The Northern Irish, Glasgow-based artist Cathy Wilkes has been selected by the British Council to represent the Great Britain at next year’s 58th Venice Biennale (which will run 11 May - 24 November 2019). Wilkes’s exhibition will be curated by the Tate Modern’s curator of international art Zoe Whitley.
Wilkes is known for her unexpected, intimate installations which might draw on anything from papier-mâché sculptures and toy animals to pipe-cleaners and trays of petrol – with mannequins arranged in reflective, domestic tableaux. ‘Many of Cathy Wilkes’s installations can be read, in some sense, as self-portraits,’ wrote Will Bradley in a 2007 feature for frieze, ‘albeit ones where the idea of self is fragmented and dispersed, constantly being recovered or assembled from a web of memories, associations, histories and blurred symbols.’ The artist was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2008.
Wilkes has been included several times in past editions of the Venice Biennale. She took part in the group exhibition ‘Selective Memory’ for the Scotland+Venice pavilion in 2005, and her work was shown in the main exhibition ‘The Encyclopaedic Palace’ in 2013. Wilkes is the third female artist chosen for the British pavilion in a row (following Phyllida Barlow last year and Sarah Lucas in 2015).
Chair of the British pavilion selection committee and visual arts director of the British Council, Emma Dexter, commented: ‘Cathy Wilkes’s distinctive and highly personal sculptural installations, evoking the rituals of daily life while alluding to existential questions at the core of human existence, will trigger complex new meanings and atmospherics within the grand domestic architecture of the British Pavilion.’
Wilkes was awarded the inaugural Maria Lassnig Prize last year, which recognizes the work of mid-career artists – the prize came with an award of EUR€50,000 and a solo exhibition at MoMA, PS1 (which closed last month).