55th Biennale

Lee Klein Reviews A Venetian Tour Part 3

So there and then in and out of the chambers of the arsenale; in one stretch lo and behold laid out were a whole pack of nations.   Many were represented; but, Chile and Indonesia packed a smoking one two punch (but there was a dive>>>>).....Something was going to take a dive for Chile's pavilion featured a singular work by Alfredo Jaar where the Giardini (that being a full scale model of it and all its pavilions) was timed to submerge and emerge from the murky green waters like a synchronized sea monster (if this piece was not deemed culturally or artistically significant by someone other than the curators and officios in Santiago, well it was a hell of an amusement).

Next was a huge interior stretch laid out by Indonesia.  Herein Entang Wiharso rendered multiple carved sculptures in an elaborate and dizzying array of configurations in a darkened divided gallery.  Entang presented a sumptuous feast for the eyes, including one tableaux which turned out to be portraits of Indonesian Presidents past and the incumbent.

Then the Bahamas had Tavares Strachnan, the man who upon occasion has transplanted Antarctic ice to the Island nation. The exhibition within was called polar eclipse and held its own conceptual upside down .......

Next it was down the Via Garibaldi to the fabled Giardini. Here I started in first on the very topical Russians.  Therein one Vadim Zhakarov had a duplex/triplex pavilion to work with, in , within and (on).   On the  first split level, near the entrance, at certain times therein included was a man on a saddle in full equestrian gear (including the high boots), riding an architectural crossbeam. Meanwhile once you ventured further inside and then reaching what turned into an upstairs gallery you perhaps per chance looked below (from what looked like it was where orthodox Jewish women would be relegated to in a segregated synagogue).  Then probably as a man (women had access to both areas) you most assuredly looked through the large hole and  watched as Euros were dropped into a well two stories below as possibly bemused females were given umbrellas which only sometimes they picked up (also the same could be said for the what some might consider the marginal denominations). I wanted them to let me in as to gain free money (I am still waiting for the money from the Isa Genzken German pavilion which was being handed out via the press kiosk a few biennales ago).   This scrounger desired for the art handlers to grant him entry to such an extant that much he started saying "what if pussy riot shows up are you going to let them in" ?  He then followed with ..." how could you possibly be allowed to get away with discriminating against men would anybody put up with it the other way around ?"...{and somehow a Russian republic sponsored exhibition at an international art exhibition seems like the last place or organization which should be discriminating against anybody}. Now of course if your Zeus dropping drachmas on Danae that is another story.

Meanwhile it took the English pavilion to calm this soon to be tea sipper down. Here a giant instillation by Turner prize winner, Jeremy Deller, came with hot brew with lemon served by the most polite baristas (and to whom you could complain about the Russians).   It included a tribute to William Morris in the form of a wall mural of the nineteenth century Scottish designer dumping Russian billionaire tycoon Roman Abramovich's yacht, "Luna",  into the Adriatic, visual notations in reference to Hen Harriers, the endangered birds of prey, two of which were found shot to death on the grounds of Queen Elizabeth's Sandringham estate and the only possible suspects were Prince Harry and his friend William van Cutsem (they were questioned but not charged for lack of evidence)  and a movie with steel drums being played to David Bowie's tune, "The Man Who Sold the World" (as inspired in turn by the Roman emperor who did and of course the Praetorian guard sold it in a second instance as well in the year of the five emperors).  This pavilion grew and grew on me-- it expanded upon its own vocabulary and the Bowie tune on the steel drums is hummed by me still.

Also pleasant was the United State entry of Sarah Sze mounted by the Bronx Museum of the Arts.  This pavilion structure crawling work had a sprawling outlay of materials and ingredients streaming out of itself like radii avenues from Columbus circle, but ,then moved everywhere like greater Los Angeles.  Meanwhile let us not forget other popular wonders like the completely noise and light free chamber by Kimsooja in the South Korean pavilion. 

