“A dream within a dream”
Arriving in Venice in a Vaporette the Grand Canal comes into view shimmering and moving between that memorable sky, gondolas cutting across the choppy water, Palazzos and grand homes fitting close together demanding you look at them and you think it is all dreamlike and you are smiling and maybe “life is a dream” as that old rock and roll song goes and then you go to your hotel and prepare for the next “dream” event shown in the Giardini.
The Encyclopaedic Palace is a breakaway dream based on an Italian artist Marino Auriti who designed a building to hold all the worlds knowledge. It was intended to house all of humanities achievements. The desire to see and know everything. In his lifetime the building model was shown once. But here it greets you at the beginning of the Arsenal, one artist among 160 other artists showing his model. In it is a testament to mans dreams. In the spirit of this idea the curator of the 55th Biennale Massimiliano Gioni has taken this idea and has tried to fight the tunnel vision that has developed in the art world. Art Marino can be made by outsiders, visionaries, philosophers, and American Shakers. Carl Jung worked oh his famous Red Book for sixteen years and it was kept secret till recently. It is the first artist exhibition you see at the Central Pavilion in the Gardini building – the unconscious is beautifully drawn from his dreams. Rudolph Steiner’s whole wall of blackboard drawings of unknown energy paths gives Cy Twombly’s writtings a run. Fischli and Weisses roomful of unfired clay scultptures playfully and simply show the multipal facets of life. The representation of the invisible is a central theme mystics and painters of the 20th century are shown. There is more to us than what you see and blurring the idea of who qualifies as an artist well stretches your imagination.
Who stood out…strong women…Guo Fengyi, Maria Lassnig, Cathy Wilkes, Cindy Sherman and someone I really like Lynette Yiadom Boakye – watch her. This girl paints a painting a day, black people, imaginary people -mysterious, brooding. She’s making up for the lack of showing ordinary black people in the art world, huge talent, go girl! On my walkabout at the pavilions, I got lost in the Greece exhibition Stefano’s Tsivopoulos. He attempted to show our relationship to money putting it in a broader philosophical perspective a dream and reflection on the human condition and the concept of value done through videos. Do you know there are 37 other alternatives to our printed money? Very interesting. If you want to know what they are write me. You will be surprised. Lots of works on trees artists have them on their minds. Swinging trees, trees you talk to and they respond they are at the Finland exhibition. Looking around I saw people talking to them.
Mark Manders at the Dutch Pavilion. His mind and talent deep and creative. I loved all his sculptures. The fox/mouse/belt says it all. Sarah Sze, at the US Pavilion, her colourful assemblages trying to measure or model the universe – an attempt to find equilibrium. The aspiration to model complexity and the impossibility of that undertaking is her on site theme. What a magnificent failure. The world is antifragile no need to find equilibrium. Lara Almarcegui showed in the Spanish pavilion. Her mounds of construction material never looked more beautiful. Tavares Strachan at the Bahama pavilion- loved his re-enacting the historic narrative of the 1909 polar expedition of Robert Peary and Matthew Alexander Henson. Large collages of animals – very beautiful with an exploding neon sign that greets one at the opening. Berlinde De Bruycheres is shown at the Belgium pavilion “Cripplewood” yes, again talking about trees – he shows the metamorphosis of a monumental fallen tree into a vulnerable and disfigured human body. The artist casts the tree in wax and covers its translucent skin with ropes, straps, and hooks and lays it down on a soft bed of pillows and towels in deep red colors that brings to mind Venetian colours. Knock out and memorable. The Chinese show, Transfiguration, I found special. He Yunchang presented 2013 bottles filled with sea water collected off the Venetian coast with a number and his signature. I think he was the only artist that truly put the show in its proper place and time. I loved the digital explorations of sophisticated 3d modelling software by Zhang Xiaotao his recreation of a temple Sakyasi in a surreal space. Captivating. And the Google Bricks by Shu Yon was one of the few artists that took on the Internet and the control of access. He compiled 1500 of the most common slogans to appear on Chinese micro blogs and the English equivalent and encapsulated them in translucent bricks to make a wall.
The show goes till November 24, 2013. Also the show of Manet at the Doges Palace. You have a chance to see Manets Olympia 1863 next to Titians Venus of Urbino 1539. It’s a once in a lifetime look at two masters painting the same theme – beautiful seductive women. Well one gets tired at looking at nature, political drawings, and wars. After all art can also delight one.
NEED TO KNOW
The Venice Biennale is the only fair where a country chooses which of its artists will represent them at the fair. Unlike most fairs, which are gallery driven.