Sunday, November 1, 2009

Venice Biennale

This was my first visit to a Biennale in Venice, although I had visited the city several times before. There were four artists work that I particularly wanted to see and thereafter I was happy to browse and see what I chanced upon.
I have been looking at the work of Goshka Macuga at the whitechapel Gallery and so wated to see the piece that she has in Venice. Plus Ultra is a classic piece Macuga's of politically driven work. Depicting the members of the G20 smiling down on the rest of the world it takes the form of a gigantic banner wrapping itself around the pillars of the Arsenale as if they were the Pillars of Hercules and it is about to bring the whole world crashing down around itself. Very powerful, moving, piece. Tteia I,C by Lygia Pape represents her ambitious work on three-dimensionality. These square forms of carefully lit gold thread are said to represent cosmic immateriality. Certainly as you move around this huge piece the visible areas change, with some sections appearing to hover unattached in mid-air. Delicate yet powerful this was perhaps the piece that I most wanted to see and I was not disappointed.
Tomas Saraceno was another artist who's work I wanted to see, again it is three dimensional lace by any other name and again I was not disappointed. Galaxies Forming along Filaments, like Droplets along the Strands of a Spider's Web may not have been the most succinct title in the Biennale but it was certainly descriptive of the work. One of the highlights of this piece was the way that people were interacting with it, it was possible to walk around the edge of it to the next room but most people chose to work their way through the piece, occasionally catching the elastic cords and causing a ripple of movement through the work.
An unexpected delight for me came when examining my photos and discovering that the black covered cord was in some way reflective. I rarely use the flash on my camera, and often find other people's flashes distracting, but before leaving this gallery I had taken a few photos using flash and found that it had bounced off the cord giving a totally different impression of the piece - almost eerie.
I looked at the work of Tim Noble and Sue Webster at the start of my MA and this was the first chance that I'd had to see their work in the flesh. The incoherent pile of pieces of scrap metal on the floor of this semi-derelict building gave absolutely no clue as to what they would reveal when correctly lit. Fornicating Rats seemed oddly appropriate to the state of the building which must surely have seen its fair share of uninvited small furry inhabitants.
In the same building I was delighted to come across the work of Jamie Shovlin. Notorious for his ficticious archives; Naomi V Jelish, Shovlin is again working with ideas linked to archives. The framed pictures on the walls appear to be press cuttings of various world leaders.
Closer inspection reveals them to be pencil studies of press cuttings that show the quality of his traditional artistic skills as well as the playfulness of his manipulation of his audiences perceptions. A detail of 40th Incumbent is shown right.
Amongst the other works that I was particularly taken with were Library by Woojung Chung.

Moon Dust (Apollo 17) by Spencer Finch at the Arsenale.

In Ethics in Dust Jorge Otero-Pailos has used latex to clean one of the walls of the Doge's Palace. In doing so it becomes a repository of the pollutions and degradation that has affected the exterior of the building over the centuries.

The reverse of the work shows how detailed this information can be.
Kukulkan by Guatemalan Dario Escobar, also at the Arsenale.
Although Maria Grazia Rosin's work is primarily about her glass I was fascinated by the video projection, Buco d'aqua, that was part of her installation.

I found Pascale Marthine Tayou's installation rather hard going, due to being somewhat under the weather, but thought the video projections onto a disgorged out-falling of rubbish were absolutely stunning

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