Edith Karlson (1983) is a sculptor, and the main protagonists in her work are people and animals. Dogs, bears, lions, birds and other animals appear allegorically or symbolically. The figures refer to fears, which arise from working as an artist, but also from functioning in the society. Generally, she presents her work as an installation, involving the whole exhibition space.
The open call received applications by 16 artists. Edith Karlson was chosen by the international jury who gathered in November in Tallinn to discuss the submitted proposals and meet the participating artists at studio visits. Members of the jury for the Estonian pavilion of the 60th Venice Biennale were the director of Spore Initiative in Berlin Antonia Alampi, the director of the Estonian Center for Contemporary Art and the commissioner of the Estonian Pavilion Maria Arusoo, the director of IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) Annie Fletcher, the curator of contemporary art at the National Museum in Norway Geir Haraldseth, artist and member of the CCA board Jaanus Samma and advisor on visual art at the Estonian Ministry of Culture Maria-Kristiina Soomre.
“Karlson’s work has developed tremendously over the years,” says Geir Haraldseth, “The evocative installations take the audience on an epic journey, through history, moods and myths. Karlson’s belief in the power of art, and in particular sculpture, to affect us all, is sorely needed today.” Antonia Alampi adds: “Her works have the capacity to leave you in total wonder.” “We are looking forward to seeing her develop what will undoubtedly be an ambitious and riveting display for Venice in 2024,” says Annie Fletcher.
The idea for the pavilion derives from her last solo exhibition “Return to Innocence” (at EKKM, Tallinn, 2021, curated by Eero Epner). Similarly, she plans to transform the pavilion into an immersive environment where the space and the objects are inseparable, creating a particular atmosphere, which is there for the viewer to participate in, to sense, to feel. “I would like not to build up a gallery space with contemporary art objects,” says the artist, “The world is a fuckup and we, humans, did it. There is no escaping from that situation. No illusions, only dramas. Nothing will ever change, and it’s both tragic and comic, serious and laughable, terrifying as hell and amusing as a circus.”
I think my job as an artist is to create spaces where the viewer’s fantasies are evoked because the most powerful dramas are in our heads.
Edith Karlson has studied installation and sculpture at the Estonian Academy of Arts (BA, 2006; MA, 2008). She has been awarded EAA Young Artist’s Prize (2006) and Köler Prize People’s Choice Award (2015). Edith Karlson is among the recipients of the national artists’ salary between 2018-2020 and 2022-2024. She was awarded Estonian Cultural Endowment’s main award (2020). You can read more about her works from the Estonian Artists Database here.
Participating since 1997, this will be the fourteenth time Estonia will be exhibiting at the International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. The Estonian Centre for Contemporary Art is the official representative of the Estonian exposition and it is financed by the Estonian Ministry of Culture.