This year the murmur of a universal phrase, ‘Fare Mondi’, can be heard along the banks of the Venetian Canals, as well as in the many pavilions of the 53rd International Art Exhibition. The term has been translated into all the languages of the world, including that of a Central African State, which makes its debut in the contemporary art scene of the Venice Biennale this year: The Republic of Gabon.

‘Fare Mondi’ has quickly become a sort of mantra, that changes definition in each language it adopts. When questioned about its meaning, Daniel Birnbaum, Creative Director of the Venetian exhibition replied, “It means to stage the creative process and not the finished products of the gallery and the museum. The Biennale is experimentation and transgression. The artist creates worlds, not objects.”

This project seems to have been made to measure for the artist who has been chosen to represent the Republic of Gabon in this archipelago of modern art. Yvette Berger, painter and sculptor in origin, known in the artistic world as Owanto (which means ‘Woman’ in Omyènè, one of Gabon’s 42 languages), brings her works and philosophy to Venice. Owanto’s artistic language raises questions regarding creation, the role of women as the centre of nature and time, the strength of family bonds, the concept of unity, and the idea of an identity without borders. She belongs to a new generation of artists whose goal is to lead a change in the rules that govern the world. By drawing inspiration from the forces of nature in her motherland, Owanto expresses her desire to create a more committed world. You might call it animism or the ability to take hold of the magic of life.

It is a tremendous honour to have been selected to collaborate with the Republic of Gabon in their debut at the 53rd edition of the Venice Biennale. We would also like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the Gabonese Embassy in Italy for its contribution to the realisation of this project.

Désirée Maretti

Commissioner of the Pavilion of The Republic of Gabon