Catalonia arrives at Venice Biennale with audiovisual exhibition on 11 natural parks

'Bestiari' by Carlos Casas features immersive works presenting a hypnotic landscapes of flora and fauna

An image from the 'Bestiari' immersive art experience at the Catalan pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale 2024
An image from the 'Bestiari' immersive art experience at the Catalan pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale 2024 / Guillem Roset

ACN | @agenciaacn | Venice

April 18, 2024 08:32 PM

April 18, 2024 08:33 PM

The sights and sounds of eleven natural parks in Catalonia arrived this Thursday at the 60th Venice Biennale of Art.

The audiovisual and immersive work 'Bestiari' by artist Carlos Casas, curated by Filipa Ramos and produced by the Ramon Llull Institute, leads Catalonia's pavilion as part of the Eventi Collaterali section of the art show.

Casas' project involves visitors immersong themselves in a hypnotic environment of sounds and images emitted by animals and creatures from the natural and imaginary Catalan landscape.

Una imatge de l'experiència 'Bestiari' al pavelló català de la Biennal d'Art de Venècia

The work, which can be seen in Venice until November 24, uses as its starting point the medieval text 'Disputa de l'ase', written in 1471 by Anselm Turmeda.

The text, made by one of the historic founders of Catalan literature, tells the story of a man who finds himself subjected to a trial by an assembly of animals who question his human superiority over other beings.

'Bestiari' pays homage to the talking animals of Turmeda's text with a reproduction of the sounds and images of bats, bees, dolphins, donkeys, elephants, and other beasts.

The proposal for the Catalan pavilion ties in with the theme of the Biennale, which this year revolves around 'Foreigners Everywhere'.

Curator Filipa Ramos explained to ACN that Casas' proposal is in dialogue with the 2024 Art Biennale because it points out that nature is also "marginalized" and can feel "foreign in its home" if it has no place to exist or is being "threatened" by human action.

Una imatge de l'experiència 'Bestiari' al pavelló català de la Biennal d'Art de Venècia

Large format projections with Ambisonics sound spatialization

The artistic project is created from large-format projection created from the point of view of each different species included in the story. The work promises to create hypnagogic connections and place the visitor halfway between reality and the world of dreams.

With Ambisonics 3D sound spatialization and infrasonic recordings, frequencies are produced that reach beyond the human sensory realm.

For the aural element of the art installation, Casas was accompanied by musician and sound recording expert Chris Watson. Most of the sounds and images of 'Bestiari' have been recorded in 11 parks or protected natural spaces in the Catalan territory.

Speaking to the Catalan News Agency (ACN), Casas said that he aims to ensure that future generations have a document on the state of Catalan natural parks in 2023-2024.

After years of research into how sound can establish new connections with the viewer, Casas invites audience members to enter a total immersion in the Catalan natural parks in a space with state-of-the-art sound technology.

Una imatge de l'experiència 'Bestiari' al pavelló català de la Biennal d'Art de Venècia

From the Ebre Delta to Cap de Creus

'Bestiari' features sounds and images recorded throughout the four seasons of the year and at different times of the day. 

It is also formed of recordings made in a wide variety of locations across the Catalan territory.

All in all, recordings come from the Ebre Delta Natural Park, the Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park, the Montgrí Natural Park, the Medes and Baix Ter Islands, the Montseny Natural Park and Biosphere Reserve, the Natural Park of Sant Llorenç del Munt i l'Obac, the Natural Reserve of Mas de Melons i Secans de Lleida, the Protected Natural Area of the Serra del Montsec, the Protected Natural Area of the Serra de Boumort, the National Hunting Reserve of Boumort, the High Pyrenees Natural Park, and Cap de Creus Natural Park. 

Opening with Marina Herlop and Manifesta 15

The exhibition will be open to the public from this Saturday, April 20, until November 24 at the Catalonia in Venice pavilion at the Docks Cantieri Cucchini in Venice.

Speaking to ACN, Catalonia's culture minister Natalia Garriga applauded the fact that Catalonia has a pavilion at the Biennale because this "positions it in the world" and noted that Casas' piece makes us "consider if we are listening enough" in a world with "a lot of noise." 

The opening event will feature a performance by Catalan avant-garde musician Marina Herlop, as well as the presentation of Manifesta 15 Barcelona and a performance with Jokko Collective.

Organizers anticipate an attendance of around 500 people at the opening of 'Bestiari'.