The artist Sarkis made an installation called ‘Respiro’ for the Turkish pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In various places around the world, satellite programmes were running in parallel with this presentation—one of them in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (gallery 49). By not confining his installation to Venice, Sarkis was seeking dialogue with a wider public. Seven works of art from the museum’s own collection and from the Centraal Museum Utrecht were on display.
Sarkis makes installations consisting of a number of objects or artworks. He seeks connections between such concepts as form and sound, present and past, object and idea, religion and freedom. The stress field between these concepts is key to ‘Respiro’, which means breath. Among the elements of the satellite installation in Rotterdam are the feathered bicycle used by visitors to cycle around the 2012 exhibition ‘Ballads’ and the round table where visitors are asked to leave something personal. Part of the ‘Respiro’ installation could also be seen in Angers, Chaumont-sur-Loire, Montbéliard, Geneva and Istanbul.
The curator of the Turkish pavilion is Defne Ayas, director of the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam. She selected Sarkis, a Turkish artist with Armenian forebears, to represent Turkey at this year’s Venice Biennale. In 2012 Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen invited Sarkis to work in the Submarine Wharf. He presented ‘Ballads’ in this 5,000-square-metre space in the Port of Rotterdam.