Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Island of the Gods & The Last Venice - The Photography of Gotthard Schuh

Gotthard Schuh, Ragazzi in piazza San Marco, Venezia, 1963 © Gotthard Schuh / Fotostiftung Schweiz
(Venice, Italy) Gotthard Schuh (December 22, 1897, Berlin - December 29, 1969, Zürich) began his career as a painter, but as he approached the age of thirty, he became interested in photography, and we are fortunate that he did. Schuh had two wives and two families (not at the same time), and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 51, yet managed to capture magical images throughout Europe and the island of Bali until his death, one week after his 72nd birthday. 

The seven year old daughter of the prince of Saba gives dance class, Bali, 1938
© Fotostiftung Schweiz, Winterthur
The Swiss Ambassador to Italy himself, Bernardino Regazzoni, was at the inauguration of the Gotthard Schuh photography exhibit here in Venice on March 22nd, which has been divided into two venues. Over at the Swiss Consulate, the exhibit concentrates on Schuh's 1938 photography in Bali titled L'isola degli dèi, or Island of the Gods. My paternal grandmother was of Swiss ancestry, so it was comforting to be surrounded by so many Swiss folks, who have their own special kind of energy. Amazingly, even though he was from another culture, Schuh captured the souls of the joyous island people of Bali, and offers a deep and personal view into their ceremonies and private lives.

Gotthard Schuh, Father & Son, Bali, 1938 © Gotthard Schuh / Fotostiftung Schweiz
At the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti at Palazzo Loredan, you will find L'Ultima Venezia, or The Last Venice, dedicated to Schuff's 1963 photos of Venice. I was moved by the vintage photos and how much of Venice remains eternally the same -- another group of islanders determined to preserve their way of life.

Gotthard Schuh, La vista dal Ponte dei Sospiri, Venezia, 1963 © Gotthard Schuh / Fotostiftung Schweiz
Gian Antonio Danieli, President of IVSLA, wrote in the Preface:

"...But Venice has demonstrated scores of times that it is capable of surviving the most ruinous tragedies and of transforming itself. Our vow is that in the midst of the great changes that characterize our age, Venice will once again prove able to transform itself, without, however, losing any of the extraordinary magic that has made it so greatly loved and celebrated over the centuries. Our hope is that Schuh's photos may enable us to rediscover some of that magic so that we can ensure it is not entirely lost."

Gotthard Schuh, Street of Water, Venezia, 1963 © Gotthard Schuh / Fotostiftung Schweiz
The exhibitions run daily 11am to 6pm through May 5, 2013, and admittance to both venues is free. In cooperation with the Museum of Culture, the City of Lugano, Switzerland.

Gotthard Schuh Fotografie
L'sola Degli Dèi
Fotografie. Bali. 1938
Palazzo Trevisan degli Ulivi
Campo Sant'Agnese

L'ultima Venezia
Fotografie. Venice. 1963.
Palazzo Loredan
Campo Santo Stefano

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Arte Laguna Art Prize Venice 2013

The Last Gun (2012) by Costantine Zlatev Bulbaria 1974 - Winner - Sculpture
(Venice, Italy) The prestigious Arte Laguna Art Price is now in its seventh edition, and I can remember back in 2006 when it was a fledgling, about to take flight. Since then it has grown into a major international art prize, promoting and spreading contemporary art all over the world. The prize is open to all Artists, without any limitations of age, sex, nationality or other qualifications. Each artist can participate with one or more artworks, in one or more sections. This year the 110 finalists were selected from over 8,000 applicants ranging in ages from 19 to 68 years, from 37 countries on 5 continents. The global amount of the prizes is 180,000 euros, with the five overall winners in each category -- painting, sculpture & installation, photography, video art & performance, virtual art -- awarded a cash prize of 7,000 euros.

Boy #1 from series Boys in a City Park (2011) by Richard Ansett UK 1966 - Winner Photography
In addition, this year Arte Laguna Prize gives eight artists the opportunity to encounter different cultures thanks to the Special Prizes “Artist-in-Residence.” During the residencies, the artists will create new works that will be exhibited on the final open day. For the seventh edition, the art residencies will take place in Mumbai, Venice, Ptuj (Slovenia), Basel, Vicenza, and, for the first time, in Beijing.

