VENICE — Nothing quite captured the absurdity that is the vernissage of La Biennale better than Ragnar Kjartansson’s fishing boat, the S. S. Hangover, floating through a barrel-vaulted and colonnaded boat parking structure carrying six horn players performing British composer Gavin Bryars’ “White’s SS” (1977) as Tilda Swinton looked on elegantly from a grassy beach at the end of the massive Arsenale. Yes, I actually saw Tilda Swinton. I died.
In the last few days, the world is watching Turkey erupt in protest after Turkish authorities responded with shocking violence to peaceful protesters trying to save a small park in central Istanbul. A solidarity protest took place on the opening day of the Venice Biennale, and another arose at New York’s Zuccotti Park.
The British pavilion at the Venice Biennale has a rather direct engagement with the country’s current war efforts, and yet the piece that was recently deemed too inflammatory and effectively censored was actually aimed at injustices against endangered birds.
Just like any self-respecting modern spectacle, the Venice Biennale has spawned a healthy coterie of iOS apps. It isn’t entirely clear how large the market is for these apps, given the scale of the Biennale and the attendant difficulty of meaningfully indexing the shows.
[This post has been corrected, see below for details]
Just as Pope Francis begins his tenure at the head of the Catholic Church, the announcement comes that the Vatican will finally have its own pavilion at the Venice Biennale, themed around the Book of Genesis.
The artist list has just been released for New Museum associate director and curator Massimiliano Gioni’s 2013 Venice Biennale, and it features a slew of established names, including Tacita Dean, Carl Andre, and Bruce Nauman. More provocatively, the show will also feature some appropriated objects: “the work of various untrained artists, such as Haitian vodou flags and tantric drawings.”
A look at the emerging art scene in San Salvador, El Salvador.
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS — “Wow bizzarro!” I hear a visitor exclaim with a delighted grin as they walk out the front door of the San Angel Folk Art gallery. The venue is one of those quirky finds one relishes during an art tour in a new city. It offers a colorful breath of fresh air to a predominating white cube aesthetic, and a friendly alternative to the “take ourselves too seriously” attitude of many in the contemporary gallery world.
Miami — I asked three art professionals I deeply respect, who live in three culturally different cities, to share an artist or an exhibition they feel provided interesting insight in to contemporary artistic practice within “developing” parts of the world.
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.
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.
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.