Nac unveils virtual biennale |23 March 2021
Visual artists from Seychelles and international countries will now be able to display their biennale 2020 pieces through a virtual exhibition and catalogue.
The launch ceremony took place at the National Arts Council (Nac) office yesterday afternoon and was attended by the chief executive of Nac, Jimmy Savy; the principal secretary for Culture, Cecil Kalebi; the ambassador for Culture Patrick Victor; the Mayor of Victoria, David Andre; artists among other guests.
The 2020 exhibition was officially set for April 2020 but the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic caused the exhibition to be postponed.
Speaking at the launch, Mr Savy said that the international event provides a platform where artists can express through their art works the tangible and intangible aspects of the arts and how it is of benefit to the society.
He added that it is also a way to showcase Seychelles in the art world.
In total 39 artists were selected to take part in the biennale – 17 from Seychelles and 22 international.
“We wanted to create a platform where artists would be able to continue showing their work even if we could not have a physical exhibition,” said Mr Savy.
He also thanked all Seychellois artists who have participated in this programme and elevated Seychelles art.
He also took the opportunity to thank the international artists who have taken part.
While the exhibition's title, ‘Lost and Found’, was decided long before Covid-19 hit, its striking resonance with the pandemic has provided an opportunity to consider the cataclysm through the ambiguous frame that escape routes appropriately capitalise on.
Martin Kennedy, Curator for the biennale, said that for Seychelles to have a significant presence in the biennale and the work of local artists to be seen by millions is something we should take pride in.
Christine Chetty Payet, whose work titled ‘Fear and Isolation’ is on display in the virtual exhibition said that the different symbols and elements used in her work make reference to the Covid-19 pandemic which has wrought worldwide disaster and great uncertainties among individuals.
The materials used by Mrs Chetty Payet consist of papier-mâché, fabrics and paint.
“From my perspective, the concept of social and physical distancing remains a major challenge for small communities like Seychelles, and which can eventually take a psychological toll on people. The different measures put in place to prevent the transmission of the virus seem unnatural and awkward because many people are unable to function in isolation. On the other hand, the lockdown period was perceived as a privilege few people could afford while various arguments suggested that it jeopardised many people’s livelihoods,” she said.
The artist continued by noting that during this period of great uncertainty, she was inspired to explore the concept of social and physical distancing.
“I proposed a circular form in my work which becomes a constant reminder that the virus remains a health risk despite various measures put in place. The depiction of the hands and figures denotes the importance of hygiene and social distancing,” said Mrs Chetty Payet.
Another Seychellois artist who took part in the exhibition is Mona Camille. Her work titled ‘The Lost Supper’ is a three-minute video piece which was filmed by various people around then stitched together to make a full length video.
“‘The Lost Supper’ is a response to the experience of lockdown. It explores the notion of togetherness with the constraint of physical separation. While practicing social distancing at home I have noticed that some social relationships were paused while other social bonds became stronger on virtual platforms. It felt like we carefully chose the ones to sit and share a moment with, even though we weren’t sitting at the same table,” said Ms Camille.
Using Leonardo Da Vinci’s fresco of ‘The Last Supper with Jesus and his Apostles’ as a visual inspiration, the piece invites thirteen performers to perform alone at home and come together virtually. Music and video become media to create unity – all brought into a collage for one shared experience around La Grande Table – inviting audiences to reflect on what we gained as well as what we lost during lockdown.
The exhibition is available for viewing on www.lockdown-biennale.sc and features the work of every artist who have participated.
The next physical biennale is set for July 2022.