Austrian State Secretary for Cultural Affairs Ulrike Lunacek announced today that Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl, who are frequent collaborators, will represent Austria at the Fifty-Ninth Venice Biennale, which will take place from May through November in 2021. Lunacek praised the “liveliness” of their proposal for the pavilion, which will be curated by Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wein (MUMOK) director Karola Kraus, and said that it lacks neither humor nor satire.
The artists plan to fill the pavilion with paintings, textile works, photographs, objects, audio and video works, and holograms in order to create “spaces of desire” which are meant to “confuse conventional ideas of museum presentations” and “undermine the hierarchies of art and design, of high and low.”
Born in 1970 in Baden, Austria, Knebl worked in geriatric care for ten years before studying fashion at the University of Applied Arts with Raf Simons, who was recently appointed codirector of Prada, and textual sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna with Heimo Zobernig. In 2017, MUMOK allowed her to reinstall its collection of modern and contemporary art, which she mixed with her own newly created works, for the exhibition “Oh…” That same year, Knebl was awarded the Outstanding Art Award in the field of visual arts by the Federal Chancellery of Austria. Knebl currently has solo exhibitions at the Galerie Kargl in Vienna and at Lentos Kunstmuseum in Linz.
Scheirl, born in Salzburg in 1956, studied at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and completed her master’s degree in fine arts at Central Saint Martins College in London in 2003. In recent years, she has had solo exhibitions at the Kunstverein Salzburg and the Künstlerhaus Graz and participated in major international group shows such as Documenta 14. While she is known for her experimental film and moving image works, Scheirl has been focused more on painting in recent years. Her collaborations with Knebl usually result in sprawling mixed-media installations such as La Poupée, le Doigt d’ Or et les Dents: Fou de Rage, which they made for the Biennial de Lyon. Comprising solo and joint works, the piece centered on the concept of constructing and deconstructing identities. Last year, the duo also created a monumental, 230-foot-high work for the facade of Vienna’s city hall tower, which is currently undergoing renovations.