Detour #21 (2012) by Ivelisse Jimenez Puerto Rico 1966 - Winner Painting
Submissions were judged by an elite panel of international jurists headed by Igor Zanti, critic and independent curator, and which included Umberto Angelini (Italy, Director of Festival Uovo), Gabriella Belli (Italy, Director of Musei Civici of Venice), Adam Budak (United States, Curator of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden of Washington), Cecilia Freschini (China, Independent Curator; founder and director of lab-Yit | the Italian Contemporary Art Platform in China), Mario Gerosa (Italy, Senior editor of AD, Digital Art Curator), Lina Lazaar (Great Britain, Expert in International Contemporary Art for Sotheby’s), Kanchi Mehta (India, Founder and Chief Curator of Chameleon Art Projects & and India Editor for Flash Art), Sabine Schaschl (Switzerland, Director and Curator of Kunsthaus Basel), Felix Schöber (Germany, Independent Curator), and Claudia Zanfi (Italy, Art Historian and Cultural Manager).

Prodigal Son (2010) by Carlos Martiel Cuba 1989 - Winner Video Art & Performance
The main exhibition space is at Tese di San Cristoforo, part of Arsenale Nord, where the finalists are on display through March 31, 2013. There is also a Virtual Art Section over at the Telecom Italia Future Center. and an Under25 Section at the Romanian Institute in Campo Santa Fosca. If you are here in Venice until March 31st, be sure to check it out. Entrance is free.

I here project (1995) by Nirit Zer Israel 1973 - Winner Virtual Art

So, all you Artists, everywhere, all over the globe, get ready for Arte Laguna Art Prize 2014. For details about the entry fee and further information, visit the Arte Laguna Art Prize site

Ciao from Venezia,
Arte Laguna Art Prize

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Venice Music Project - New Venue for Ancient Music

Liesl Odenweller and the Venetia Antiqua Ensemble
(Venice, Italy) One of the most pleasant ways to spend an evening in Venice is to enjoy classical music in an ancient venue, and there are several excellent groups that perform throughout town. Now, there is a new kid in the campo called Venice Music Project, with American soprano Liesl Odenweller center stage. It is a delightful blend of the some of the best ingredients that Italy and the USA have to offer, with the majestic church of San Giovanni Evangelista as the setting. The inaugural concert on March 1st featured music by Vivaldi, Marcello and Haendel, and Liesl was resplendent in a gown and jewelry created by the local contemporary designer, Gualti.

Venetia Antiqua Ensemble is made up of some of the most distinguished performers of Baroque music in the world, all of whom live or have studied in Venice. Individually, the musicians perform in top-quality venues, such as Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall and Musikverein, with renowned conductors -- Sir Simon Rattle, Andrea Marcon, Marc Minkowski, Alan Curtis, Sir John Eliot Gardiner -- and record with labels like Sony, Deutsche Grammophon and Towerhill. All the music is performed on original instruments or exact copies, and the choice of repertoire reaches back into the ancient past, meticulously researched and scored.

The goal of Venice Music Project is to resurrect the performance of Early Music in Venice, a tradition that dates back centuries, while, at the same time, investing a portion of the box office into restoration projects for the Church and Scuola. The Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista was one of the Venetian Republic's seven Scuole Grandi, or "Great Schools," and is dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist, whose symbol is the eagle. These "schools" were important confraternities that performed a variety of charitable functions, as well as patronizing the arts. They provided food, clothing and even burials for their poorer members, dowries to daughters, oversaw the hospitals and sponsored festivities and processions. Unlike the strictly controlled Venetian nobility, membership was open to all citizens -- in fact, no aristocrat was permitted to have a director role in a scuola. This allowed ordinary citizens to control powerful institutions, and have some level of influence upon the government. 

When Philip de Mezières, the Chancellor of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Cyprus gave San Giovanni Evangelista a piece of the True Cross in 1369, its prestige was cranked up, and it transformed into a rich and powerful organization, attracting some of Venice's wealthiest and influential citizens. They commissioned some of the Republic's most important artists to create works based on a "cross" theme, including Vittore Carpaccio's Miracle of the Relic of the Holy Cross at the Rialto Bridge (The Healing of the Madman) (1496), now in the Accademia. 

