By Jean Marie Carey

A site-specific installation combining high-definition video projections and the buildings, public areas, and lagoon environments of Venice opens today – 7 May 2017 – in advance of the Biennale di Venezia, which gets underway later this week. The work by British artist Shezad Dawood, titled Leviathan, also incorporates textile and sculptural works housed in the recently-renovated Palazzina Canonica, situated on the waterfront next to the Giardini della Biennale. Curated by Alfredo Cramerotti, Leviathan is presented by the Fondazione Querini Stampalia and developed in collaboration with the Istituto delle Scienze Marine and Venice’s Fortuny house of fabrics.

 Venice, struggling with encroaching waters and damage to its historic structures caused by air pollution, is unfortunately a perfect location for Leviathan, which both documents and imagines the effects of global warming. Dawood says:

This project was already under-way before climate discourse went from the mainstream to the marginal. But the key question then, as now, was how to make the science and the possible future awaiting us more accessible. I hope the collaborative enterprise that begins in Venice, informed by so many generously lending their time and expertise, goes some way towards doing that.

Following the launch this month, Leviathan will embark on a three-year international tour, culminating in a final presentation of all ten episodes in 2020. Leviathan will also be released as a series of short stories that will be published in serial form on the project website. The first episode is now available online at

Reference: Cleo Roberts. “Shezad Dawood: Kalimpong.” ArtAsiaPacific, April 2017, Issue 102, p.160.

Shezad Dawood, Leviathan Cycle (production stills), 2017. HD video. Courtesy of the artist and UBIK Productions.

Further Reading: Martinus antonius Maria Drenthen. Environmental Aesthetics: Crossing Divides and Breaking Ground. New York: Fordham University Press, 2014.

Robert Storr; Francesca Pietropaolo; Harriet Schoenholz Bee. Where Art Worlds Meet: Multiple Modernities and the Global Salon: la Biennale di Venezia International Symposium. Venice: Marsilio, 2007.

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