro Piccolo Arsenale will also host scheduled performances.

Artists selected for the opening week include Nástio Mosquito, Paul Maheke and Alex Baczynski-Jenkins, along with Florence Peake and Eve Stainton. The duo will present Apparition Apparition, a piece which she describes as “queer apparitional actant, translucid and materialising. [It is] disorientating the condition inside ecological devastation and mass extinction.”

The Canadian artist Zadie Xa will present a new version of her work seen at the Serpentine Gallery in London in 2016 (Linguistic Legacies and Lunar Exploration). Californian artist Boychild will show a work depicting the “hand as a signifier of class and gender”, Cezar says.

The final weekend of the Biennale will encompass events, performances and activities created by Cooking Sections (the London-based duo Daniel Fernández Pascual & Alon Schwabe), Vivian Caccuri, Vivien Sansour and Bo Zheng.

A spokesman for Arts Council England, a project supporter, says that “these artists choose to work in this country. We’re making a clear statement that we are outward looking.” Rugoff said today at a briefing that “it is wonderful to have a performance programme at the beginning and end [of the Biennale]. London, and the UK in general, is a hub for performance art.” Other sponsors and supporters include Canada House, European Arteast Foundation and Bosse & Baum gallery.

POSTSCRIPT (5 April): In an updated statement, Zadie Xa says that her work is loosely based on Talchum, (Korean mask dance drama) and its traditions. "[This is] a new commission drawing on Korean procession rituals, shamanism and forgotten origin myths," she says.