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In Pictures: Women Looking at Women at the 19th Venice Biennale

Marysia Lewandowska unearthed a collection of photographs while searching the Venice Archives, ahead of her display at this year’s Biennale

At this year’s 58th Venice Biennale, Polish-born London-based artist Marysia Lewandowska presents ‘It’s About Time’ at the Pavilion of Applied Arts, a collaboration between the Biennale and the V&A Museum in London, curated by Ralph Rugoff.

Lewandowska’s project returns to the inaugural edition of the international exhibition, researching the documents of the meetings and ideas which led to the formation of the Biennale in 1895. While the artist has found no official records of women involved in the planning of the Biennale, further research turned up traces of their possible association. Interested in this ambiguity, she invited a group of seven Italian feminists based in London and two Venice-based art historians to script and make an audio recording of a fictional account of the Venice Biennale founded by women.

Speaking about ‘It’s About Time’, Lewandowska said: ‘the project raises questions around how women can revise and inhabit suppressed histories and traditions made without their participation.’

While researching at ASAC, the Biennale’s historic archives, Lewandowska unearthed a series of photographs taken in and around various pavilions during the 19th Venice Biennale in 1934. Gathered under the theme ‘women looking at women’, she explained ‘how the female visitors use the exhibition space to be seen in but also how they appear to perform a kind of transgression.’

‘If you look closely,’ she continued, ‘you notice how through the use of the available exhibition furniture, they are able to assert their own presence, suggesting a form of ownership.’

We present nine of the images selected by Marysia Lewandowska.

Women in front of Aviazione Civile by Alexander Deyneka in the USSR Pavilion, 1934. Courtesy: Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia (ASAC), Fototeca, Arti Visive; photograph: Giacomelli

Women in front of Aviazione Civile by Alexander Deyneka in the USSR Pavilion, 1934. Courtesy: Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia (ASAC), Fototeca, Arti Visive; photograph: Giacomelli

Paintings by Alberto Salietti hang on the walls of the Central Pavilion of the Giardini, Room 27, 1934, photograph. Courtesy: Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia (ASAC), Fototeca, Arti Visive; photograph: Giacomelli

Paintings by Alberto Salietti hang on the walls of the Central Pavilion of the Giardini, Room 27, 1934, photograph. Courtesy: Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia (ASAC), Fototeca, Arti Visive; photograph: Giacomelli

Two women look at a pair of paintings by Tallone Guido in the Central Pavilion, Room 27, 1934, photograph. Courtesy: Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia (ASAC), Fototeca, Arti Visive; photograph: Giacomelli

Two women look at a pair of paintings by Tallone Guido in the Central Pavilion, Room 27, 1934, photograph. Courtesy: Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia (ASAC), Fototeca, Arti Visive; photograph: Giacomelli

Women look at artworks in the Central Pavilion, 1934, photograph. Courtesy: Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia (ASAC), Fototeca, Arti Visive; photograph: Giacomelli

Women look at artworks in the Central Pavilion, 1934, photograph. Courtesy: Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia (ASAC), Fototeca, Arti Visive; photograph: Giacomelli

Women leave the British Pavilion, 1934, photograph. Courtesy: Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia (ASAC), Fototeca, Arti Visive; photograph: Giacomelli

On the steps of the British Pavilion, 1934, photograph. Courtesy: Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia (ASAC), Fototeca, Arti Visive; photograph: Giacomelli

A woman looks at a sculpture by Umberto Pinzauti outside of the Central Pavilion, 1934, photograph. Courtesy: Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia (ASAC), Fototeca, Arti Visive; photograph: Giacomelli

A woman looks at a sculpture by Umberto Pinzauti outside of the Central Pavilion, 1934, photograph. Courtesy: Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia (ASAC), Fototeca, Arti Visive; photograph: Giacomelli

A group of women look at three paintings by Fausto Pirandello in the Central Pavilion, Room 21, 1934, photograph. Courtesy: Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia (ASAC), Fototeca, Arti Visive; photograph: Giacomelli

A group of women look at three paintings by Fausto Pirandello in the Central Pavilion, Room 21, 1934, photograph. Courtesy: Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia (ASAC), Fototeca, Arti Visive; photograph: Giacomelli

Three women assess La Vergine (1933) by Arrigo Minerbi, 1934, photograph. Courtesy: Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia (ASAC), Fototeca, Arti Visive; photograph: Giacomelli

Three women assess La Vergine (1933) by Arrigo Minerbi, 1934, photograph. Courtesy: Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia (ASAC), Fototeca, Arti Visive; photograph: Giacomelli

A woman rests on the sofa in front of Lo Studio (1928) by Felice Carena, 1934, photograph. Courtesy: Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia (ASAC), Fototeca, Arti Visive; photograph: Giacomelli 

A woman rests on the sofa in front of Lo Studio (1928) by Felice Carena, 1934, photograph. Courtesy: Archivio Storico della Biennale di Venezia (ASAC), Fototeca, Arti Visive; photograph: Giacomelli 

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