Arsenale Sale d’Armi, Castello
30122 Venezia VE

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La Biennale di Venezia | Tunisian Pavilion : Mounir Fatmi The Absence of Paths

Tunisian Pavilion

Mounir Fatmi The Absence of Paths


May 13th – 26th November 2017

NSK State Pavilion, May 11th – 15th July 2017


Kiosks, Navy Checkpoint, Arsenale, Campo della Tana, 30122 Venezia Campiello Tana, 2127, 30122 Venezia, Italy

Kiosks Arsenale, Sale D’Armi – Sale Diarmi, Arsenale, Campo della Tana, 30122 Venezia Campiello Tana, 21680 30122 Venezia, Italy

Kiosk on the corner of via Garibaldi and Riva Dei Sette Martini, 30122 Venezia Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, 1648 30122 Venezia, Italy

The Absence of Paths is a human performance staged across Venice which, for the duration of the Biennial, represents an idyllic microcosm of the world: a place where human beings may still flow freely from one nation to the next. This is represented in a physical travel document called a Freesa, produced with the help of Veridos, a leader in producing secure identification papers for countries and companies around the world.

Freesas will be issued at three locations both inside and outside the perimeter of the Biennale: the Navy Kiosk, a historic outdoor checkpoint which was used by the Navy to control access to the Arsenale shipyard, located on across the China Pavilion, a central issuing centre in the Sale d’Armi building inside the Arsenale, and a 19th-century municipal kiosk on Via Garibaldi between the Arsenale and the Giardini. Together, they will create a triangular pavilion.

This installation will empower each and every visitor towards shedding the divisive baggage and classifications imposed upon people. The carefully developed collateral event, at the heart of the pavilion, will form the basis of a silent, individual protest.

Should they choose, all participants will retain the flexibility to significantly, albeit creatively, amplify their dissent, as they continue their journeys through Venice and beyond.

In addition to visitors from across the world, The Absence of Paths will leverage the active contributions of young aspirational migrants. Their passage to the Biennale by virtue of being part of an artistic practice at an internationally recognized contemporary art event will highlight contemporary art’s status as a global phenomenon, one which maintains the ability to inspire debate and inquiry.


During the vernissage (May 10th-13th), we are pleased to invite you to a series of performances. Each act is set against a soundscape of unique musical recordings of fading music traditions in Tunisia. These anthropological recordings are a compilation of seven years of research across Tunisia, from Mednine, Kasserine, and Dembla to Khness. For the Arte Biennale 2017, the artists have focused on music from the rural towns of Ghomrassen and Guermassa in the southwest of Tunisia. This music, sung by naked female voices without musical accompaniment, was generally sung during marriages, and are a testament to the preservation of traditions through the body. Several rhythmical instruments, including the tbal and ghayta played specifically by men in Guermassa, are interwoven with the vocals. Both of these musical traditions are disappearing as people migrate out of these villages, leaving behind towns deprived of both people and sound. These rural recordings are fused with conceptual electronic sounds creating a new style that highlights both Tunisia’s past and its future.*

Poetry at Via Garibaldi, Wednesday May 10th at 10:30

Liliya Benromdhane with Nikolaos Symeonidis

Song at Sale d’Armi, Thursday May 11th at 10:30

Ghalia Ben Ali with HEARD Live (Nikolaos Symeonidis feat. Anas Ghrab)

Dance at Navy Kiosk, Friday May 12th at 10:30

Oumayma Mani (choreographed by Syhem Belkhodja) with HEARD Live (Nikolaos Symeonidis feat. Anas Ghrab)

Please check back as new performances will be scheduled throughout the duration of Arte Biennale 2017.

*The musical artists would like to thank the people of Ghomrassen and Guermassa for so kindly sharing their musical traditions, and without which, this performance would not be possible. 


Mounir Fatmi
Born 1970 in Tangier, Morocco, Mounir Fatmi lives and works between Paris and Tangier. His work deals with the desecration of religious objects, deconstruction and the end of dogmas and ideologies. His work has been shown in countless solo shows and group collections, including at the Centre Georges Pompidou, The Brooklyn Museum, Mori Art Museum, and the Victoria & Albert Museum. He is the recipient of the Cairo Biennial Prize in 2010, the Uriöt prize, Amsterdam, the Grand Prize Leopold Sedar Senghor of the 7th Dakar Biennial in 2006


Lawrie Shabibi is pleased to announce the participation of Mounir Fatmi in two innovative pavilions for the 57th Venice Biennale 2017. ‘The Absence of Paths’, the first Tunisian Pavilion in Venice since 1958, uses performance and installation staged in different venues across Venice, as well as an interactive online platform featuring text, video, audio, recipes and photography, to generate further inquiry into issues surrounding human migration. For the exhibition, Mounir Fatmi presents a series of photos from The Exile Pavilion, a traveling project he launched in 2016 that inverts the established structures of temporary exhibitions, questioning ideas of nationhood, exile and various forms of displacement. Curated by Lina Lazaar and commissioned by The Presidency of the Tunisian Republic and the Tunisian Ministry of Cultural Affairs, ‘The Absence of Paths’ collaborated with MOAS, the Migrant Offshore Aid Station, a charity that has helped approximately 35,000 people, mostly refugees escaping violence, persecution and hardship.

‘History Is Not Mine’, Fatmi’s video from 2013, will be exhibited in the NSK-State Pavilion, a unique, independent pavilion that aims to rethink what a contemporary state can be, offering an open form of citizenship which contrasts with that generated by spatially defined states. In the video, ‘History is not mine’, a man repeatedly strikes the keys of a typewriter with hammers, the red ribbon streaming across the white paper like a stream of blood against the otherwise black and white imagery. The noise and action becomes increasingly disturbing, at times violent, calling into question not only the difficulties of language and communication, but the danger in not learning from history, which too often repeats itself, particularly when it comes to land, territory and nationhood. NSK State in Time was founded by the artist collective Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) in 1992. NSK State Pavilion will take place at Ca’Tron, Iuav University, Santa Croce 1957/Calle del Forno 1960, from May 11-July 15, 2017.


Lawrie Shabibi
Unit 21, Alserkal Avenue
Al-Quoz, Dubai
T +971 (0)4 346 9906
F +971 (0)4 346 9902

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