….This (the) main exhibition titled” Illuminations” and curated by ” Bice Curiger was especially bright went it came to the Katarina Fritsch’s work in the garden area of the arsenale (not to be confused with the Giardini where the national pavillions are in another seperate enclosure) . Here in an outdoor waterside convergence four large and in two cases life size sculptures in day glo hues converge to form a statuary tableaux with a red madonna, a green prelate, a yellow skull, and a purple egg http://universes-in-universe.org/eng/bien/venice_biennale/2011/tour/illuminations_arsenale/katharina_fritsch stop one in their tracks. (there is currently another Fritsch grouping displayed at the sculpture garden of the MOMA here in New York City)
Next it was over as alluded to the Giardini; where it is as always to see the heralded pavilions those written about and awarded and which come all loaded with arrival hype. The United States of America’s pavilion of course on course was good for some overtly ironic heraldry and gymnastics over American airlines first class seats propped into the classical pavilion and a statue of Columbia on a tanning bed. Excuse me for not thinking that this effort by the art team of Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla mounted by the Indianapolis museum of art was more about the athletic prowess of the gymnasts and the treadmill runners atop the upturned tank than the explanation art theory which employed them… How is it that our bankrupt nation came to help to pay for among other things a piece of facedown later to be right sided hardware?
Germany won the lion d’or for best pavilion showing the films of the late Christopher Christoph Schlingensief the late filmmaker. Here this viewer watched a lesbian chainsaw border crossing vampire movie and laughed with others at the gore until his belly was intermittently filled with laughs and disgust until he could take no more.
This writer eventually visited every pavilion in the Giardini and among those which stand out in his memory are the silly actor talking about Nureyev’s sexual pick up antics at the Spanish pavilion as part of a performance and more importantly Yael Bartana’s poignant retake on nationalism and fascism in a retake on inviting the Jewish Diaspora back to Poland to regain their citizenship. In this role as provocateur Bertana is the first non Polish born representative or non pole to representing Poland at the Biennale and the work is her invitation for all the dispossessed peoples of the world to follow suit with the repatriated Polish Jews as their guardians.
Then there was the Thai pavilion about an atrtist/character named Navin/Navin Rawanchaikul who stars In his own “Paradiso di Navin a Mission to Establish Navinland”, This effort was in the restaurant outside the gate of the giardini and one could get a flag and see the character photo-shopped into every scene around the world are actually there like a soft drink or international phone service commercial. Here is the website with manifesto video feed and all http://www.navinproduction.com/ next this should be done with the male whore from the Jersey Shore i.e. the situation in the Horn of Africa, the Situation in Libya, The Situation in Syria, The Situation in Mexico and so on and so forth.
After the national pavilions this guest started wandering and eventually came upon dual shows for Anselm Keifer and Emilio Vedova.
Keifer (whose exhibit at Gagosian the previous year “This year in Jerusalem I rued missing) here was continuing his salute to Kabbalistic states of of creation which keep coming at one like oncoming street or highway traffic allowing one to progress if not get runover. Presently a heavily encrusted series of silver and green verdigris dark green canvases with reliefs of ship moving towards an endpoint hanging abounds in Venice. This exhibition is called “Salt of the Earth”.
Vedova bored me but at some point I met an Italian American visitor who inquisited at my every movement and had his wife trailing behind as he attempted to gain free access for her as well.
But outside of the national pavilions what most excited this individual was seeing the new annex of the Palazzo Grassi Francois Pinault palace for art its annex building the Punta Della Dogana familiar from many a painting by Il Canal aka Canaletto its interior redone by the Japanese minimalist who loves to work in concrete, Tadao Ando…
The man in black
Against the concrete wall by Tadao Andao
in an old building the new annex of the Palazzo Grassi
housing the art collection of Francois Pinault
The man in a black suit against concrete
and inside a silver circle back against concrete
Inside one of five silver circles
Or four and quarter from the bench where I sit
The stone is perfect perfecto
The square block made of warthogs mashed together
Bisecting the round of the fifth
Then fittingly the black suited white shirted man is gone
And another black suited guard moves through
to place his back against the wall
There is the hull of the black cast of a car
The wood ceiling above
Running water the opening of a bottle
Soft shoe across the floor
Music stands with notebooks opened to gestures
and my time in this city has just begun
I lean forward into garlands of lights