It took me about 15 years to visit the Biennale Arte in Venezia, I am not sure how this happened, but so it is. VivaArteViva has been my first one.
The immediate thought I had after entering the Arsenale is that yes, resonance and wonder are what lead my visits to exhibitions.
And wonder is what took over right after passing the first part of the Pavilion of the Common, when I faced Maria Lai and Lee Mingwei and their intertwined wowed narratives. To sew, to weave, to spin are activities that in a pretty simple way evocate collective (common) practices and therefore cultures (as collection of practices and knowledge). But the wonder is given by the works, not only the metaphor. While Maria Lai is represented through pictures of her performances, and among others with the mesmerizing works Geografia e Storia Universale, on the right Lee Mingwei is there in person collecting pieces of clothing brought by the visitors and talks with them about the stories of the clothes. Behind him two walls with bobbins and a fantastic net of spread nets. Sbam.
Then through the Pavilion of the Earth, where one of the few works I had already chosen as favourite beforehand was: Michel Blazy’s. Again, so easy in its message but yet so powerful in the realization. Interrupting the visit since it is in the middle of the hall, a showcase of rotten shoes transformed into flower pots is presented to your eyes. In the darkness of the Arsenale, the neon lights of this shop window invite the visitor to not only walk around the work (which is necessary, as it is an obstacle), but also to investigate closely the status of the plants (some were dead, by September) wondering how many other plants we are forcing into unnatural growth. Julian Charrière’s Future Fossils with its huge doric columns with mounted lithium is the perfect companion to Blazy.
Further on, in the Pavilion of Tradition, it has been Sopheap Pich who caught my eye: the striking contrast between his slow, analogic and traditional method of production (rolling and pressing a stick of bamboo colored with natural pigment on watercolour paper) and the graphic result of the work, a digital representation of sound. Brilliant.
I loved playing in the Pavilion of Time and Infinity with the works of Liu Jianhua and Alicja Kwade, because they complemented themselves so well, occupying the whole surface of the last space of the Arsenale in the darkness with the fluidity of porcelain of Jianhua crystallized in big golden drops forever mirrored and replicated by Kwade’s installation.
From the Giardini, I only take a few impressions with me, and Taus Makhacheva’s Tightrope. Museums politics and their always intentional choices about what to display and when to do it, forgotten art in museums storages are the topic but it is a dance: in the artist’s video several artworks are moved from one peak to another on a rope, an action that can be only performed by those who can really dare to defeat real or metaphoric borders and dangers: tightrope walkers.
Iconographic references of almost all above mentioned works and a few more here and here. All pictures are mine, ça va sans dire.