58th Venice Biennle

Cathy Wilkes and Dr Zoe Whitley appointed artist and curator of the British Pavilion

Cathy Wilkes has been selected to represent Great Britain at the 58th Venice Biennale which takes place 11 May – 24 November 2019. The Glasgow-based artist will present a major solo exhibition of new work curated by Dr Zoe Whitley, Curator International Art, Tate.

Cathy Wilkes, Untitled, 2012, installation view, MoMA PS1, 2017. Courtesy: the artist and MoMA PS1; photograph: Pablo Enriquez

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The British Council has announced that Cathy Wilkes has been selected to represent Great Britain at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia , while Tate’s Curator of International Art Dr Zoe Whitley has been appointed to curate the exhibition.

Since the late 1990s, Glasgow-based Cathy Wilkes (b. 1966, Dundonald, Belfast) has built a considerable reputation for sculptural installations of profound and mysterious intensity, which often evoke interiors and places of loss. Cathy Wilkes insists on the private life of the artist, and questions how art can relate to human experience.

Describing Wilkes as “a deeply thoughtful artist”, Senior Curator at The Mac, Belfast and member of the British Pavilion Selection Committee Hugh Mulholland described her presence at the 2019 Venice Biennale as a fitting acknowledgement of her considerable achievements to date.

“Central to Wilke’s practice is a desire to give voice to an inner world, to understand the human condition and to address an emotional deficit at the core of society, a preoccupation which could not be more apt for the current world order,” he said.

Announcing the pairing of artist and curator, British Council Director of Visual Arts Emma Dexter, who is also Commissioner of the British Pavilion and Chair of the British Pavilion Curator Selection Panel, said:

“Cathy Wilkes’s distinctive and highly personal sculptural installations, evoking the rituals of daily life while alluding to existential questions at the core of human existence, will trigger complex new meanings and atmospherics within the grand domestic architecture of the British Pavilion. I am in no doubt that her exhibition will be a unique and powerful contribution to the Venice Biennale 2019.

“We are also really excited that Dr Zoe Whitley will be working alongside both the British Council and the artist to help bring this fascinating artist’s work to the global audience for La Biennale di Venezia.”

Whitley’s selection as curator is a result of British Council’s project to widen access to international working for UK visual arts professionals. The appointment was made following an open call for a UK-based mid-career curator to curate the Pavilion.

Speaking about her role and the opportunity to work with Wilkes, Whitley said: “It’s a privilege and the most wonderful responsibility to be entrusted with curating the British Pavilion. I’m thrilled to collaborate with Cathy Wilkes and the British Council in such a unique capacity; to consider, to learn from and to convey the work of such a significant artist is an exciting challenge.”