Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Art Invasion of Venice - Biennale 2015

Bruce Nauman - Life, Death, Love, Hate, Pleasure, Pain
(Venice, Italy) The World of Art tornadoed into Venice last week for the preview of ALL THE WORLD'S FUTURES, flinging colors throughout the city like a giant kaleidoscope released from its cylinder. Arsenale and Giardini were the center of the storm, where Okwui Enwezor, curator of the Biennale's 56th International Art Exhibition has gathered together a montage of artists to monitor the state of the planet.

Angelus Novus by Paul Klee (1920)
Enwezor was inspired by Angelus Novus by Paul Klee, and the writing of German philosopher Walter Benjamin, who owned the painting. The Angel of History is the seed of the show. Benjamin wrote:

A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.

Everything will be taken away by Adrian Piper
I love it when the artists come to town with their divine offerings. Private palaces wake up, shops stay open late and the air is sprinkled with refreshing conversations. Creative people arrive from all over the globe to witness the birth of the exhibition. It is impossible to be everywhere you are supposed to be; you can be spirited away to someplace you never intended to go.

I went to the wrong party, which was so much fun that I skipped the right one. I stumbled into Rock & Roll Private Library over at Santa Maria Della Pieta, a hodgepodge of cool stuff collected for decades by Punk rocker Mick Jones of The Clash. Since Mick and I are the same age, he's got a lot of perfectly preserved relics from the last century that brought back personal memories -- life was so much fun! What is here in Venice is a fragment of the collection housed in London. According to the website, "Envisaged as a permanent reference library for use by both the local and international community, [the Rock & Roll Public Library] comprises, believes Jones, ‘a personal, cultural and social history of our times, and through that it extends beyond the local to the global.’"

Mick Jones & Cat Bauer - Opening of Rock & Roll Public Library, Venice
Inside Biennale, my three favorite installations were:

1. In addition to her Everything will be taken away series, Golden Lion winner Adrian Piper created the Probable Trust Registry. Three young women perched behind three corporate office desks, armed with iPads. Over their heads were three statements: I WILL ALWAYS MEAN WHAT I SAY, I WILL ALWAYS BE TOO EXPENSIVE TO BUY and I WILL ALWAYS DO WHAT I SAY I AM GOING TO DO. After reading The Rules of the Game, I signed a Personal Declaration for the first two statements, which will be sealed in Piper's archive in Berlin for 100 years. I didn't sign the last statement because I thought, what if I say I am going to do something that involves other people and they don't want to do it?

2. Oscar Murillo debuted Frequencies, his ongoing project, which I absolutely loved. Students aged 10 to 16 around the globe have canvases fixed to their classroom desks and can doodle whatever they want on them for an entire semester. The difference in the sizes of the canvas and the wealth of the countries was impressive. Some kids shared a desk, and a line was drawn down the middle of the canvas. Some countries had lots of colors; some countries only pen and ink. A website will archive each canvas and make it searchable by country, school and age, as well as subject matter and style, illustrating both the dramatic differences and astonishing similarities across continents, races, and social status.

France national pavilion

3. Céleste Boursier-Mougenot's installation for the French national pavilion is revolutions, three living trees that sing and dance while humans lounge on cushions and absorb the magic. The three Scotch pines (two outside; one inside) are mobilized by the electricity generated by the conversion of data drawn from their metabolisms -- variations in their sap flow and their sensitivity to light and shade. Part of Boursier-Mougenot's inspiration was Francesco Colonna mysterious book, The Dream of  Poliphilus, when trees morph into trans-human creatures, freed from their roots to the ground. It was so peaceful and relaxing, I could have spent all day in there, listening to the music of the trees.

ALL THE WORLD'S FUTURES runs to November 22, 2015

Ciao from Venezia,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog


  1. The World of Art tornadoed into Venice last week for the preview of ALL THE WORLD'S FUTURES, flinging colors throughout the city like a giant kaleidoscope released from its cylinder

    1. Thank you for your reporting on the Biennale. I was accepted by a gallery with my silks, but there was no way I could afford it. 500 pieces of my silk titled the Ca' d'Oro