Monday, 4 December 2017

Contemporary Art in Venice: Biennale Closes - V-A-C Foundation Opens + Gianni Berengo Gardin

Christine Macel & Paolo Baratta - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) The 57th Art Biennale, Viva Arte Viva, curated by Christine Macel, ended last Sunday, November 27, and was a huge success, with over 615,000 visitors, a 23% increase over 2015. In addition, more than 23,500 visitors attended the three preview days on May 10-12 alone. At the Open Meeting with the Italian and international press, President Paolo Baratta also expressed his satisfaction with the number of young people who attended -- more than a third of visitors were under the age of 26.

Last day of Viva Arte Viva - Photo: Cat Bauer
One journalist asked what the reason for the rise in attendance was. Baratta offered several theories. The Biennale does not advertise except for some local banners in Venice, so perhaps the increase was due to word of mouth and social media. But perhaps it was due to some deeper phenomenon, a growing thirst for first-hand knowledge. Contemporary art has grown more familiar to the public. And many students came to the Biennale on organized trips with their teachers, an activity to which the Biennale dedicates a lot of resources.

Opening for Daniela Delfina Dell'Orto - Photo: Cat Bauer
Personally, I think that young people -- at least here in Europe -- do have a growing interest in contemporary art, a real-life respite from the bombardment of the cyber world. On November 10th, I was at the opening for Daniela Delfina Dell'Orto at the Andrea Tardini Gallery and a group of 20-somethings bounded in, full of energy and curiosity. I asked, "Where are you from? How did you get here?" It turned out they were from Belgium, a group of friends who had come to Venice for the weekend specifically to visit Art Biennale, and were wandering around the city visiting galleries. They had just stumbled into Daniela's opening by chance --which I loved, by the way -- it's on through January 7, 2018.

For months, the thought-provoking Viva Arte Viva was the most visited exhibition in Italy, evidence that it is not only the mindless masses that come to visit Venice, but also enlightened travelers who understand that the city contains a wealth of knowledge. Christine Macel declared that "Viva Arte Viva is an exhibition inspired by humanism."

Go to Biennale for more information.

The Individual is a Mirage by Erik Beltran (section) 2010 - Photo: Cat Bauer
Meanwhile, as Art Biennale came to a close, the opening reception for the new exhibition at the V-A-C Foundation on the Zattare was on November 25. Taking its title from Shannon Ebner's installation The Electric Comma, the exhibition examines the ways in which the distinction between artificial and human intelligence is becoming less clear. From the press notes: "As the majority of our collective histories, memories and imaginations are being digitized, the effects of this on the human condition and on our planet as a whole remain underestimated."

What makes the exhibition even more interesting is that the V-A-C Foundation was founded in Moscow in 2009 by Leonid Mikhelson, said to be the world's richest Russian, and whose mission is cultural diplomacy through contemporary art. With so much uproar in the world these days over the extent to which Russia is influencing other countries, it's nice to have the opportunity to stroll over to Palazzo delle Zattare and see for oneself the image they choose to project.

Inside Diane by Valia Fetisov (2017) inspired by Twin Peaks
"Warning! If you choose to enter, your voice will be recorded, 
anonymized and published" 
Photo: Cat Bauer
V-A-C is dedicated to the development and international presentation of Russian contemporary culture, and has international ties with the New Museum in New York, the Tate galleries in the UK, and the Whitechapel Gallery in London. A version of the premiere exhibition that launched here in Venice, Space, Force Construction, is now at the Art Institute of Chicago with the new title Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test until January 15, 2018.

The current V-A-C exhibition, The Electric Comma, was developed together with KADIST, a French-American private foundation based in San Francisco and Paris, and contains works from both collections. I thought it was intriguing, and they seem to have a sense of humor.

I included the V-A-C Foundation in the "Things to DO" section of the current fall/winter issue of LUXOS Magazine entitled "Art has no passport."

The Electric Comma runs through March 31, 2018. For more information, visit the V-A-C Foundation.

Gianni Berengo Gardin - Photo: Cat Bauer
I finally had the opportunity to meet the acclaimed photographer, Gianni Berengo Gardin, at the inauguration of Gianni Berengo Gardin & Sergio Del Pero - Venise '55/'65 at the Wilmotte Foundation on Friday evening, December 1.

Berengo Gardin has been called, "the most important photographer in Italy in the latter part of the 20th century," and at age 87, is still going strong. In 2015, he caused a lot of commotion when his exhibition about the cruise ships in Venice was banned from Palazzo Ducale, only to open at Olivetti Showroom in Piazza San Marco, a building designed by the renowned architect, Carlo Scarpa, just a couple hundred meters away.

I wrote a post about the whole shebang, which you can read here:

Venice and the Cruise Ships - Blocked Gianni Berengo Gardin Exhibition Opens in Piazza San Marco


It turned out that there were a bunch of outside forces in play during that period in time, which were trying to control the narrative. Judging by some of those in attendance at the current inauguration, I don't think those outside forces have learned anything at all. 

Venise '55/'65 runs through May 18, 2018. For more information go to the Wilmotte Foundation

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. For months, the thought-provoking Viva Arte Viva was the most visited exhibition in Italy, evidence that it is not only the mindless masses that come to visit Venice, but also enlightened travelers who understand that the city contains a wealth of knowledge. Christine Macel declared that "Viva Arte Viva is an exhibition inspired by humanism."

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