Artist Navin Rawanchaiku's latest site-specific work at the 54th Venice Biennale converted the Paradiso Gallery and cafe into a unique presentation of Navinland. The audience is invited to participate with this constructed idea of 'paradise' by watching television broadcasts announcing the aims of Navinland, carrying Navinland flags and getting their special Navinland passports stamped. Using the language of government propaganda, movie posters, and sensationalist mass-media adverts the artist explores the idea of national identity by narrating the story of a fantastical Navinland. He portrays himself within these narratives as the central protagonist, leading the way to 'paradise.'

The Navinland Checkpoint at the entrance of the pavilion immediately reminded me of the long and difficult visa process preceding my 6 day visit to Venice. The process of getting a Navinland passport stamped made me laugh; it is a humorous and satirical way to look at the sad reality where based on your citizenship you are forced to endure longer queues and complicated bureaucratic processes just for a 6 day trip.

The Navinland posters below reflect two very different nations, America and China. It is interesting to note how the artist incorporates local mass media into his work based on context, place and audience.

Navinism 2007. Woodblock print on paper, 79.5 X45 cm/paper 100X70 cm (edition of 25).

Another comparison between two movie posters where the first one was exhibited in Mumbai and the second was a Seoul project two years later.

Navins of Bollywood Mumbai 2006.

Imagine Nabin. 2008. acrylic on canvas. 170X280 cm.

The artist is of Indian origin, was raised in Thailand and is currently settled in Japan so aspects of his mixed identity are often visible in his paintings. Here are some more images of his work:

Navin Rawanchaikul. Love Whispers from a Mayan Taxi. 2006 (collection: Jean-Miche Beurdeley and Patsri Bunnag). Photo by Tanapol Kaewpring.

"Win the masses in Their Millions for the Navin United Front" (May 7, 2007), Selected Works, Vol.1, p.12

Imagine Nabin, 2008, off-set, 10X15cm, 96 pages.

Navinland graffiti near the Thai Pavilion. Venice Biennale 2011. Photo by Aditi Kulkarni.

Reference: Rawanchaikul, N. 2011. Paradiso Di Navin: A Mission to Establish Navinland. Paradiso Gallery: Venice Mertens, B. 2008. The artist Navin Rawanchaikul calls for Navins of the world to unite. The New York Times. [online]. Available from: Accessed 25th July 2011.

Aditi Kulkarni