Native American represents US for first time at Venice Biennale

(18 Apr 2024)



LENGTH: 6:40

Venice, Italy – 16 April 2024

1. Various of beaded bird sculpture, ‘if there is no struggle there is no progress’, 2024, Jeffrey Gibson. Gibson is the solo artist for the US Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale
2. Various of tall, beaded figures, ‘WE WANT TO BE FREE’, 2024, Jeffrey Gibson
3. Various of exterior of US pavilion, decorated by Gibson
4. Close of engraved stone façade of US pavilion
5. Various of Gibson standing on top of sculpture
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeffrey Gibson, artist:
"I think it’s a hard point to not accept the importance of, and understand the responsibility of being identified as the first, you know, solo (Indigenous) representative of the United States. So I certainly take that on board. But I also think in other areas of my life, my goal has always been to be like let’s get past the first. You know, to me, the first is not the most important story. The first is hopefully the beginning of many, many, many important stories to come."

7. Various of beaded bust, ‘Be Some Body’, 2024, Jeffrey Gibson
8. Various of beaded bust, ‘Treat Me Right’, 2024. Jeffrey Gibson
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeffrey Gibson, artist:
"I think most people are familiar with the traumatic histories of Native American people. But my experiences looking and working with material collections, oftentimes in museum collections where I’ve always found beauty and I’ve always found innovation and I’ve always found craft, and you think, how did this coexist? How were these things made under such duress and under such dire circumstances? Why would somebody choose to make something beautiful? And I think actually, during this process of developing this exhibition for the pavilion, I realized that you’re making a space of freedom. You’re making a space of hope in an object."

10. Wide of two artworks on wall
11. Various of ‘GIVE MY LIFE SOMETHING EXTRA’, 2024, Jeffrey Gibson
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeffrey Gibson, artist:
"I can’t think of a single Indigenous historic object where you would use this many beads. So what we’re able to do in the studio also somehow intersects with the history of couture handwork and the idea of being able to do samples. And I can control sort of like how the beads sit. If we change it from nine beads to ten beads to 12 beads, if we place them an eighth inch closer or eighth inch further apart, the texture has completely changed. And so we use beads from all over the world. I use historic beads. I use vintage beads where we’re using the last of the stock."

13. Various of tall, beaded figures
14. SOUNDBITE (English) Jeffrey Gibson, artist:
"I think I also have grown up looking at op (optical) art, pattern and decoration. I’ve looked at psychedelia, you know, I have taken part in rave culture and like queer culture and drag and the whole spectrum. And so for me, I would be I would be not telling you the whole truth, if I only choose to spoke about indigeneity. But my body as an indigenous body, it’s all funnelled through this body. And so my hope is that by telling my experience that everyone else can project their own kind of intersected, layered experience into the world."

15. Various of tall beaded figures
16. Close of beadwork reading (English) “1866 Civil Rights Act”
17. SOUNDBITE (English) Abigail Winograd, exhibition curator:

18. Various of beaded bird sculpture


For the first time, a Native American is the solo artist for the United States’ pavilion at the Venice Biennale.


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Author: admin