Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Glasstress II Murano

The second part of Glasstress on Murano is in a larger, somewhat more flexible but very rough space, a former glass factory. Javier Perez's Carroña [Carrion], a shattered blood red chandelier on the floor beset by stuffed black crows, conjures various aspects of death. in photographs the shards of glass look like spilled blood. I wonder if the near homophone titles of this and his Corona at the Palazzo Franchetti associate them with their surreal references to mortality and pain. The Fred Wilson on Murano is another of his Iago's Mirror series, a beautifully designed layered black mirror in 18th-century Venetian style. It would have fit seamlessly into the Istituto palace and here stands out high on a rough wall.

Tomas Libertiny The Seed of Narcissus
Thomas Libertiny's The Seed of Narcissus is a glass shape covered with honeycomb; a video in the same space documents the bees at work. I wonder how he got the bees to make this, and why he wanted them to.

Marta Klonowska reproduces in prickly glass the animals in Old Master Paintings. Resting atop one of the kilns is Il Miracolo della reliquia della Santa Croce after Vittore Carpaccio, the dog from the Carpaccio painting of a Miracle of the Holy Cross, This adorable dog seems completely independent of the painting's subject.

Marta Klonowska, Il Miracolo dalla reliquia della Santa Croce after Vittore Carpaccio
Antonio Riello's Ashes to Ashes almost disappeared on the rough wall where it was installed, but like many of the works in this exhibition it caused me to think about death, this time the death of loved or important books, absence, and using one thing to stand for another. He actually burned books to make this installation and I noted a few that meant something to me: Le Petit Prince, Madame Bovary, and The Name of the Rose.

Antonio Riello, Ashes to Ashes

Pharrell Williams's Inside Out consists of two skeletons, one winged, and the other not, floating in a dark space. The rapper has chosen a pretty common subject for his contribution to the show, but skeletons are always interesting and they reinforce the unstated theme of the exhibition.
Ursula von Rydingsvard's work is both a surprise and consistent with her channeled wood sculptures. The 2009 work is titled Glass Corrugated, and is a lovely gold color.
Hidden in an upper room that we almost missed was Hitoshi Kuriyama's Life-Reduction, constructed of broken flourescent bulbs, again suggesting aspects of death. Tom informed me after we left it that broken flourescent bulbs emit mercury, which is dangerous.

Also in an outside area I found No Kick, No Touch, a broken glass full size soccer/football goal net by Mauro Bonaventura, a Murano glass artist who specializes in spidery orbs and other shapes.

Through writing about the works that interested me here, I've discovered that most of them make reference to death, breakage, and absence. No doubt this has more to do with my own choices than with the exhibition's curatorial choices, since the curator's stated theme is "the complex relationship that ties art, design and architecture together, reviving critical issues...[like] what makes...a work of art? To respond to the spirit of the time, must a work refer only to itself? Can we say today that the function of a design object is itself enough to make the work alien to the spirit of the time regardless of its formal qualities?" These questions of course, have almost nothing to do with the objects in the show and frankly, have little interest for me in the context of an exhibition. What the works do demonstrate, as Glasstress has indicated is a mission, is that glass can contribute powerfully to the content of works of art simply by virtue of its qualities as a medium.

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