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Yoko Ono receives the Lifetime Achievement Golden Lion at Venice Biennale 2009


Yoko Ono was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale 2009

Yoko Ono receives the Golden Lion she was awarded for her career from Venice Mayor Massimo Cacciari during the inauguration ceremony of the 53rd Biennale International Art Exhibition in Venice, Italy, Saturday, June 6, 2009.

Yoko Ono receives the Golden Lion she was awarded for her career from Venice Mayor Massimo Cacciari during the inauguration ceremony of the 53rd Biennale International Art Exhibition in Venice, Italy, Saturday, June 6, 2009

Artist Yoko Ono poses with her Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 53rd Biennale Internazional Art Exhibition in Venice June 6, 2009.

Artist Yoko Ono gestures as she is congratulated by her fans after receiving a Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 53rd Biennale Internazional Art Exhibition in Venice June 6, 2009.

Yoko Ono reacts after receiving the Golden Lion award for her career during the inauguration ceremony of the 53rd Biennale International Art Exhibition in Venice, Italy, Saturday, June 6, 2009.

Artist Yoko Ono reacts prior to receiving a Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement, next to director of the 53rd Biennale Internazional Art Exhibition Daniel Birnbaum (L), in Venice June 6, 2009.

Yoko Ono with Daniel Birnbaum, director of the 53rd Venice Biennale Internazional Art Exhibition.

Yoko Ono leaves with Venice Biennale curator Daniel Birnbaum during the inauguration ceremony of the 53rd Biennale International Art Exhibition in Venice, Italy, Saturday, June 6, 2009.

AP

The 53rd Venice Biennale opened its doors to the public on Sunday, inviting art enthusiasts to view an extravagant collection of what organizers have billed as “a wide, multi-dimensional world of contemporary creations.”

The venerable international art exhibition got under way Saturday evening in the fabled northern Italian city with an awards ceremony which saw a German, Tobias Rehberger, a professor at Frankfurt’s Staedelschule, taking top honors for Best Artist.

Rehberger won the Golden Lion award for his work “What you love also makes you cry”.

The 43-year-old artist from Esslingen near Stuttgart designed the cafeteria in the central Biennale pavillion, which functions both as a restaruant and a multi-facetted artwork.

The USA pavillion won the Golden Lion for best national contribution with an installation by conceptual artist, Bruce Nauman, called “Topological Gardens”.

This year’s Silver Lion for the best young artist went to the 35-year-old video and animation artist, Nathalie Djurberg, of Sweden.

Career Golden Lions were bestowed on avantgarde pioneers Yoko Ono of Japan for her trailblazing performance art and on 78-year-old American, John Baldessari, as one of the most important contributors to contemporary concept and video art.

Praising the extraordinarily wide range of exhibits and installations, Daniel Birnbaum, the Swedish director of the Biennale, told press that “we now live in a totally multi-centric art world.”

“A work of art is more than an object, more than a commodity,” he said, “it represents a vision of the world, and if taken seriously, must be seen as a way of making a world.” Birnbaum has been Rector at the German Staedelschule in Frankfurt am Main since 2001.

The Biennale this year features 90 artists from 77 countries and runs through November 22.

Message from Yoko Ono:

Dear Friends,
When I heard that I was selected for the Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award of 2009,
I felt like i was in a fog, listening to a foghorn far away!
The fog slowly cleared.
The foghorn changed into the speech the director of the Biennale was giving on this occasion.
So what should I say…thank you?

John would have been so proud of me.
“I told you, didn’t I?” he would say.
I am glad, too.

I feel like I was suddenly given a huge birthday card.
I see myself struggling to hold it in my heart.
Thank you for being there for me all these years.
I am a lucky girl.
yoko

Yoko Ono
1 March 2009
NYC

Yoko Ono to receive Lifetime Achievement Golden Lion at Venice Biennale 2009

Golden Lion
As part of the 53rd International Venice Biennale 2009,
Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement will be awarded to Yoko Ono
and John Baldessari – two of the most important artists of our time.

As decided by the Board of the Venice Biennale, chaired by Paolo
Baratta, on the proposal of the Director, Daniel Birnbaum, the award
will be officially presented to the two artists on 6th June 2009 during
the opening of the 53rd International Art Exhibition titled Making
Worlds.

“The Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement are honouring two artists
whose ground-breaking activities have opened new poetic, conceptual and
social possibilities for artists around the globe working in all media,”
commented Director Daniel Birnbaum also stressing that “Yoko Ono and
John Baldessari have shaped our understanding of art and its
relationship to the world in which we live. Their work has
revolutionized the language of art and will remain a source of
inspiration for generations to come.”

Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono, born in Tokyo 1933, is a key figure in post-war art. A pioneer
in performance and conceptual art, she is one of the most influential
artists of our time. Long before becoming an icon in popular culture and
in peace activism, she developed artistic strategies that have left a
lasting mark both in her native Japan and in the West.

John Baldessari
John Baldessari, born in California 1931, is one today’s most important
visual artists. Often named the most important art teacher of our times,
he has above all developed a visual language entirely his own. Since the
1960s, he has worked in many disciplines and has produced an outstanding
body of work that has inspired several generations of artists.

The 53rd Exhibition, titled Making Worlds // Fare Mondi // Bantin
Duniyan // 制造世界 // Weltenmachen // Construire des Mondes // Fazer
Mundos… will take place from 7th June to 22nd November 2009 in the
Giardini and the Arsenale and elsewhere in Venice. The press preview
will take place on 4th, 5th and 6th June 2009.

President Paolo Baratta and Director Daniel Birnbaum will present the
53rd Exhibition to the national and international press on a series of
press conferences that will take place in:
Rome (March, 23rd 2009, noon, Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities)
Berlin (March, 24th 2009, 10:30 a.m., Italian Embassy)
Paris (March, 26th 2009, 11:00 a.m., Italian Cultural Institute)
London (March, 27th 2009, 10:30 a.m., Italian Cultural Institute) and
New York (March, 30th 2009, 11:30 a.m., Italian Cultural Institute).

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