Various - Sheffield Pavillion 2007 (2007)

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The Sheffield Pavilion is a project designed to take advantage of the harmonic convergence of super exhibitions which occurs when The Venice Biennale, Documenta XII, Skulptur Projekte Münster 07, and Art Basel coincide in June 2007. This nexus of projects falling together (an event which only occurs once every 10 years) offers a unique opportunity to symbiotically present the work of Sheffield-based artists and promote the contemporary art activity taking place in Sheffield in an international context.

The idea of a Sheffield Pavilion was inspired by the traditional format of the Venice Biennale, where different countries are represented by pavilions. The Sheffield Pavillon is a new variation on a small series of city or location-specific interpretations of the national pavilion construct; from the Manchester Pavilion’s art-free bar to the New Forest Pavilion’s more formal exhibition venue. These city/region specific pavilions perhaps aim to challenge the notion that art practice in non-metropolitan areas operates on a provincial or parochial level or conversely suggest that the international art world is simply another such parish.

However the Sheffield Pavilion is a new format for a city’s involvement in events such as the The Venice Biennale. A pavilion in book form is a structure curiously attentive to the roots of the word, in the Latin for butterfly, and in its subsequent usage to signify a tent or temporary structure used for leisure, entertainment or exhibition. The Sheffield pavilion is similarly airborne, nomadic, a moveable feast, an exhibition in book form or a paper based architecture for art.

The book will be launched at Venice at Bar Margaret Duchamp, Campo Santa Margherita, Dorsoduro, Venice, Italy from 8pm Friday 8th June (and will be available from the bar from 7-10 June) and will be distributed the following week in Kassel, concurrent with the Documenta XII festival.

The Sheffield pavilion is designed by the city’s renowned The Designer' Republic and the artists’ broader practice is represented on a DVD presented alongside it. The publication provides a curatorial resource but also exists as a work in itself. The book is not intended as an audit of artistic practice in Sheffield, but the first of (hopefully) many different ways of presenting aspects of the Sheffield art scene to a wider audience. The hope is that the project will act as a portal to contemporary art in Sheffield, representing artists’ work, practice and methodology as a vital and vibrant part of the city and making Sheffield–based artists more visible to an international network. The Sheffield Pavilion will continue the city’s international visibility after Echo/City – an exhibition of works about Sheffield - was selected to represent Britain in last year’s Venice Architecture Biennale.

The selected artists have presented new projects designed specifically for the book form. Tim Etchells has undertaken a creative exploration of the ‘track changes’ function in Microsoft Word, Penny McCarthy’s drawings include a facsimile of a letter from the NASA archive drafted should the crew of the first moon landing be lost in space, Matthew Harrison documents the production and progress of an unsolicited desk nameplate for Professor Colin Pillinger of the ill-fated UK Beagle 3 Mars probe, Farhad Ahrarnia presents a collage of extracts of articles and drawings by writer/journalist Maggie Lett for Tehran Journal in 1969, Neil Webb has produced a spectrographic and sound mapping of a microcosmic selection of Sheffield urban terrain, Maud Haya Baviera collects a series of illustrated short stories about a protagonist called Liberty, Katy Woods displaces and re-presents an intriguing collection of found images and text, Sarah Staton offers a photograph of a building in Sheffield whose collision of styles, age and function in one structure reflects the city as a whole, Meriel Herbert’s photographic images of bodily gestures respond to the physicality of the book and the intimate relationship between viewer/reader and writer/artist, and Host Artists Group presents a curated exploration of multiple artists’ responses to the notion of beauty.

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