The Sammlung Goetz is Executive Producer for Hubbard / Birchler’s film installation “Flora” in the Swiss Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2017
Flora Mayo was Alberto Giacometti’s first great love. The two met while studying art in Paris. He became a world-famous artist; she fell into oblivion. In Giacometti’s official biography, Flora Mayo plays only a secondary role. A black and white photograph shows the two young artists standing beside an unfired clay bust that Mayo had made of her lover. The artist duo Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler were so captivated by the image that they conducted research on Flora Mayo and developed their findings into a film installation. In the course of their research, they discovered that Mayo had a son, who was unaware of his mother’s artistic past. In their 2-channel video installation Flora (2017), which is currently on view in the Swiss Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, Hubbard / Birchler combine documentary footage with fictional scenes. The reconstructed Bust (2017) is presented together with the original photo.
The American Teresa Hubbard and the Swiss Alexander Birchler have been working together since 1990 and are, like Mayo and Giacometti, a couple. In their narrative film installation, they cross the boundaries between reality and fiction, into which memories, wishes and autobiographical experiences flow. The Sammlung Goetz, which already includes important works by the artist couple such as the trilogy Gregor’s Room (1998/99), Eight (2001) and House with a Pool (2004), funded the development of Flora through its early acquisition.
Flora is not only a tribute to the forgotten artist; it also honors the Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti, who understood himself as a transnational artist and who declined his entire life to exhibit his work in the pavilion of his home country, designed by his brother.
The second contribution to the Swiss pavilion is a group of figures by Carol Bove; the work refers to the sculptural work Femmes de Venise, created by Giacometti in 1962 for the International Pavilion. With the contributions of Hubbard / Birchler and Carol Bove, the curator Philipp Kaiser – in the context of the discussion about the national concept of the Biennale – draws attention to the work of Alberto Giacometti and his complex relationship with Venice.
Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler
Synchronized double-sided film installation with sound
30 mins, loop
Installation view: Swiss Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2017
Courtesy of the artists, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York,
and Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin
Photo credit: Ugo Carmeni