Sunday, June 2, 2013

Imagination Back in Vogue at 2013 Venice Art Biennale

Carl Gustav Jung
The Red Book [page 655], 1915-1959
Paper, ink, tempera, gold paint, red leather binding
40 x 31 x 10cm
© 2009 Foundation of the Works of C.G. Jung, Zürich. First published by W.W. Norton & Co., New York 2009
(Venice, Italy) Massimiliano Gioni, the curator of the 55th International Festival of Contemporary Art, anchors his exhibition The Encyclopedic Palace on two formidable bookends:  the esoteric Red Book by Carl G. Jung, and Marion Auriti's I Palazzo Enciclopedico, a physical model of an imaginary museum meant to house all worldly knowledge. At age 39, Gioni is the youngest artistic director in the 118-year-old history of the Venice Biennale, which was the very first international art event in the world back in 1895. In terms of earth-years, Gioni may be the youngest, but it is clear that he is a very old soul.

Photo by Vincenzo Latronico
Until September 2009, only about two dozen people had ever seen the contents of The Red Book, the mysterious 205-page manuscript written and illustrated by the renowned Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Gustav Jung, in which he attempted to give conscious voice to his unconscious mind. Until 2001, Jung's heirs had denied even scholars access to the book until persuaded by the historian Sonu Shamdasani that the time was right for the information to make its way into the public's domain. Now, at the 55th Venice Biennale International Festival of Contemporary Art, the entire world can have a gander at selected pages of the book Jung composed back in 1914 to about 1930, when he was 40-55 years old. I've had the great honor of hearing Shamdasani speak, and it was clear that he was the right man for the job of releasing Jung's precious research into the collective consciousness. You can read what I wrote about that experience three years ago here, about half-way down the page:

Oxygen - Finally a Breath of Air!



Marino Auriti
Il Encyclopedico Palazzo del Mondo or Encyclopedic Palace of the World, ca. 1950s
55th International Art Exhibition, Il Palazzo Enciclopedico, la Biennale di Venezia
Photo By Francesco Galli
Courtesy la Biennale di Venezia
When I saw the actual model of the Encyclopedic Palace by Marino Auriti erect in the center of Arsenale, I was moved to tears, thinking of the long journey it had taken for it to finally reach Italian soil. Auriti, a self-taught Italian-American artist had registered the patent for his museum of knowledge on November 16, 1955. From his statement of purpose:

The building would have twenty-four entrances, 126 bronze statues of “writers, scientists, and artists past, present, and future” and, on the piazza, 220 Doric columns with more statues of writers, scientists, artists.  At each corner would be domed laboratories, topped by statues of allegorical figures representing each of the four seasons, much like the Ponte Santa Trinità. 

It is amazing that Auriti believed in his vision so fervently -- a 2,300-foot-tall skyscraper to house all worldly knowledge to be built in the mall in Washington, D. C., the capital of his adopted country -- that he had the incentive to register his design at the US Patent office! After being left to crumble in storage after Auriti's death in 1980, the 11-foot-tall model Auriti built of the Encyclopedic Palace was resurrected by his loving granddaughters and the American Folk Art Museum in 2004. You can read more about the amazing journey at a post I wrote here:

The Encyclopedic Palace Inspires the 2013 Venice International Exhibition of Contemporary Art


Now the Encyclopedic Palace is here in Venice as the star of the 55th International Contemporary Art Festival, a prime example of one man's imagination brought to life. Marino Auriti has achieved his goal of creating a space to house all worldly knowledge, although not exactly in the way he envisioned it. The physical space is the ever-expanding Venice Biennale, a powerhouse of ancient and contemporary knowledge that coexists in space and time; the seed of intelligence that has gathered like-minded thinkers together is Auriti's imagination, enhanced by Gioni's imagination, enhanced by the imaginations of the human beings that make up the Board of La Biennale that chose Gioni as curator.

From the New York Times

Paolo Baratta, the longtime president of the Biennale, said that “after 14 years of having traditional curators I thought it was time to ask a man of the next generation.” 

“At a time when contemporary art is flooding the world,” he added, “it seemed to make more sense to present a show that doesn’t just include a list of artists from the present but rather looks at today’s art through the eyes of history.”

Massimiliano Gioni
Curator of the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia
Installation view Il Palazzo Enciclopedico
Photo by Francesco Galli
Courtesy la Biennale di Venezia
Massimiliano Gioni stated: "The Encyclopedic Palace is a show that illustrates a condition we all share: we ourselves are media,  channeling images, or at times even finding ourselves possessed by images."

Personally, I have always believed that we are indeed, media, channeling and projecting images from our unconscious minds. Most people simply regurgitate the images they have been fed by the mass-media machine, too afraid or uninspired to project an original thought on their own.The brave artists, scientists, writers, and musicians who are not afraid to stand alone have worked with the unconscious mind for millennea, often far ahead of their time, and often subjected to ridicule.

This year, the brilliant imagination of a man once considered an eccentric Italian immigrant -- Marino Auriti -- reaches us from half a century ago, just a wink in time, inspiring the oldest (and wisest) art festival in the world.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. Massimiliano Gioni, the curator of the 55th International Festival of Contemporary Art, anchors his exhibition The Encyclopedic Palace on two formidable bookends: the esoteric Red Book by Carl G. Jung, and Marion Auriti's I Palazzo Enciclopedico, a physical model of an imaginary museum meant to house all worldly knowledge.

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