I got married at the end of August and to my delight the Venice Biennale was still on during our honeymoon. Before we went I caught the culture show’s coverage of it – which is uploaded to youtube here & here in two parts.
We were only there for a few days so we didn’t make it all the way over to the Giardini delle Biennale near Arsenale but, as my new husband is a street photographer, we did walk pretty much everywhere else. We caught many of the periphery pavilions and exhibitions. Unlike here, except for a few places, mostly they allowed photos to be taken so here is my rundown…
We were staying near Campo S. Stefano so we’ll start with the Azerbaijan pavilion.
Azerbaijan. The national pavilion presented Ornamentation, an exhibition commissioned by a foundation headed by Azerbaijan’s First Lady, Mehriban Aliyeva and curated by Herve Mikaeloff. I saw the installation in Palazzo Lezze, Campo S. Stefano, which is adorned with traditional, decorative patterns across the walls, lamps, tvs, furniture etc.
Ukrainian national pavilion featured the The Monument to a Monument show by artists of the younger generation, Mykola Ridnyj, Hamlet Zinkovskyi and Zhanna Kadyrova. I thought it was somewhere near Campo S. Stefano too but this site reckons this was at Palazzo Loredan.
The Ukrainians displayed sculptures and drawings (a wall full of match boxes with tiny portraits sketched inside them which Mike is regarding in the photo below), installations (a video camera with a beam of light made of concrete), and videos filling rooms with glimpses of Ukraine’s turbulent recent years, with the destruction of the utopia of the past and history manipulation as some of the motifs. The drawings and tiny matchbox portraits stole this one for me.
The next one we saw was Richard Mosse‘s The Enclave at the Irish-via-the-Congo pavilion. His exhibition features photos & videos of rebel-filled forests made using military surveillance film that turns the world psychedelic colours. The first room of giant scale photographs were a beautiful counterpoint to the traumatising videos in the next room. I picked up a leaflet for this one, in my paper note book for reference, with the curators statement – here is a quote:
Death is plainly observed by the ca,era, which pans over twisted bodies lying on the side of the road, already bootless, looted by passersby.
Not really honeymoon material but powerful nonetheless.
Here is a video;
Some of the Collateral Exhibitions were, as far as I could work out, unaffiliated with a national pavilion. Culture Mind Becoming is one such, although filled with Chinese artists. It was spread over two locations, we managed to visit both, Palazzo Marcello, San MArco and Palazzo Mora, Cannaregio. The first, featured work from Fang Lijun – A Cautionary Tale.
Some I really liked such as the one pictured above but I wasn’t so keen on the gruesome disease series pictured below and the ones with all the many many babies in them.
I really liked seeing these exhibitions in such unusual settings, usually art gallery spaces are very modern and austere but throughout these exhibitions the backdrop of these old Palazzos was rather refreshing. Quite often they had the patio doors & windows open so we could lean out for some sneaky photos of views venice while we were there. I’ll be blogging my main photos over on my personal blog at some point.
Xu Bing – Phoenix: The Interior of Urbanization. Made from 3D printed animation.
Ye Yongqing: Painting a Bird, above. See the detail shot below.
Hua Qing: Destiny – The 12 Zodiac Animals. 12 silkscreen prints.
Zhou Chunya: Peach Blossoms Series – Flower Blooms, Flower Fades, Year after Year.
Down the centre of the exhibition was this huge model pagoda on its side. When you walked past it sections from within would glow different colours.
I liked this: Still Life No. 1, Huang Hsin-Chien, 5 pieces made from Lucite with eroded stainless steel embodiments. Each piece was so delicate.
Fan Angel: Secret Garden – No.2.
Zhang Kai: The beauty in my heart. According to this site this painting was sold in 2012 by Triumph Art Space for RMB 200,000 (approx. USD 31,900).
Next up is New Zealand – with Bill Culbert’s Front Door Out Back. This was one of my favourites that we visited, see my paper notebook for the map of the installation.
Walk Reflection 2001/2013 – this one one of a pair of light skewered wardrobes, the other being called Walk blue:
Daylight Flotsam Venice 2013:
Level 2013: This is a clever piece positioned to reflect whatever passes the doorway on the canal
HUT, Made in Christchurch 2012:
Where are the other two? 2013
Here are a couple of youtube videos about the exhibition:
In an adjacent exhibition, Rhapsody in Green, we saw the most meticulously painted green fields I’ve ever seen.
