Welcome to the first VR Pavilion of the Venice Biennial for Contemporary Art with Venetian Artist Sara Tirelli. Staged at the Communist party centre and on a small boat departing every 30 minutes, the VR pavilion takes a critical and site-specific approach to virtual reality technology. Beyond being dedicated to Virtual Reality this pavilion is also itself an immersive environment, and as such, a Venetian Reality that calls into question obsolete notions of national representation.

Medusa is a 360-degree video work experienced through Virtual Reality glasses. The work describes a Europe in crisis and the events that take place in the film consist of a mixture of facts and fiction. Sara Tirelli has used news, social media, EU documents and interviews to portray the EU's identity as well as the prevailing situation for people on the run. The title of the work refers to the Greek myth of being petrified when looking into the eyes of gorgon Medusa. It can also be associated with Theodoré Gericault's art-historical work Medusas Raft (1818-1819). In the painting, shipwreck survivors reveal how people suffer from the poor decisions made by those in power. Medusa's Raft can also be linked to today's images of refugees who risk their lives on their way to Europe, while the inhabitants of Europe witness the events in front of a screen. There is a clear lineage between the painting and contemporary media's images of the refugee situation.

Large portions of Medusa were recorded at Borås Art Museum in Sweden, with a total of 63 actors involved. Among other things, Sara Tirelli worked with Agape, a voluntary organization for unaccompanied children and young people.

The work was produced with support from Borås Art Museum, Iaspis, Västra Götaland Region, Culture in the West and Lindholmen Science Park.


Sara Tirelli is a filmmaker and artist. She received her MFA in Visual Arts at Faculty of Human Science at University of Bologna, Department of Art, Music and Performing Art in 2003 and in the same year she obtained her Filmmaker Diploma at Scuola Civica di Cinema e Nuovi Media, Politecnico di Milano. She began her career as videomaker for New Media Art in the Netherlands, V2_Institute Rotterdam and in Germany, Transmediale Berlin, before settling in Venice where she was selected as artist in residence at Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa in 2010. Her videos and artworks have been featured in several exhibitions and festivals including Q16.Quadriennale d'Arte of Rome, Gothenburg Film Festival, DeutscheBank Kunsthalle, Museo Novecento Florence, 12th International Architecture Biennale of Venice, Rotterdam Film Festival. Her artistic research explore the processes of visual perception and the links between technology, culture and media.
I am an artist and filmmaker whose work lays along the border between Art and Cinema. I'm interested in the cinematic experience understood as perceptual and cognitive process and in how the collective imagery and technology shape and redefine the concept of 'Reality'. My art practice approach technology not only as a means of representation, but as the object of investigation. My work is often a critical reflection on media's power to influence the forms of thought and it is moved by the will to search for historical and political reasons that are hidden behind certain narrative and aesthetic choices. I'm interested in the archeology of the media and the phenomenology of vision to research the processes that define 'the act of looking' and the links between 'what is perceived' and 'what is real '. As filmmaker I explore unconventional modes of representation and storytelling work with tecnhologies of vision. both as means of exploration, both as means of interpretation and artistic representation. I'm lately approaching immersive fillmmaking with the freedom to experiment in order to speculate on new cinematic format. I see in VR an artistic tool that speaks the same language of our conscious, thus opening uncontaminated scenario in terms of representation and communication.

Jonatan Habib Engqvist is a curator and writer with a background in Philosophy and Aesthetic theory based in Stockholm. Currently artistic director of New Småland on commission by 4 regional art museums and a university together with Mike Bode (2016-2020), curator of Sara Tirelli´s solo exhibition at Borås Artmuseum, Sweden and co-curator with Basak Senova and Branko Francechi of The 5th Project Biennial of Contemporary Art D-0 ARK Underground, Do secret services dream of a museum? in Tito's Bunker - ARC D-0, Konjic, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Engqvist also manages CRIS (Curatorial Residency In Stockholm) and is editor in mischief of the online journal tsnoK.se. He has curated a number of international biennales and festivals including Cycle Music and Art Festival Berlin/Reykjavík/Koparvogur (2018), Survival Kit 9 in Riga, Latvia, Sinopale 6, Sinop, Turkey (2017), Tunnel Vision, the 8th Momentum biennale in Moss, Norway 2015 and (I)ndependent People, the visual art focus of Reykjavík Arts Festival 2012. Previously project manager for visual art at Iaspis (2009-2014), curator at Moderna Museet (2008-09) and The Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm (2005-07). Engqvist has written in numerous books and catalogues. These include: Big Dig ¬– Om passivitet och samtidskonst, CLP Works (2018), Studio Talks: Thinking Through Painting, Arvinius+Orfeus Publishing (2014), In Dependence – Collaboration and Artists´ initiatives, Torpedo Press (2013), Work, Work, Work – A Reader on Art and Labour, Steinberg Press (2012), Dharavi: Documenting Informalities, KKH (2008), Academic Foundation New Delhi (2009).

The Nordic Art Association is a visual art organisation in the Nordic countries aimed at creating networks. It was founded in 1945 and consists of 9 sections. The board of the Swedish section consists of representatives of a number of national partners, such as artist organisations and national institutions for contemporary art. NKF will celebrate it´s 75-year jubilee in 2020.