Miracolo della Croce a Rialto by Carpaccio
In addition to the concerts of the resident orchestra, Venetia Antiqua Ensemble, Venice Music Project has created a season of Baroque music concerts, where international groups will perform the seventeenth and eighteenth century music that was celebrated in Venice. The schedule of performances, through July 2013, can be found HERE.

Further information can be found at the Venice Music Project site, in both English and Italian, where you can book in advance. Tickets (€30 full price, €20 reduced, €15 students and children under 12 free) are available at the venue itself, and at most hotels in Venice.
Tel: +39 345-791-1948

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Venice Celebrates Women

(Venice, Italy) March 8th is International Women's Day, and Venice is going all out with a long weekend -- March 7 to March 10 - jammed with activities centered around the theme, with some of the city's most distinguished cultural institutions participating. One Billion Rising, that powerful, deeply moving short film you just watched, was screened yesterday at the round table entitled Immagini amiche - Il ruolo svolto dai mass-media nella costruzione dell'estetica femminile or "Friendly Images - The role played by the media in the construction of female aesthetics" over at the Ateneo Veneto. 

Advertising and music videos have always sexed up the image of the female, but it has become increasingly more violent and dark in recent years. The image you see on the left, a dead woman on the top of a car, strangled by a tie held by a well-dressed man -- who is not wearing a tie -- is an ad for a Duncan Quinn suit. Quinn is a former leveraged-buyout lawyer who quit to go into fashion. His suits sell for $4,000 - $30,000.

Below is a clip of Rihanna and Britney Spears singing "S&M" at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Dressed in bondage bodysuits and wearing handcuffs, the crowd roars its approval as the singers crawl around and pole dance. Some of the lyrics:

I may be bad, but I'm perfectly good at it. 
Sex in the air; I don't care; I love the smell of it. 
Sticks and stones may break my bones, 
but chains and whips excite me.

It's violence glamorized to the max, and it is a rare female -- and often male -- performer that does not have to jump through those hoops to succeed -- everyone from Beyoncé to Christina Aguilera to Lady Gaga has promoted those type of images. It is a far cry from Aretha Franklin belting out "Respect" in 1967. Compared to the reality of the strong video from One Billion Rising, it is a sad joke -- they have actually commercialized the idea that it's GREAT for a Black woman and a White woman -- wearing opposite colors, of course -- to be in chains. It is an advertising campaign to sell slavery, and nothing more:

The round table was inspired by a European Parliament report of September 3, 2008 on how marketing and advertising affect equality between women and men. The EP argued that to combat gender stereotypes in the media, it would be a good idea to educate children so they would develop a critical attitude about the ads they are bombarded with. And you know what -- it's working! The young people in the audience from schools in Venice and the Veneto were intelligent, witty and talented, and had been educated to create their own positive media in response to the dark images -- another reason why I love Europe.
It was heartening that the US President signed the reauthorization of VAWA, the Violence Against Women Act, just three days ago on March 7th, despite the efforts by Congress to block it, or water it down. According to Wikipedia, the word "billion" in the One Billion Rising global campaign refers to the statistic that one in three women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime, or about one billion, and I am pleased that the US government has joined Europe in addressing this serious world-wide problem.

UPDATE - March 20, 2013: 

UN adopts plan to combat violence against women

"International solidarity is needed for women's empowerment and preventing this regressive mood, whether in the developing countries or developed, or in the Middle East in particular," Tallawy told two reporters afterwards. "It's a global wave of conservatism, of repression against women, and this paper is a message that if we can get together, hold power together, we can be a strong wave against this conservatism."

Tallawy, who is president of the National Council for Women-Egypt, said she has told this to Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi, who came from the Muslim Brotherhood,

"I believe in women's cause. I don't take money from the government. I work voluntarily. If they want to kick me out they can. But I will not change my belief in women," she said. "Women are the slaves of this age. This is unacceptable, and particularly in our region."

"Star" dress by Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada
Over at the Museo Correr ballroom, the Fondazione Museo Civici di Venezia celebrates International Women's Day with the Madrid-born Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada, who has curated a vibrant exhibition, The Trades of Fashion, featuring her "Spring-Summer 2013" collection, which was first presented at the latest edition of the Mercedes Benz Fashion week in Madrid. The ballroom is alive with 31 of Agatha's whimsical creations, which reinterpret the icons she holds dear -- the "cage," "heart," "star," and "umbrella" dresses -- that have accompanied her throughout her 31-year career.

Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada first entered the fashion world in 1981 in Madrid, where she triumphed with her first women's collection, and soon thereafter opened her first shop. Her creations morphed into wholly artistic expressions, which were exhibited in leading galleries throughout Spain. In 1991, Agatha began issuing licenses for children's clothes, accessories, furniture and other products, and today the brand is distributed internationally. The collection will be at the Correr through May 5, 2013. The exhibition is included with the ticket that allows you entrance into the St. Mark's Square museums, so you can stop by and let some sunshine and smiles into your life, even if it's raining. Here's some more images from the collection, courtesy of the Museo Correr.

"Cage" by Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada

"Heart" by Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada

"Umbrella" by Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada
In a city which, in ancient times, turned a large percentage of its female population into courtesans, it is refreshing to see that in the 21st Century Venice is taking the lead in transforming the feminine image into something dynamic. On a personal level, on the Giornata della Donne, March 8 itself, a kind and generous Venetian woman gave me the gift of going to her hairdresser, transforming my droopy locks into a fabulous do. Only a confident, compassionate woman would want to lionize another woman and make her more beautiful. This type of sacred feminine energy will transform the world.

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Paolo Ganz Live! at the Marco Polo Bookshop

Paolo Ganz (center) with Marco Centasso on bass Photo: Elena Cadamuro
(Venice, Italy) A touch of Greenwich Village wafted through Venice on Thursday evening, February 28th, when Paolo Ganz lit up Salisada San Giovanni Crisostomo with his words, accompanied by Marco Centasso on bass. The evening was called, "Serenissima Hotel," or "The Most Serene Hotel," amusingly inspired by Venice's former title, "La Serenissima Republica," or "The Most Serene Republic." In the little square outside the Marco Polo bookshop, the author read tales filled with Venetian passion and longing about young love consummated in the shadows of the streets, and boys who want to cross the bridge and become somebody -- stories that captured the heart of growing up in Venice.

Claudio, the owner of Libreria Marco Polo, set out two jugs of wine and some nibbles, and we were told to help ourselves. Libreria Marco Polo is an independent bookshop with a large selection of English-language books. The little square is located right outside the Malibran Theater, and is a thorough-way for local foot traffic passing from Castello to Rialto, so in addition to the invited guests, people out to walk the dog or hurrying home to prepare dinner were treated to a refreshing break in their daily routine. That's why it reminded me of the Greenwich Village years ago -- it was like an old-fashioned community event where you would drop by a little club on Bleecker Street or West 4th to see your friends perform back in the days when the Village was filled with artists, poets, writers, musicians and actors.

Paolo Ganz
Unlike many authors, Ganz is also a performer, and he put on a good show with humor and wit. He commented that his publisher said the title of his next book, Perché a nessuno piace il mio caffè or Why Doesn't Anyone Like My Coffee was too long, but I disagree. He finished by blowing some wicked blues on the harmonica, a perfect finale. I always say you can tell a lot about a man by the way he blows the harp, and Paolo Ganz is a cool guy

It was a special evening, aptly titled -- in that moment, Venice truly felt like La Serenissima once again. 

Libreria Marco Polo
"[Venice] is, in our day, the only home of justice, peace, and liberty, 
the only refuge for the good, and the only harbor for those who seek to 
lead a quiet life after being beaten about by war and tyranny. 
A city rich in gold, but richer in fame; powerful in arms, but more powerful 
in virtue; built on solid foundations of marble, but also upon the still more 
solid base of civil concord; girdled by the waters of the sea, and better 
still by the counsels of the wise."
 --Petrarch writing to Pietro da Bologna, 1364

“Nowadays, the very noble city of the Venetians is the only home of liberty, peace and justice, the only refuge of the good people, the only harbour where the ships of those willing to live well and safely arrive”, wrote Petrarch in a letter dated 1364 - See more at:
“Nowadays, the very noble city of the Venetians is the only home of liberty, peace and justice, the only refuge of the good people, the only harbour where the ships of those willing to live well and safely arrive”, wrote Petrarch in a letter dated 1364 - See more at:
Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog