The Altersea Opera: a journey of displacement and belonging

Written by Natalia Muntean

A poetic story exploring the tensions between the desire to stay and the need to leave, The Altersea Opera will dominate the Nordic Pavilion during this year’s La Biennale di Venezia. The Pavilion will transform into a dragon ship powered by magical sails filled with stories and mythological water creatures trying to find their way back to their places of origin, conceptualised by the Swedish artist Lap-See Lam.

The imaginary ship is based on the Floating Restaurant Sea Palace, a Chinese dragon ship built in Shanghai and decorated by master craftsmen. The three-storey vessel served as a restaurant in Gothenburg before becoming a ghost ship at Gröna Lund theme park in Stockholm. Lap-See Lam found it dilapidated and moved it to a boatyard in the Stockholm Archipelago. Now the giant dragon’s head prow will travel from the Arctic archipelago to the Venetian lagoon.

The audio-visual installation is influenced by various sources, such as the Red Boat Opera Company and themes of belonging, mobility, and generational loss, central to Lap-See Lam’s work. The Swedish artist explores the effects of displacement on people and objects across different contexts and times, digging into the depths of generational loss.

The work on the 2024 edition of the Nordic Pavilion is led by Moderna Museet in Stockholm. In collaboration with Asrin Haidari, curator of Swedish and Nordic Art at the museum, Lam has invited artist Kholod Hawash (Finland) and composer Tze Yeung Ho (Norway), as well as singers, costume designers, filmmakers, and a certified bamboo scaffold engineer, to contribute. 

The 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia will take place between 20 April and 24 November 2024, with the official inauguration happening on the 18 April 2024.
Photo: Mattias Lindbäck/Moderna Museet


There’s nothing to see here.