Prologue: Quick tour of 52nd Biennale di Venezia

La Biennale di Venezia 52nd International Art Exhibition - Venice

We arrange to meet a group of colleagues outside the Giardini to retrieve our preview passes. We get them from the flag-draped ‘Canadian’ table located just outside the Biennale entrance gates.
Once in we rush to as many pavilions as possible before we make our way to the official opening of the Canadian pavilion. First France, where Sophie Calle has installed (with the direction of Daniel Burin) a mesmerizing array of responses to one email. The text of which can be found in vinyl lettering on the wall opposite to the entrance. It’s overwhelming the amount of material – text, video, film, and photo – an ambitious and obsessive installation.

Then the British pavilion, an eccentric presentation for which Tracy Emin has created a series of uncharacteristically subtle drawings … we’re still not sure about the tree branches in the centre of the main space though. At the Nordic pavilion we find an installation that takes the form of a travel agency promoting Baghdad as a tourist destination. Conceived of by artist Adel Abidin, it’s a tragically ironic, often tongue-in-cheek reminder of the Iraqi situation. Russia has a group exhibition entitled CLICKIHOPE, in Spain we view the group exhibition Broken Paradise, Venezuela, Switzerland, Germany are interesting … then we run into some acquaintances. Conversation is quick … what we’ve seen, what’s a write-off and which pavilions are not to be missed. We tear over to America … but with an hour and a half queue, we don’t actually see the much-talked-about Felix Gonzalez-Torres installation. No time to waste, we move on … the Italian pavilion is next … one of the Biennale’s two main international presentations curated by Director Robert Storr. The other component – housed in the Arsenale – occupies vast exhibition halls and includes the African and Chinese pavilions.
We finally arrive at the Canadian pavilion for the official opening reception of David Altmejd’s exhibition INDEX. Sipping chilled Prosecco and nibbling some quite good cheese, we navigate a crowd comprising members of the Canadian and international art world and dotted with colleagues and friends. After a drink (or two) we end-up in the exhibition space – it’s a confounding installation of mirrors with spatterings of white paint, crystals, S&M gear, dildos, faux fur, tree branches, fake birds, men morphing into animals and one big, seated werewolf – quite phantasmagorical and ‘site-specific’. The Canadian contribution felt out of place given the breadth of oeuvres in other pavilions rooted in contemporary issues … often exploring situations of conflict and war. Robert Storr certainly embraced the conflict theme in his curatorial direction and Lebanon’s inaugural participation spoke volumes.

1 commentaire:

Anonymous a dit...

good luck.. sounds like your’e having fun. can’t wait too see some pictures.