Monday, November 7, 2011


(Venice, Italy) For the first time in the history of the Venice Biennale, the revenue earned by the institution itself equals the public funding for the entire 2011 financial year -- SIXTEEN MILLION SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND EURO (€16,6 million). The Art Biennale is currently Italy's most visited art show -- 384,446 people have visited the exhibition as of yesterday, Sunday, November 6, 2011. Established in 1895, the Venice Biennale is one of the most prestigious cultural institutions on the planet.

More sponsorships, more visitors, and more merchandising were factors that have added to the positive results. Not only the Art section, but also the Cinema, Dance, Music and Theater sections have been especially dynamic this year, attracting creative, energetic, intelligent visitors from all over the world. 

WE HAVE BECOME NUMB TO NUMBERS. We have become so used to hearing fantasy figures about how many trillions of dollars, euros and monopoly money are wasted... on insane military manueveurs, collapsing banks, bailouts, the European Union going down, the US broke and powerless,... and other oddities... Wall Street bankers and corporate soldiers reaping millions and millions of dollars in bonuses, spitting the crisis in everyone's face... Iran and its fashionable new nuclear bomb, defiant,... Israel going insane and taking it out on Palestine,... Italy thugging it out with this one and that as its short Prime Minister -- who is basically just a businessman and all that entails -- cannot understand why he cannot have some old fashion bunga bunga like everyone else.. , Sarkozy behaving like a soap-opera Napoleon shouting vive la France! and Merkel playing the part of the stout German matriarch... the formerly-eloquent Barack Obama rendered speechless... and everyone looking to a bemused China to figure the whole thing out -- nothing but a bunch of hired actors playing a role.. and so much funny, funny money -- so many bogus mathematical formulas no one can understand because they are not based on reality... so many crazy Goldman Sachs numbers based on nothing but the research of some mad scientist they've got hidden in a cupboard... crazy to even Goldman Sachs... to such an extent that they have gone nuts and started beating up Occupy Wall Street's little People's bank. 


The PHYSICAL REALITY, the actual figures of 16,6 million euro and 384,446 people might seem like peanuts. But if it is based on accurate accounting, actual human presence, and real ticket purchases, it is a valid measure. I believe we need to readjust our thinking and get back to reality: how many tickets did you sell? How much did each sponsor contribute? How much did that exhibit cost? How much did you pay the artist? Does the artist have real-life, artist-suffering credentials, or was he/she created by his/her government? How much did you pay for that tote bag? Enough with all this posturing and bullying by bankers and the lot. REALITY CHECK: YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU WHEN YOU DIE. Therefore, you'd better lighten up and find something you can take with you when you die, and you'd better do it fast.

For me, this year's Venice Biennale -- in all its sections -- has been a physical manifestation of some of the highest qualities that humanity has to offer. 

People's Republic of China
Photo: La Biennale
As we come to the final days of the Art Biennale -- it closes on November 27 -- I sincerely feel that this year's theme -- ILLUMInations -- has been reflected not only in the art, but by the presence of illuminated visitors from nations all over the globe. Venice herself has been more vibrant and alive thanks to creative energy of La Biennale. Spaces and places long dormant and asleep have opened their doors and welcomed a wave of humanity through their doors. Local businesses -- restaurants, hotels, mom and pop shops, luxury fashion stores -- even the gondoliers -- have felt the kiss of Biennale energy upon their cheeks, allowing Venice to keep her head above water while much of the world outside appeared to be sinking. 

Urs Fischer
Photo: Peter Dobey for Hyperallergic
With so much dire news currently enveloping our planet, it's reassuring to know that kindred spirits, working together, are still able to illuminate the darkness -- and make a profit!

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog