Thursday, May 18, 2017

Art World Jolts Venice - Viva Arte Viva! Biennale 2017

Korean Pavilion - Venice Biennale - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) When the World of Art arrives in Venice for Biennale's International Festival of Art every two years, it jolts the system with creative energy. During the opening press conference, President Paolo Baratta said that Biennale wanted the trust of the world "for the work that we do," and to induce the desire for art and architecture in the general public.

Baratta said that we are complex creatures, and that art can restore human beings. Through art we can find out about us. There is a silent battle the World of Art carries on with courage, not indulging in banalities or in ordinary life. It is an examination of the human condition.

If there is a crisis, it is in our minds. The drama is already here, and we should not fall into the trap of over-simplification. We ask artists to help us rejoin our selves with ourselves. Being human means accepting the complexity and dealing with it. We cannot be reduced to a single reality, and must reconcile ourselves to a complex reality. There is a tendency to over-simplify the world; the modern world is a complex thing we must understand.

Everything is being reduced to very few truths and very few words. We are being asked to reduce ourselves to symbols. If you deny complexity you will fall into frustration and inaction.

Baratta said that visiting the Biennale can change one's perspective on life, art, and what you think about human beings.

Ernesto Neto, Um Sagrado Lugar (A Sacred Place) Photo: Cat Bauer
Curator Christine Macel said that art has been her passion, if not obsession, forever. It is important to put the voice of the artist in the center. She embraces the artist's right to ozio, or free time -- the right to do nothing at all, the moment in which you are yourself, creating.

Much has been written about the 57th Venice Art Biennale; here's a review I like by Laura Cumming at The Guardian:

"The main international exhibition, curated by Christine Macel, director of the Pompidou Centre, steers clear of the political propaganda that dominated the last Biennale; indeed you could be forgiven for thinking it’s all rather comfortable and picturesque. Artists hang about, making music, chatting, sleeping (real and depicted beds predominate). There are tapestries, embroideries and quilted hangings everywhere; you can stitch mementoes into David Medalla’s sail or run your fingers through cascading gold mesh. So many threads can only lead straight to Ernesto Neto, another Biennale fixture, and sure enough here is another of his voluminous dangling nets. Inside sit actual members of the Brazilian rainforest tribe to which his installation is dedicated. This shocks somewhat – art as ethnographic zoo?"

Laboratory of Dilemmas - Photo: Neon
My favorite pavilion was the Greek Pavilion, and George Drivas' Laboratory of Dilemmas, a winding dark labyrinth with bits and pieces of sound installations and video clips along the way that eventually leads to the main show, a riveting video starring the fabulous Charlotte Rampling. Drivas was inspired by a piece of classical Greek theater, The Suppliants by Aeschylus (c. 470 BC), which posed the dilemma: Do we save the Foreigner or maintain the safety of the Native? And if you're thinking, Oh, not another refugee crisis installation, it is absolutely not that.

Freesa from the Tunisian Pavilion - Photo: Cat Bauer
I became surprisingly emotional after standing in line at the kiosk and applying to receive my Freesa during The Absence of Paths at the Tunisian Pavilion. A Freesa is a Universal Travel Document that allows me to go anywhere I want on the entire planet. It's Tunisia's first appearance at the Biennale since 1958; they are also issuing Freesas at Marco Polo Airport.

The document opens with a poem by Maulana Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet, Muslim and Sufi mystic whose influence "transcended national borders and ethnic divisions," and whose wise words written 1000 years ago sums up the 57th Venice Biennale International Festival of Art:
Whoever Brought Me Here

All day I think about it, then
at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what
am I supposed to be doing?

My soul is from elsewhere,
I'm sure of that, and I intend to
end up there.
This drunkenness began in some
other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I'll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I'm like a bird from anther
continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
but who is it now in my ear who
hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?
Who looks out with my eyes?
What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an
answer, I could break out of this
prison for drunks.

I didn't come here of my own accord,
and I can't leve that way.
Whoever brought me here, will have
to take me home.

Maulana Rumi
(1207-1273)
Go to La Biennale for more information.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. When the World of Art arrives in Venice for Biennale's International Festival of Art every two years, it jolts the system with creative energy. During the opening press conference, President Paolo Baratta said that Biennale wanted the trust of the world "for the work that we do," and to induce the desire for art and architecture in the general public.

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