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The Asia presence here is manifold and fascinating. Less grounded in algebra is Macao’s sassy and irreverent contribution close to the entrance to the Arsenale. Ung Vai Meng and Chan Hin Io of the YiiMa group appropriate the tondo form of Raphael’s Madonnas. In place of the Virgin Mary, the artists themselves enact angelic poses in the swirling midst of Macanese, Chinese and Venetian artefacts. The good-natured combination of fantasy, religious devotion and cross-cultural brotherhood forces a wry chuckle from even the most jaded visitor.

Just around the corner is Mongolia’s contribution, “A Journey Through Vulnerability”, by artist Munkhtsetseg Jalkhaajav (Mugi). Situated in a darkened room, the soft sculpture titled Keeper of Protector Bird (2017) is simply constructed and deeply moving. A human figure strapped to an image of nightmares: a kind of alliance, a burden, voluntary yet inevitable. It deals not so much with loss but with its tragic aftermath and the long shadows cast by trauma.


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