Huang Ming – Chang: Paddy in Autumn.
Huang Ming – Chang: Paddies in the Wind 2.
Not just paintings though, This is made from painted iron & steel wool.
Kao Tsan – Hsing: Mid-Summer Night.
One that both my Husband and I really enjoyed seeing was Ai Weiwei’s Disposition. On April 3, 2011, Ai was secretly detained by the police for 81 days at the Beijing Capital International Airport while on his way to board a flight to Hong Kong. He was released on bail on June 22, 2011 upon fabricated tax charges. Although the bail was lifted after a year, the authorities have not returned his passport and he remains prohibited from travelling outside China.
Installed inside a church (Salizada S. Antonin), Disposition is a set of 6 dioramas set inside large metal containers from Ai Weiwei’s 81 days in prison. There are viewing windows in the top and from the sides so you can see in. Its claustrophobic and disturbing and this is entirely the point. Here is the blurb that was printed at the entrance:
The top viewing windows were jammed open with a little plastic cover – these mush have been added afterwards because I remember in the culture show (above), them commenting on the nice prison clang they made when opening and closing the hatch. In one way this plastic cover took away from the experience of interacting with the show because a) you couldn’t hear that clang, and b) the plastic made it hard to see through the reflections caused by a bright church. In another way though, it enhanced it, the reflections were reflecting the church onto the scene – and there was a reason why he put this into a church in the first place.
You can watch an interview with Ai Weiwei here:
Another one nearby our hotel, just off Campo S. Stefano is Ink Brush Heart: Xi Shuang Ban Na. Artists Simon Ma & Julian Lennon show off a range of sculpture & paintings.
In the foyer we are met by a paint-splattered winged fibreglass horse-creature by Simon Ma entitled Lighterning.
The rest of the large sculpture pieces are outside in a cool sort of crumbing courtyard.
At the end of the courtyard is an enclosed bit with inflated plastic versions of the teardrop shape with different colour liquids in the bottom. There was one guy polishing them and another guy getting ready to inflate some more. Could it be that they need to inflate and fill these every day?
Up on the first floor landing are some pictures by Julian Lennon. They are listed as Archival Giclée Print + Ink. The print is inside a plastic box and the ink is painted on the outside. They are hung in front of lights to show off the shadow caused by the dual surface.
Taken + Wind 2013:
Blaze + Phoenix 2013:
Silver Linings + Lost Feather 2013:
Aurora + Duet 2013:
Homeland + Return 2013:
The Palazzo Pisani is really a lovely building. Up one more flight of stairs for the rest of the exhibition.
- Peacock Dance, 2013. Rice paper & Ink.
- Embrace, 2013. 18k White Gold, Copper Alloy, Malachite, Emerald, Garnet, Yellow Diamond, Sapphire & Mother of Pearl
Simon Ma: Harmony, 2013. 18k White Gold, Copper Alloy, Malachite, Green Abalone & Blue Chalcedony
Simon Ma: Black Shadow, 2013. Rice paper & Ink.
There was some blurb about the artists collaboration too…
Down yet another random backstreet we found Palzzo Falier which houses the Pedro Cabrita Reis exhibition A Remote Whisper. Up several flights of stairs inside I wasn’t sure what to expect but this is what I found…
Click on the images below to open the gallery:
Here is a video interview with the Artist and Curator (watch larger on Vimeo here):
By this point in the blog post you might be getting a bit arted-out, however, I’d urge you check out these links which explain a little more about this extraordinary installation.
I ended my trip around the Biennale on a little bit of a disappointment. I just couldnt get into the work in the Scottish Pavilion. After all the amazing art I’d seen, little trays with water in them and half finished mosaics weren’t really worth the 2 or 3 flights of stairs up to see them.
In fact the view out of the window here held my attention for longer… sorry chaps.
One exhibition that wasn’t part of the Biennale that I really enjoyed was in a shop on San Macro square, Impossible Venice by L De Luigi. Reminded me of Dali I think, which is probably why I liked it.