Filip Markiewicz @ Luxembourg Pavilion, Venice

Review by Anna Danielewicz | 19 May 2015

During the opening weeks of the Venice Biennale, the likelihood of stumbling upon a vernissage – the preferred term for a private view – simply by following the general cheer is remarkably high. The feeling that anything could happen is certainly in the air, and the opening party of Paradiso Lussemburgo can be heard three blocks away. It is a solo show by Filip Markiewicz representing Luxembourg. At first glance, the exhibition appears to be contained within the private courtyard of the imposing Palazzo Ca' del Duca, filled with platters of risotto and pinot noir. Were it not for 80s synth pop blaring from the corner, one might completely bypass the exhibition itself.

The show is framed by a neon sign quoting Oscar Wilde, ‘The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.’ In the first room, the audience is invited to join the cast by delivering karaoke renditions of popular protest songs. There is more music coming from the final room of the show, We Have the Disco in Order Not to Die of the Truth. Drummer and DJ are blasting away, while performers take shifts on an LED dance floor, flashing bold slogans mourning the death of truth. Intricate pencil drawings of scheming financiers and disillusioned protesters echo some of that desperation. Confronting the popular image of Luxembourg as a fiscal paradise, the rooms are littered with stacks of hundred franc notes denominated ‘SORRY.’

At the heart of the exhibition, artificial roses are dripping rich red liquid into a bathtub. Poised on its edge is an actor, prompting the audience to imagine the possibility of a world where no human body is bound by religious or political borders. All the while, he is getting steadily drunk on red wine. Asked if the show has been fun to put together, he can’t deny it. Though he makes a point of saying that the message of the exhibition is, actually, very serious.