Peter Dobey

Post image for Herzog’s Whitney Biennial Piece Is Not Overrated but Under-Thought

PARIS — In a recent article on AFC, Paddy Johnson argues that Werner Herzog’s piece in this year’s Whitney Biennial is essentially a throwaway. She sees Herzog’s contribution as a quick fix for inclusion that relies mainly on “bells and whistles” rather than substance. But her account is conspicuously reactionary and seems to be more of a response to the glowing reviews of the art writers she quotes than to Herzog’s work itself.

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Post image for The Fine Line Between Sexy and Sickness

Monet Clark’s current exhibition at Krowswork Gallery represents the first solo showing of 20 years worth of performance and video work in which her own body and life experiences serve as subject matter. Images of Clark as the ideal “California Girl” are juxtaposed with documentation of the deterioration of her body due to Environmental Illness, a condition that causes the sufferer to become allergic to common household chemicals.

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Post image for Seeing Through the Crowds Part III at the 2011 Venice Biennale: The Unofficial Exhibitions

During the Biennale, innumerable numbers of events take place outside of the official Biennale grounds of the Giardini and Arsenale, especially from countries that couldn’t afford pavilions inside the Arsenale. They either rented out abandoned spaces near it, like the Iraqi pavilion did, or, if they couldn’t afford that, asked friends who own a little art gallery in between gift shops if they could use their space. Here are some oddities of note.

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Post image for Seeing Through the Crowds at the 2011 Venice Biennale Part II: The Arsenale

The Arsenale and its Corderie (Rope Walk) compose the remainder of the curatorial effort of the Biennale’s director. It is the sprawling nasty sibling of the Padiglione Centrale, and is somewhat of a chore to tackle. The entire layout of the Arsenale this year feels disjointed. On a whole, I felt like there was a dearth of strong work. I believe Curiger had aspirations to move beyond the trends of participatory art and ostentatious work seen everywhere else in Venice and other art fairs.

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Post image for Seeing Through the Crowds at the 2011 Venice Biennale Part I: The Giardini and Pavilions

Editor’s Note: Peter Dobey published a series of photo essays (1, 2, 3) about this year’s Venice Biennale at the beginning of June. This is a long-form essay (to be published in three parts) that explores the work at the Biennale.

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PARIS — It is difficult to write about Venice, just like it is difficult to really SEE Venice. Individual experiences of art fade away into the oversaturation that is the Venice Biennale in the same way the city of Venice is sinking into the Adriatic. There is the ontological experience of Venice and the problem of one’s ability to encounter it. Then there is the physical impossibility to see everything the Biennale offers you and all the things it doesn’t, especially when in Italy.

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Post image for Photos from the 54th Venice Biennale, Part 3

More images from the world’s oldest and largest art biennial event, the Venice Biennale, including photos from the American, Egyptian, Iraqi, Israeli and Polish pavilions, view of various social events and other random sightings.

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Post image for Photos from the 54th Venice Biennale, Part 2

More images from the world’s oldest and largest art biennial event, the Venice Biennale, including photos from the François Pinault Foundation, the French, Haitian, Danish, Swedish, Swiss and the Venezuelan pavilions.

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Post image for Photos from the 54th Venice Biennale, Part 1

The voluminousness of the Venice Biennale can be overwhelming, much like the city of Venice itself. Talking with Venetian friends, I heard the city described as a “creature,” a labyrinthine monster that will suffocate you if you don’t know how to find the campos, or other open-air spaces where you can stretch out and breathe. Inhabited by more tourists than actual residents, the city is shaped by the pre-conceived notions of its visitors; in short, Venice is a place that does not fully exist. The same feeling follows you into the exhibitions of the Biennale.

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