Venice Report: Love Me Love Me Not

The title of the exhibition Love Me Love Me Not instantly calls to mind the childhood game of the same name and, much like the stripping of the flower’s petals offers a glimpse at the structure underneath the works offer an insight into the rich and varied cultures of the countries represented. Running at the Venice Biennale until November, the showcase collates the work of 17 artists.

The theme of childhood is reiterated as soon as audiences approach the exhibition, with Slavs & Tatars installation piece Molla Nasreddin the antimodernist placed outside like a colourful playground ride inviting us into the space inside. The warehouse is filled, but not cluttered, with works from Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey and Georgia. The works include a mixture of media and approaches and whilst some are fairly conservative in their outlook many of the works approach their subject in a playful manner.

Orkhan Huseynov has recreated a typical 1960s sitting room for Life of Bruce Lye, 2008, in which the viewer is invited to accommodate themselves in one of the two armchairs. The film installation discusses the binary of authentic and counterfeit, through interviews with Azerbaijani artists who throughout their childhood had watched Bruce Lee imitator Bruce Li films believing they were watching authentic Lee films.

A recurring theme is the juxtaposition of cultural heritage with modernity. One particularly successful example of this is Fahrid Moshiri’s Kiosk de Curiosité, in which the artist has taken two concepts deep-rooted within Iranian culture, that of the ubiquitous corner-shop and the traditional Persian rug, and combined them to successfully reflect the combination of new and old in modern day Iran. This exhibition is a lively and absorbing collection of works from artists that offer an insight into the cultural heritage of a group of countries that have always been closely connected culturally and geographically.

Love Me Love Me Not, Venice Biennale, until 24 November.

Rhiannon McGregor

1. Kutlug Ataman, Column, Lentos Museum.