Saturday, November 21, 2009

La Biennale, the Entity

Kazuyo Sejima
(Venice, Italy) The Art Sector of La Biennale concludes tomorrow, which gives me the opportunity to write about La Biennale, the Entity. 

That photo is of Kazuyo Sejima, the first female Director of the Architecture Sector, who will curate the 12th International Architecture Exhibition on August 29 to November 21, 2010. Born in Ibaraki, Japan in 1956, Kazuyo Sejima is a leading exponent of contemporary architecture.

A quick recap: La Biennale is divided into six different sectors: Art, Architecture, Cinema, Dance, Music and Theatre. The only thing that is missing, in my view, is Literature, and then we would have a perfect seven:) I remember the first year of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. No one was sure if the public would attend a book festival, but they came in masses, standing in line for hours to catch certain events. 

The Art and Architecture Sectors of La Biennale alternate every year. This year we had Art -- from which, in all honesty, we do need an entire year to recover -- so, in 2010, we will have Architecture. I never used to attend Architecture, but after last year, I thought the architects had surpassed the artists in their offerings -- in fact, I felt the architects were becoming the artists -- so I am looking forward to 2010. 

Back in March, the theme of the Dance Sector this year was Degree Zero; that is where we started: at zero with Director Ismael Ivo. It has been like lifting off a spaceship, but I think we are finally off into outer space. One of my favorite sayings is: If the foundation is rotten, the structure will collapse. If the foundation is solid, the structure can reach to the heavens. Ismael Ivo is a real human being, and the core he is creating has a jewel at its center. Degree Zeros' focus is on the creation of a national center dedicated to contemporary dance training. So, all you dancers, get ready to move to Venice!

During the film festival, on September 9th, I had the great opportunity to attend the inaugural conference at La Biennale's newly restored headquarters, Ca' Giustinian, a magnificient palazzo on the Grand Canal. The Council of Europe re-christened the ancient rooms of the palace with their conference on domestic violence against women. This is from Wikipedia:

The Council of Europe (French: Conseil de l'Europe) is the oldest international organisation working towards European integration, having been founded in 1949. It has a particular emphasis on legal standards, human rights, democratic development, the rule of law and cultural co-operation. It has 47 member states with some 800 million citizens.

The most famous conventional bodies of the Council of Europe are the European Court of Human Rights, which enforces the European Convention on Human Rights, and the European Pharmacopoeia Commission, which sets the quality standards for pharmaceutical products in Europe. The Council of Europe's work has resulted in standards, charters and conventions to facilitate cooperation between European countries and further integration.

To read the complete article, please click here: Council of Europe

After the conference, we had cocktails and hors d'œuvre on the terrace, which has an stupendous view of the Grand Canal and the lagoon, the triangle of the Dogana far below. I even had a chance to speak with Google Folks, who were there because they were sponsoring a Domestic Violence Awareness Contest in October. Unfortunately, due to my own domestic distractions, I did not announce it in time, but you can still see the results here: I Beat You I told the Google Folks that I would not exist if it were not for Google, and that I gave them my deepest appreciation. Yay, Google! Ca' Giustinian is open to the public; you can even have lunch on the ground floor terrace between the Bauer Palazzo and the Monaco.

At the final press conference of the film festival, the President, Paolo Baratta said that the Mostra del Cinema was part of a huge stimulation plan for the island of Lido itself, and that the film festival needed to prove it was a very vibrant organization in order to exist. It is difficult for me to imagine that someone could seriously ask the question: What use are international festivals? but, after everything I've experienced lately, I am well aware that this point of view exists.

Paolo Baratta said to look at the Venice Film Festival in terms of a publishing company, and that is a concept I can understand very well. Every publishing house is different -- and that is an important word: house. A publisher feels like a house; at some places you feel warm and at home, and at others you can't wait to leave. Also, in the world of publishing, things take Time. If I finish writing a book tomorrow, you will not read it until some time in the future -- not like a blog:)

Paolo Baratta said that the Venice film festival hopes to bring films up to the surface which would otherwise sink. Publishers are remembered for this. Great publishers never look at the fashion of the time, but look at the long view. A good publishing house brings up new talent. We must build our selections so they are recognizable as a selection of the Venice Film Festival.

When he said those words, I got goosebumps. That kind of thinking is why I respect Paolo Baratta so much, and the quality of films that the Director, Marco Mueller (who is very clever) uncovers always excite me.

The Music Sector, directed by Luca Francesconi, concluded on October 3rd, with an amazing night down at the Arsenale inside Teatro alle Tese. There were stages scattered all over the inside, high on ladders and down on the ground, with wild lighting and video projection. It went on for hours, and you could wander in and out, drinking excellent red wine from the Loredan Gasparini winery -- they even gave us food! The highlight, for me, was when 94-year-old David Honeyboy Edwards played the blues. I had to run backstage like a groupie and kiss him! I could not resist! From Wikipedia:

David "Honeyboy" Edwards (born June 28, 1915, Shaw, Mississippi, United States[1]) is a Grammy Award-winning Delta blues guitarist and singer from the American South. As of October 2009, Honeyboy Edwards, at age 94, and his close friend, Pinetop Perkins (age 96) are the oldest and arguably, the last Delta blues players still touring the United States remaining from the last century. 

To read the entire article, click here: HONEYBOY

Finally, on November 4, 5 and 6, the admirable Maurizio Scapparo, Director of the Theatre Sector, closed the theme of Mediterraneo - 40 with Polvere di Baghdad, a production inspired by 1001 Nights, and starring another one of the good guys, Massimo Ranieri.

La Biennale feels like a warm house filled with the most fascinating people on the planet. It is a place to create and experiment, where it is okay to do things differently than the norm, yet still have commercial appeal. There are some hits and some misses, some great successes and some fantastic failures. But there is freedom, and there is creativity, and there is fun and happiness and joy!

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer

1 comment:

  1. Cara Cat Bauer, sono Viana Conti, la curatrice della mostra "Paso Doble Vaccari-Ghiglione alla Galleria veneziana Michela Rizzo e ti voglio ringraziare per la tua visita e la sensibilità delle tue osservazioni. Al prossimo incontro nel mondo dell'arte! Viana Conti


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