I feel very fortunate to have been able to attend both the 2007 and 2009 Venice Biennales. Both trips to Venice were made Alessandra style: insane all day art extravaganzas guaranteed to result in major art hangovers the next day. (PLEASE NOTE: I DO NOT RECOMMEND TRYING TO SEE THE ENTIRE BIENNALE IN ONE DAY.)
Because of the time restraint, most of my focus was on the exhibitions in the Arsenale and the Italian pavillions. I was very excited about the potential in the theme of the main exhibition: “Making Worlds”. However, I did not feel that a new world was created at all, or that the issue was addressed of what role the artist played in the creation of that new world. It didn’t seem like the curator had much of a voice or a hand in any aspect of the exhibition. Many of the installations were in desperate need of editing and a purpose. And there seemed to be little to no dialogue between pieces or between pieces and the surrounding space/architecture/Venice. Many of the pieces felt irritatingly familiar and predictable, and the show felt like an extremely narrow representation of the art world. There were a handful of pieces that stood out:
My favorite being: Chun Yun’s piece entitled Constellation no. 3. A constellation created by the little glowing lights of all the appliances and gizmos and gadgets plugged in in a darkened room.
Visiting this most recent exhibition made me realize, and truly appreciate, the genius curating of Robert Storr in the 2007 Venice Biennale entitled “Feel With The Mind, Think With The Senses”. It was a curatorial masterpiece. An incredibly subtle, quiet exhibition with a huge long-lasting and deeply-moving impact. Storr took on the big issues, the major problems people are facing all over the world. It was not an exhibition about war, it was not a protest, it did not preach. The work instead instilled in the viewer a sense of vulnerability. The exhibition challenged us to look closer, to question what we were looking at, surprising us with a very different revelation from what was expected. The work dealt with the effects of war. And most inspirationally of all, the way that art can exist in the midst of and in despite of war. The work was from all over the world, created by people on all sides of war, with different experiences of conflict/restriction. But it so elegantly created a strong, uniform and optimistic voice. The exhibition was EXPERIENCE, created by all of the artwork in it and activated by my presence as a viewer within it.
Unfortunately, I am not inspired by the 2009 Venice Biennale, but it has renewed in me my passion to create the quality of work I wish to exist in the art world.