Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl, using the structure of the Austrian pavilion, have developed a project that connects the practices of the two artists through a game of quotations, references and parallelisms. Invitation of the soft machine and her angry body parts (2022) is the construction of a scenography in which different languages converge in favor of a work that expands in every corner of the pavilion, leaving room for imagination and opening to the fantasies of the visitors, who are invented to enter and explore a contemporary surreal imagery.

The space of the pavilion is enriched by the cosmos of the two Austrian artists who translate a personal, theatrical and almost cinematographic dimension: sculptures of human surrogates, large piercings that pass through the walls, drops of plexiglass pee, a lunar landscape as wallpaper and a giant hand in velvet. Walking through the rooms of this exhibition you will encounter the sculptural works of Jakob Lena Knebel in which iconic pieces of design of the seventies become the basis for creating new female figures who are not afraid to leave the contemporary stereotypes but rather try to subvert them. In the same way, the canvases, the most elaborate corpus of Ashley Hans Scheirl’s intervention, show new queer experiments of the representation of woman’ body.  The sci-fi and pop architecture that surround the installation incorporates the different works and puts them in dialogue.

These, which seem to be the ingredients of a sci-fi film, are the elements that define both sculptural and architectural space of the pavilion. The main reference in the construction of this imaginary are certainly the seventies that the artists use as a reference point not only iconographic but above all as a starting point to allude to socio-political issues on identity and its constant transformation.

In this sense the title is emblematic: Invitation of the soft machine and her angry body parts talk about a body, that of the sculptures and paintings visible in the rooms, that of the visitors, who activate the space walking between the installations, a body that can no longer be contained in a gender, standard or specific classification. The work is at the same time also an invitation to shake the hierarchies not only of men but also of art and its genres. Proposing a hybridization of languages, Jakob Lena Knebl and Asjley Hans Scheirl create an identity in continuous construction, a living organism that manifests itself with different natures and that occupies space inviting the viewer to a journey inside an alternative imaginary with past, present and future symbologies. With this installation, the artists have transformed the Austrian pavilion into a real spaceship projected into a temporal dimension that has yet to be explored.


Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl
Invitation of the Soft Machine and her Angry Body Parts, 2022
Pavillion of Austria
59 International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, The Milk of Dreams
© Photo: Marco Cappelletti, courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia