Portugal and Cyprus Pavilions

In a warehouse on the Grand Canal, beams of light shine through rafters, across each other and onto screens and tree branches. Francisco Tropa has created a laboratory of magic lanterns, a room of curiosities. Light shines through a bluebottle and magnifies it as large as a peacock. At another table, water from a pipette drips through the light beam, moving in curves on the wall opposite. Across the room an hourglass sifts minutes before its lantern, emptying load after shadowy load. Here in Portugal’s pavilion is an enquiry into scale, distances of space and time travelled, and a particular stillness that bounces, dances.

Francisco Tropa for Portugal

Francisco Tropa for Portugal

Cyprus’ pavilion is precise, framed, and lit like a theatre. On one hand, the presentation is pleasing, but on the other, frustrating. Elizabeth Hoak-Doering’s writing machines made from engines, furniture and graphite sticks make intriguingly organic marks, while casting angular shadows, but the upstairs space of Palazzo Malipiero is too low and narrow, and thus deprives them of much impact. Some marks evoke splinter-like lines on a map, and in so doing, complement Marianna Christofides’ maps, which are laser-engraved onto thick paper and placed onto tabletop light-boxes. Whether these maps are real or fictional is unclear, as is their purpose – they might be industrial, defensive, or utopian town planning. Certainly a twentieth century era of exploration, cartography and control is conjured, and continues in Christofides’ meticulously framed found photographs of railway systems and colonial territories. But as with the exhibition as a whole, these images are too easy to skim past because their neatness is a barrier between the content and our reception. 

Elizabeth Hoak-Doering for Cyprus

Marianna Christofides for Cyprus