Curated by João Mourão and Luís Silva, the work dialogues with The Milk of Dreams by Leonora Carrington, theme proposed by Biennale Arte 2022 curator Cecilia Alemani, focusing on “the representation of bodies and their metamorphoses, the relationship between individuals and technologies, and the connection between bodies and the Earth”.
Through a new film, poetry and an immersive exhibition design, Vampires in Space takes the form of a narrative installation that transforms the second floor of Palazzo Franchetti into an unexpected spaceship, within which the wistful existence, dramas and routines of its five passengers unfold during a centuries-long trip to a faraway planet. Designed with the support of Diogo Passarinho Studio, the installation contrasts the Gothic Venetian style of the palazzo with a speculative sensibility, typical of Neves Marques’ practice, known for spanning art and cinema, critical writing, fiction and poetry.
Vampires in Space is the first explicitly queer project presented in the history of the Pavilion of Portugal at the Internanional Art Exhibitions of La Biennale di Venezia, where trans- and non-binary representation matters gain unprecedented visibility.
By presenting this project, Portugal places itself at the forefront of discussions on key issues of our times, in which identity processes, ecology, transhumanism and biopolitics are interdependent and complementary themes for thinking and acting in the present and, above all, in the future. The work resorts to the figure and expectations of what we consider a “vampire” to be in order to address questions of gender identity, non-nuclear families, queer reproduction, and also the role of intimacy and mental health today. The vampire’s imagined longevity, reinforced here by a physical distance from planet Earth and the notion of humanity, allows for a retrospective exercise in what would be called a “science autofiction” anchored in Neves Marques’ own trans non-binary experience, as well as a political review of an extensive history of control over the bodies and desire.
If vampires have always reflected period debates on gender, from the Victorian era to feminist liberation and the AIDS crisis, how do they answer today to advances in biotechnology or the emancipation of queer lives and ecologies? As is characteristic of the artist’s work, Vampires in Space is built on a balance between forthright sociopolitical critique, an uncommon narrational enterprise and the creative and emotional place of personal exposure, invoking a space of intellectual and poetic freedom for art.
After all, in space it’s always night and, in their immortality, vampires are the perfect beings to deal with the incommensurability of spatial distances.
At once funny and tragic, kind and empowering, Vampires in Space presents a closed cycle between memories of past – and perhaps future – lives, and the melancholic reality of a trip to a distant territory. The project includes a public program curated by Filipa Ramos – a discursive platform to mediate and discuss the themes explored in Vampires in Space through a series of films, music, performances and talks. In an effort to make further accessible and decentralize the visual arts, this program spans various areas of Portugal thanks to the support of institutional partnerships: the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Modern Art Center (Lisbon), Arquipélago – Contemporary Arts Center (São Miguel, Azores), José de Guimarães International Arts Center (Guimarães) and Batalha Film Center (Porto). The project’s publication, conceived as a locus for a theoretical narrative as well as critical production of knowledge, is editorially coordinated by Renata Catambas, designed by Remco van Bladel Studio, and will be edited and distributed by Sternberg Press.
Once Biennale Arte 2022 comes to a close, Vampires in Space will be presented at the newly renovated Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Modern Art Center in Lisbon, and the itinerancy continues with presentations at Haus der Kunst in Munich and at the Pivô, contemporary art center in São Paulo. Pedro Neves Marques most recently premiered Becoming Male in the Middle Ages (2022) at the Tiger Short Competition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, for which they have been awarded with the prestigious Ammodo Tiger Short Award and are nominated by IFFR Pro to the short film category of the European Film Awards. Just previously, they won the Special Prize of the Pinchuk Future Generation Art Prize 2021, and, thus, will participate in the Future Generation Art Prize 2021 @ Venice group exhibition, organized by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation at Scuola Grande della Misericordia. The Official Portuguese Representation at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2022 is commissioned by the Directorate-General for the Arts. EDP Foundation is the Official Portuguese Representation’s main sponsor. Additional support is generously provided by Fundação Carmona e Costa, Fundação PLMJ and Fundación Botín.
The 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2022 is open to the public from April 23 to November 27 2022.