VENICE 2011: THE 54th INTERNATIONAL ART EXHIBTION
Since some of our master students are in venice to see the biennial this next week and I wouldnt come because Ive been there in the late summer, this is a very brief summary of some of my central impressions:
The titel of the 54th art biennial ILLUMInazioni obviously refers to both light and nation which curator Bice Curiger probably applies most evidently in the Central Pavilion. And that is where I started my tour: With the Giardini, so the Central Pavillion and the countries Pavillions.
The Central Pavillion shows an exhibition featuring artists such as Maurizio Cattelan, Philippe Parreno, Sigmar Polke, Seth Price, Monika Sosnowska and Cyprien Gaillard (who recently and unsurprisingly won the Preis der Nationalgalerie). Among the group exibition three paintings of the venetian and renaissance painter Jacopo Tintoretto were shown. Tintoretto was student of Tizian and is well known for his outstandig execution of light. Showing historical paintings like Tintorettos among a selection of young works if contentwise self-evident can be of great value for a contemporary art exhibition, in my eyes. Put into a more extensive context like that, contemporary art works will always be eyed in a different and maybe more critical manner concerning craft and interpretability since such a situation inevitably implies the question of the art term in comparative regards.
The countries Pavillions: I was indeed deeply moved by Christoph Schlingensiefs Eine Kirche der Angst vor dem Fremden in mir (A church of fear of the foreigner in me) from 2008, presented in the German Pavillion. Although Schlingensief himself did not plan to show this installation for the biennial and so neither the final decision nor the actual installation was done on his own behalf the aim of the work did not seem to experience any disprofit. Eine Kirche der Angst vor dem Fremden in mir is most privately dealing with the artist suffering of lung cancer. The funeral ceremony alike stage-installation empathises with the replica of the apsis of the oberhausen church in which Schlingensief was altar server when he was a boy. A video shows him as a boy playing a dying cowboy, the artist voice-over is saying “Nicht berühren, bitte nicht berühren, jetzt” - “Don`t touch me, please don`t touch me, now”. The workes grievous emotionality together with its spacial dimension felt like it was of great honesty in its handling with the most basic human values and fears. Christoph Schlingensief was one of the radical revolutionarys of german film and especially theatre. He died of cancer in august 2010.
Albeit the natural and constant pressure to get the greatest amount of input possible, moving within the Giardini felt like promenading, like a downtime. That (in its best sense) in-between vacuity provided the ability to conclude ones on-site deliberation on one complex of thoughts on the one hand and on the other hand allow room for further gathering in a second step.
Christian Marclays work The Clock displayed another becalming instant. The Clock is a 24 hour long film composed of sequences from existing movies interacting with the current time of the day. Placed at the vertex of the corridor-like and L-shaped Arsenale venue the work was presented in a darkened space providing sofas. Through the ability to comfortably rest whilst watching the video art work The Clock does not only constitute a highlight in content but also a climax within the dramaturgy of the Arsenale.
I want to end that very brief insight in my views on the Venice art biennial with the young Jackson Pollock painting Eyes in the Heat that I saw at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and that seems to enduringly intrigue me as both obviously logic in Pollocks work and outstandingly beautifully manual and fleshy on the other hand. With its bodacious liveliness despite the retentive structuralism the work does seem to not only be an icon of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection but also of the swirl Venice appears to go under during the Biennial, every second year.