Studio Venezia, by Xavier Veilhan
Simultaneously an artist’s studio, recording studio and exhibition space, Studio Venezia, presented by Xavier Veilhan at the Venice Biennale in 2017, combines visual arts and music.
Born in 1963, Xavier Veilhan thinks of himself as a visual artist. His multifaceted work includes sculptures, paintings, videos, photographs and installations. His monumental animal sculptures (a blue lion in Bordeaux, six horses pulling a coach in Metz) and his statues bearing the faces of today’s “starchitects” (Jean Nouvel, Norman Foster) modelled with a 3D-capture technique, combine the formal universalism of classical sculpture with modern subjects and high-tech processes.
The Parisian artist favours teamwork in his workshop, and Studio Venezia, presented at the 57th International Venice Biennale, continues this collaborative aspect.
From workshop to studio
Playing on the double meaning of studio in Italian and English – where it can refer to both a recording studio and an artist’s studio –, Studio Venezia is an immersive installation which transformed the Biennale's French Pavilion into a recording studio-sculpture.
For seven months, musicians from all walks of life were invited to take over the venue, to play and record their works, individually or collaboratively, including artists such as Brian Eno, Sébastien Tellier, Christophe Chassol, Thurston Moore, Éliane Radigue, Nicolas Godin, Zombie, Flavien Berger, and Zeena Parkins, among others.
The audience could walk around and observe this “in situ” creation, less spectators than privileged witnesses to audio material taking shape.
The process exposed
To install Studio Venezia in Venice, the interior of the French Pavilion was completely remodelled with boards made of wood and fabric, in a cluster of cubist modules and acoustic insulation evoking Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau.
In this matrix combining visual arts and music, instruments were placed or sculpted into the space – pianos, drums, Martenot waves, electric guitars and theremins– and made available to musicians. They themselves were assisted by sound engineers, and the whole process of creation (composing, rehearsals, recording) was exposed to the audience's gaze.
A touring studio
To allow visitors from around the world to extend and enrich their experience, a website was created to broadcast the Studio Venezia sound stream.
Designed as the first step in an international journey, this environment was designed to travel, becoming Studio Buenos Aires at the CCK in Buenos Aires in June 2018, then Studio Lisboa at MAAT in Lisbon. This must be the first time a recording studio has gone on tour!
With Studio Venezia, Xavier Veilhan represented France at the Venice International Art Biennale in 2017.
The French Pavilion at the Venice international art and architecture Biennales is put on by the Institut français.
In 1995, Xavier Veilhan was selected to spend time at the Villa Kujoyama, a residency for artists in Japan supported by the Institut français.