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Biennial of Venice: João Ribas will curate representation of Portugal

The former director of the Serralves Museum João Ribas was the highest-ranked candidate to commission the representation of Portugal at the 2019 Venice Biennial of Art, according to results published today by the General Directorate of the Arts (DGArtes).

On December 20, the final decision places João Ribas with a final score of 96.95%, 11 points above the runners-up, João Laia and Pedro Barateiro.

The project of João Ribas presents the Portuguese plastic artist Leonor Antunes, who lives and works between Berlin and Lisbon, to represent Portugal at the next Venice Art Biennial.

The other curators who “were willing to accept the invitation” to this contest were, according to DGArtes, Emília Tavares, Filipa Oliveira, João Laia, João Silvério, Leonor Nazaré, Marta Mestre, Sara Antónia Matos and Nuno Faria, who appealed for exclusion and finished third in the standings.

The jury was composed of Nuno Moura (DGArtes), Cristina Góis Amorim (AICEP), Catarina Rosendo (art historian), Jürgen Bock and Sérgio Mah, curators responsible for Portuguese participation in previous editions of the Venice Biennale.

This is the first time that the Portuguese representative at the Venice Biennale of Art is chosen by competition, which has already happened in the selection of the national participation of the Biennial of Architecture of Venice this year.

In 2017, Portugal was represented at the Biennial of Art of Venice by the sculptor José Pedro Croft, on the proposal of the curator and commissioner João Pinharanda.

The 58th International Art Exhibition will take place between 11 May and 24 November 2019 in Venice, curated by the British Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward Gallery in London, and will have the theme ‘Interesting Times’.

After being chosen in January of this year, by international competition, to artistic director of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Serralves, João Ribas resigned in September, accusing the institution of “continued violation” of his “technical and artistic autonomy”, in the controversial case of the exhibition of works of the artist Robert Mapplethorp, accusations that the administration later refuted.

Ribas resigned after the inauguration of Robert Mapplethorpe: Pictures, which he commissioned, which was reduced from 179 to 159 works, the result of “interference and restrictions” of the administration, according to the curator.

In turn, the president of the board of directors of the Serralves Foundation, Ana Pinho, assured that it was the resigning director who removed 20 works from the Mapplethorpe exhibition.

Photographs of nudes, flowers, portraits of artists such as Patti Smith or Iggy Pop, and sexual images are found in this first exhibition in Portugal by the American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, which also included a room reserved for people over 18 years old with works considered more sensitive.

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