We have selected 5, from Japan, UK, Nigeria, South Korea and the United States: and here we explain why they are the ones to watch

Slowly, the pavilions that will take part in the Venice Art Biennale 2024.

Each national participation carries forward its own idea of the world. So from next April 20 the Lagoon will be invaded by feminist andenvironmentalist visions, decolonial and sensorial, political and intimist, cheeky and satirical.

On stage there will be the best (or at least this is the desire of the curator Adriano Pedrosa) contemporary artists on the planet. We choose the five not to be missed for anything in the world. Partly for their way of describing themselves and the time in which we live and partly for their extraordinary ability to reinterpret it in their image and likeness.

Read also: Adriano Pedrosa is the curator of the Biennale Arte 2024

1. Yuko Mohri, Japanese pavilion, Biennale Arte 2024

One of the artists who is most intriguing is, for example, Yuko Mohri who will represent Japan. The 43-year-old artist, originally from Kanagawa prefecture, has been studying the beneficial effects of crises for years.

What does this mean exactly? She explains it herself: “What interests me is how a crisis can ignite the highest levels of creativity in people”.

To give shape to his Mohri exhibition - which in 2025 will be the protagonist of a solo exhibition at the Hangar Bicocca in Milan where physical phenomena such as gravity and magnetism will be explored - he inspired by the tales of Tokyo metro workers who ingeniously use everyday objects to block water leaks that occur in the various stations.

Inside the Japanese pavilion there will be echoes of the pandemic, but also references to the violent floods that hit Venice in 2019 and the protests of young activists in the name of ecology and environmental sustainability.

Yuko, who employs sound and movement to create site-specific kinetic installations by combining ready-made objects and electrical circuits, will create a work in the shape of rotting fruit attached to electrodes that generate light and notes .

The curator of the ambitious project is Sook-Kyung Lee, former director of the 14th Gwangju Biennial, current Senior Curator at the Tate Modern in London and a point of reference for art criticism in Asia.

2. John Akomfrah, British pavilion, Biennale Arte 2024

Another artist capable of catalyzing the attention of critics, colleagues, collectors and art advisors will undoubtedly be John Akomfrah who will represent Great Britain.

British writer, director, but also screenwriter and curator of Ghanaian origins, he is known for video installations and films dedicated to themes such as social injustice, racism, the environmental crisis and postcolonial legacy.

At the Giardini it will focus everything on 'absences', that is, on those historical voids still present today in the "official" narratives elaborated by traditional cultural institutions.

“I consider this invitation to participate in the Biennial - says Akomfrah, who in 2022 won the Golden Lion for the best national participation - a sort of recognition towards all those with whom I have collaborated during the decades and which continue to make my work possible. This is one of the most exciting opportunities that can be presented to an artist."

3. Toyin Ojih Odutola, Nigerian pavilion, Biennale Arte 2024

Toyin Ojih Odutola, protagonist together with seven other colleagues of the Nigerian Pavilion, also focuses attention on hot topics linked to his own personal experience: from colonialism to migration, from gender issues to social injustices.

Considered one of the most rising figurative painters on the world scene, he has long dedicated himself to the representation of the human figure.

The collective project presented in Venice, conceived by Aindrea Emelife, former curator of modern and contemporary art at the Museum of West African Art in Benin City, is entitledNigeria Imaginary , and reveals perspectives, ideas, memories dedicated to one's country while maintaining "an intergenerational and intergeographic scope".

The poetics of Ojih Odutola (protagonist of the collective exhibition The Struggle of Memory at the Palais Popolare in Berlin until March 11) fits into this framework, aiming on the one hand to contest the often trivializing approach of African cultural history and on the other hand clearly states how the remote non-Western past can never be a simple empty space.

4. Koo Jeong-a, South Korean pavilion, Biennale Arte 2024

The work of the Korean Koo Jeong-a, protagonist of the South Korean Pavilion, has a completely different theme.

Born in 1967 in Seoul, she has been working on the revisitation of spaces thanks to immersive installations for thirty years. For her creativity is an act of irreverence that leads to surprise.

Since the 1990s, in fact, her very delicate works have loved to surprise the public and question the boundaries between reality and fiction, between reality and the imaginary. In Venice Koo will present Odorama City (the name itself says it all), a multisensory work that will evoke "national memories" through smells, notes and even temperatures.

The project is curated by Seolhui Lee, of the Kunsthal Aarhus in Denmark, and by Jacob Fabricius, director of the Art Hub Copenhagen and former director at the Busan Biennial.

5. Jeffrey Gibson, United States pavilion, Biennale Arte 2024

Last buy not least, Jeffrey Gibson who will represent the United States at the 2024 Art Biennale in Venice and will go down in history as the first indigenous artist to represent them in the almost 130-year history of the International Art Exhibition.

Sculptor and painter, he was born in Colorado in 1972 but has lived and worked in Brooklyn for some time. Of Cherokee descent, he mixes different techniques and traditions, workingthe fabric like metal.

The final effect of his poetics are sculptures, paintings, installations and performances, both abstract and pop.

Also at the Biennial, thanks to the curatorship of Louis Grachos, executive director of Site Santa Fe, of Abigail Winograd and by Kathleen Ash-Milby, curator of the Portland Art Museum of Navajo origin, Jeffrey will stage performances, multimedia and static works.

They all have a single objective: "I want to change the way people think about indigenousness - said Gibson - Venice is the best opportunity to achieve this goal".

Cover photo: Jeffrey Gibson