Project Description

“THE PAST WAS ERASED, THE ERASURE WAS FORGOTTEN, THE LIE BECAME TRUTH. ”

NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR, GEORGE ORWELL

As an artist, I wanted to ensure that I could tell a story — not necessarily the official history, but a personal narrative rooted in deeply held convictions. In a landscape where falsehoods become entrenched in history, I aimed to offer an alternative perspective on the early 2020s, during which empires shamelessly portrayed themselves as virtuous. Throughout history, no empire has been wholly benevolent, and historical narratives have always been entangled with the propaganda of the victor. War manifests as a social collapse from which certain groups — such as oligarchs worldwide — stand to gain, while all others endure the repercussions of their own or their neighbors’ misguided convictions that any war can have a winner.

Lanfranco Aceti, as an artist and curator, has taken on the Russian Pavilion at the LX Venice Biennale. Titled Foreigners Everywhere, the curatorial statement by Adriano Pedrosa for the 2024 Venice Biennale seems to advocate for the inclusion of marginalized voices. However, upon closer examination, the statement itself reveals complexities and challenges in defining ‘insider’ and ‘outsider.’ The delineation of who belongs within the empire’s borders — boundaries that are meticulously surveyed and fiercely guarded — serves as a representation of both inclusion and exclusion. Through his new works of art, which traverse art and architecture, painting and sculpture, installation and photography, Aceti transforms the Russian Pavilion into a cohesive work of art and a singular performative experience. By blending digital art, sculpture, painting, and installation, the artist presents a vision that provocatively interrogates deeply ingrained notions such as censorship, propaganda, imperialism, post-democracy, and autocracy. A land ruled by conflicting empires. These themes converge and collide in a portrayal of an outsider, where everyone, including the artist and curator himself, becomes a foreigner in their own land.

For Aceti, the hypocrisies and double standards of the West erode basic democratic values and impose and defend corporate propaganda and social media censorship to uphold an expansionist agenda of world dominance. They clash against the unwillingness of the East to bow down, with its plain-for-all-to-see state-sponsored propaganda and ideological values of truth. The Russian Pavilion, titled by the artist Holier than Thou, serves as a container that will unveil, throughout the duration of the LX Venice Biennale, a series of works of art reflecting the artist’s contemplation on the notion of empire and its forms of censorship, canceling, and erasures of people’s lives, for which politicians, oligarchs, bureaucrats, managers, and social media avengers will never pay a price.

The facade of the Russian Pavilion by Aceti is titled Oilier than Thou. Aceti has transformed the facade from an architectural element of a container into an artwork. Each of the facades of the pavilion is an artwork in its own right and is to be experienced as such. “I wanted to convey a feeling of dread but also the hypocrisy of the declarations of politicians at times of war. The self-righteousness spun through the propaganda machine is unbearable and intolerable to any free-thinking person. This is compounded by an increased environment of intolerance of free speech and political opinions, in which one is either aligned or an enemy. This phenomenon of democratic freedoms’ erosion is particularly visible in the West, where social media have been used to generate a sleepwalking society.”

Image Captions:

Image 1: Lanfranco Aceti, Sooooo Very Righteous, 2024. Gif from light installation on the facade of the Russian Pavilion.

Image 2: Lanfranco Aceti, Oilier than Thou, 2024. Gold plated and printed aluminum with neon lights. Frontal facade of the Russian Pavilion.

Image 3: Lanfranco Aceti, Blink, 2024. Print on fine art paper.

Image 4: Lanfranco Aceti, Blink, Blink, 2024. Print on fine art paper.

Image 5: Lanfranco Aceti, Blink, Blink, Blink, 2024. Print on fine art paper.

Image 6: Lanfranco Aceti, At Face Value, 2024. Print on fine art paper.

Image 7: Lanfranco Aceti, Under the Rosy Veil, 2024. Print on fine art paper.

Image 8: Lanfranco Aceti, Under the Celestial Veil, 2024. Print on fine art paper.

Image 9: Lanfranco Aceti, Unveiled, 2024. Print on gold plated metal sheet.

Image 10: Lanfranco Aceti, Thoughts’ Map #rosy, 2024. Print on fine art paper.

Image 11: Lanfranco Aceti, Thoughts’ Map #celestial, 2024. Print on fine art paper.

Image 12: Lanfranco Aceti, Thoughts’ Map, 2024. Print on fine art paper.

Image 13: Lanfranco Aceti, Future Visions, 2024. Gold plated and printed aluminum. Lateral facade of the Russian Pavilion.

Image 14: Lanfranco Aceti, Future Visions, 2024. Gold plated and printed aluminum. Lateral facade of the Russian Pavilion.

Image 15: Lanfranco Aceti, Imperial Futures, 2024. Print on gold plated metal sheet.

Image 16: Lanfranco Aceti, Imperial Wisdom, 2024. Gold plated and printed aluminum. Entrance facade of the Russian Pavilion.

Image 17: Lanfranco Aceti, At the Gate of the Empire, 2024. Print on fine art paper.

Image 18: Lanfranco Aceti, At the Gate of the Empire, 2024. Print on fine art paper.

Image 19: Lanfranco Aceti, Things Left Unsaid, 2024. Print on glossy photographic paper.

Image 20: Lanfranco Aceti, It Is but Death Who Comes at Last, 2024. Print on acrylic.

Image 21: Lanfranco Aceti, Sitting Pretty, 2024. Print on acrylic.