[pictured, me and Carole Feuerman's "Survival of Serena"] I had an absolutely amazing day viewing contemporary art at La Biennale di Venezia, Venice's 52nd international art exhibition. I spent seven hours walking through the arsenale (dockyard) and giardini della biennale (Biennale gardens) viewing paintings, sculptures, and multimedia installations. It was overwhelming. I could have spent days exploring each country's pavilion (in the gardens, different countries have their own buildings to display the works of artists they are sponsoring).
Let's see if I can run through some of the pieces that entertained, inspired, or just plain moved my heart and mind. Upon entering the arsenale and the Italian Pavilion within the giardini, you can see chalk drawings covering a hallway's walls and ceilings. Romanian artist Dan Perjovschi's cartoons had me laughing out loud with his sharp commentary on politics and culture. (I'm trying to link to as many artists as I can find online, check out their sites for samples of their work. Also, check out the Biennale Flickr pool for hundreds of photos of the exhibition)
As I made my way in, I enjoyed the work of Leon Ferrari. He created chaotic blueprint style drawings of building layouts where rooms are filled with hundreds of people, cars are impossibly parked in hallways, and urinals line the walls of conference rooms. It's the type of piece you can stare at for a long time, have a laugh, and let your imagination run wild in it.
Emily Prince created a war memorial to American soldiers killed in Iraq. Over 3,000 palm-sized cards start to create a mosaic on the wall. She's drawn portraits of each soldier, stating their name and date of death. Of course, it's a work in progress. Seeing human loss represented on a large scale makes the numbers hit you a little harder. The exhibit notes that the loss does not include the thousands and thousands of Iraqis lost in the conflict.
In a section with a focus on Africa, Moroccan artist, Mounir Fatmi, presented "Save Manhattan 03". About 100 stereo speakers were arranged in piles. A spotlight was cast upon them and the shadow created the Manhattan skyline on the wall. The speakers blared out sounds of the cityscape. Clever stuff. On his website, there's a photo of Save Manhattan 1 where books create the skyline, complete with two large copies of the Koran creating the twin towers.
If I had heard about Yang Zhenzhong's video installation, "I will die", before my round the world trip, I would have stolen the idea. The artist traveled around the world and shot brief videos of people saying "I will die" in their own language. It was so simple but sent my mind racing with possibilities. I could have approached people and asked them to create some sort of video message. What a way to capture the similarities and differences of the people I've encountered. Next time maybe. I uploaded a sample of the video installation on youtube:
Finally, just as I was getting ready to leave the Espana pavilion, I stopped into an installation by Jose Luis Guerin called "Los mujeres que no conocemos" or Women we don't know. Guerin basically followed female strangers around and photographed them. Yes, sounds creepy and voyeuristic but I connected with it because I do the same sort of thing. [See someone else's footage of the show on YouTube]
When the figure disappears an environment appears... a flow of life which evokes the woman who disappeared.
I've followed girls as I'm wandering the streets until they go off in a different direction. I've experienced this newly created environment, feeling the wake of beauty that's zoomed away.
It's crazy late in Venice and I have to catch my first sleeper train to Rome in an hour so I must run. See ya!