Friday, 20 January 2012

Venice Biennale 2011 - Giardini

The Venice Biennale turns out to be kind of like the elephant that the boa constrictor swallowed in Le Petit Prince, just daunting to digest. So, now, after the biennale has been over for two months, I'm going to finish it and get on to the many other subjects that have been waiting.

The main thing I've been thinking it is important to mention is how much the place changes after the opening, so the reviews you read in major news and art publications assume availability that doesn't exist after the first week, and they don't see the changes that are inherent in some of the work. I've mentioned my curiosity about what would become of the half-melted-in-July works by Urs Fischer by November. I don't know, although there may be pictures on other sites. I imagine there's nothing, or just a small pile of wax. Two years ago several pavilions were closed because the tech stuff didn't work.

In the American Pavilion (Allora and Calzadilla) you saw a couple of worn out airline seats in two of the spaces. I'm not sure if the gymnasts ever performed on them any more after the opening week, but we saw a posted sign that "the performance" was scheduled for 2:15 in the afternoon. So one had to schedule seeing the American Pavilion, more like theater than art, not necessarily available for all visitors. We returned at 2:15 and saw the guy up on the tank. He turned it on and I was surprised that the treadmill started running, so it controlled his speed on it. I had somehow imagined that the runner controlled the treadmill. What I also noticed was that the sound of the tank spread throughout the Giardini, analogous to the way everything the United States does reverberates throughout the world. You could hear it from the restrooms across the grounds. I went inside the Pavilion while he was treading, but there were no people on the airline seats, so I gave up on that. They were not interesting by themselves.

It was great fun to demonstrated the organ to the other puzzled visitors. I got 50 Euros from it, with a great church-like organ sound. Others stuck their cards in to start the music, but didn't get money. Tom and I had a big argument about the music. He thought it should be musical comedy,  playing something like "You're in the money," and I thought the very serious, almost ominous Church of Money sounded about right.

What else did we like in the Pavilions? Not much. I liked the flower army camoflauge in the Korean Pavilion.

I loved Maurizio Cattalan's stuffed pigeons lined up on pipes and perching on whatever they could in the former Italian Pavilion. In my photographs they sometimes seem to share my quizzical feelings about the art below.  

It's all over now, but some of the artists will stay in memory. We've seen works of some again since the Biennale. Most of it is gone and I don't even recognize my photographs.

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