‘Absolutely Vile’ or ‘Powerful’? Christoph Buchel’s Migrant Boat Is the Most Divisive Work at the Venice Biennale

Javier Pes and Naomi Rea, Artnet News, May 16, 2019

[...} At the Venice Biennale last week, artist Christoph Büchel unveiled his most provocative work thus far: Barca Nostra (Our Boat), the rusting hulk of a barge that sank in the Mediterranean in 2015 and took with it up to 1,100 migrants fleeing north Africa, whose bodies were later recovered from the seabed along with the ship.


The artist Tsedaye Makonnen was moved to stage an impromptu performance in response to the work during the Biennale's opening week. In a work called When Drowning is the Best Option, Makonnen scattered white rose petals around the installation before lying down on the ground, clutching a skull in front of the controversial work.


According to Makonnen's Instagram, she was hassled by Biennale representatives and the Italian police, who formed a blockade around the installation. "How ironic that the Biennale created a border around the boat (which they were specifically instructed by the artist #christophebuchel, who installed the boat, not to do), sounds a lot like the present reality," Makonnen wrote. [...]

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