Sigalit Landau Reveals Her Theme for Israel's Venice Biennale Pavilion

As leading artists from nations around the world prepare for the 2011 Venice Biennale, Israeli artist Sigalit Landau has chosen to install three video installations at her country's pavilion that will explore the theme of water. "The theme of her project is political and focuses on what we have to share all together," Landau's co-curator for the exhibition, Jean de Loisy, told ARTINFO France in an exclusive interview. "It refers to 3,000 years of Mediterranean complexity."

De Loisy, who is organizing the project with fellow curator Ilan Wizgan, said that "water will irrigate this pavilion just as blood irrigates the body," with work spread through four or five different sections of the exhibition. He said that Landau will inscribe the pavilion's façade with the words "one man's floor is another man's feelings," a riff on the English proverb "one man's floor is another man's ceiling." 

Landau's work frequently addresses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as in her celebrated "Barbed Hula," a video in the artist spins a hula hoop made of barbed wire — evoking the historically violent cultural divide — around her naked waist. The Dead Sea has been a frequent theme of Landau's, as in her 2008 show at MoMA, which included "DeadSee," a video in which the artist swam amidst floating watermelons shaped in a spiral. She represented Israel at the Venice Biennale previously in 1997 as part of a group exhibition with Yossi Berger and Miriam Cabessa.

The artist has been working on another water-related project recently, collaborating with Jordanian companies to build a bridge of salt connecting Israel and Jordan across a narrow passage of the Dead Sea. However, she decided not to present this project at the Biennale, preferring to dwell, as she usually does, on poetic video imagery that elicits visceral responses from viewers. Indeed, for Jean de Loisy, the great strength of Landau's work is its location "between collective consciousness and poetry."