The Italian pavilion in the Giardini once again curated by wunderkind Masssimiliano Gioni teemed with art and artists of every kind, souvenirs  of the spiritual past; Rudolf Steiner, Levi Fisher Ames, Alastair Crowley, Carl Gustave Jung; a minimalist here a minamilst there in both main exhibitions Richard Serra, Walter De  Maria (another finale), and Carl Andre , Sarah lucas of the YBA'S , and Mike Kelly. ad infinitum etceteras.  However the main thing this co-central part of the exhibition did was simple.  It goes that was that it set out to set itself up as a temporary museum, bring a whole lot of in depth work together, make it thought provoking and a fresh as possible in the climate in which we vi exist, view and interact with art. 

Later thanks to Gary Shapiro I got to sit in on an interstellar panel put together by the Cypriot concrete mogul Dakis Jouannou and observe Gioni first hand.  I found him clever, whimsical and ready to turn the thing right upside down sideways.  This many time Biennale viewing struggling correspondent is pleased that the Biennale chose this relatively young man and hope they hand the torch right back to him again (as curating is a field Gioni feels out deeply and thoroughly understands).

 the best thing about this biennale perhaps was what was gone ie the political curatorial globalism who knows what is whatjsism. Indeed this was the first truly enjoyable Biennale in years.

Until next time this glass of prosseco is for you!

.Lee Klein 2013

Another Venetian tour in three parts by Lee Klein

The 55th Biennale d'Arte di VeneziaJune 6 - November 24, 2013

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Another Venetian tour in three parts by Lee Klein

For Sir Anthony Caro the 2013 55th edition of the Venice Biennale was to be his finale, for the Maldives forecasters have predicted impending doom in the form of an over wash (and their spillover here was to be competing exhibitions), do we taste the scent of our demise as Hemingway once did fish?

Welcome to La Serenissima 2013 seventy degrees plus Fahrenheit in November in NYC the once mighty Christine Quinn was going, going, about to be gone (at least from public office) in the Piazza San Marco the Marc Quinn was gone as well.

The first part of main exhibit in the Arsenale, curated by the New York situated Italian curator and associate director of the New Museum of Contemporary art, Massimiliano Gioni offered large sections of many of the included artists work in spaces within a space redone by the architect Annabel Selldorf….But this was the “Encyclopedia of the Mind”, based on the architectural model for an impossible dream never realized by the late Italian born Pennsylvanian American resident, Marino Auriti., The aforementioned practitioner whose original piece was placed here as this exhibition's centerpiece at its entrance would if alive have seen his attempt at a mad caveat mixed in with contemporary art, instillations, curiosities and artifacts. The exhibition meanwhile meant to be frivolous (which it tended to be more so of in the Italian pavilion) as it continued here in the Arsenale was a bit heavy; especially so when it came to whole huge chambers filled with works like “The Venetians” by Pawel Althamer.

While the life masks attached to the Pole’s blue wiry metal skeletons were very effective, it became a huge monochromatic assembly, wherein one could get lost before beginning to get ahold of this whole thing. Here say marrying John Ahearn to kinetic art it might trounce the memory of more sublime efforts, though through and through it was lyrical in its moments as well (as if were any of the Venetians he had chosen some of the same Venetians you had seen on the streets and the canals of city by the sea as in you have two artistic subjects in common).

Here in the historic boat parking lot whole sections were given over to rising art world phenoms like the Vietnamese born Danish performance art influenced instillation artist, Danh Vo and Phyllidia Barlow’s hanging detritus. Specifically the British art professor who left academe to pursue her own work piece’s blended right in with the scarred walls of the Arsenale. The segue had this oft voyaging re-canter thinking of our very own Shalom Neuman.. He who has very often offered the word “Fusion” for interdisciplinary work which attempts to well seamlessly well fuse (though more aptly converge and the Italian creation Fusionisimo works wonders) but these were at a broader confluence it is very much easier at close range in a Veruschka type of way Rothko , seamless.