Venice Biennale- Art Eurovision

So the Venice Biennale! I had the great pleasure of visiting the beautiful island of Venice a few weeks ago and with everything going on at uni I still haven’t had the time to write about it! Not good enough really when I literally could not not write it. The amount of art work I saw there was insane! It really got me straight back into the world of contemporary art. During two fully packed days we explored both main sites at the Giardini and the Arsenale. The sites were huge, with two main galleries and then each country having their own pavilion gallery space on site. From around the world each country was represented by their chosen artist- hence why I’m coining the term Art Eurovision. I love Eurovision so it’s not an insult from me. I just felt whilst walking around each pavilion, I was seeing artist’s work representing their country, so it felt a bit like Eurovision but for art works. I must have seen thousands of pieces by some incredible artists. It was an exhausting few days but well worth it.

So who won Art Eurovision for me? Has to be Bill Culbert. He was representing New Zealand with his exhibition Front Door Out Back. I loved this exhibition. His work with found furniture objects really inspired me. Using found objects from the home he completely throws them out of context when he cuts through them with huge bars of industrial lighting. There was just something I really liked about the impact these objects had on me when seeing them reinvented using these lights. I really enjoyed seeing his works outside in the space, again putting those wardrobes out of context further. He seemed to be playing on the inside/outside theme referring to the title of the exhibition.

Lee Kit was another artist’s work which intrigued me. His work seemed definitely to focus on the domestic. He also played on this inside/outside notion. Watching the video explaining his work I noted down that he liked to call his installations –“settings” a term I might want to use. Jessica Jackson Hutchins again using furniture items- she had covered over them with paint they kind of looked like huge spillages onto the objects. I noted down from the caption next to her works- “often pulled from her home, they are marked by years of use.” And also- “humanity’s grandest gestures and noblest thoughts may linger, in modest form, in its living rooms.” Love these statements!

Robert Gober’s Dollhouse 4 is something I usually would really enjoy. But seeing the dolls house made me realise that it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t reaching far enough in what he was trying to say- he was touching on similar things that I’m referring to; “a blank screen onto which the viewer can project her (interest use of her here) own ghastly memories.” It just wasn’t enough though. This is something I felt I could say in a much better way. I had a similar feeling with Oliver Croy and Oliver Elser miniature houses. When I walked in the room I thought; yes, brilliant I will love this, but as much as I enjoyed the formation of the multitude of houses, again it wasn’t enough. It was also a disappointment to me to read that in fact the artists themselves didn’t make the minitures; they were a collection from a man named Peter Fritz.

I was very excited to see the name Simryn Gill when I arrived at the Australia Pavilion. I was unaware beforehand that Gill was Australian but in the past I have seen and loved her piece Dalam, 2001. I hadn’t known much about the artist before my visit here but talking to one of the gallery assistants I learnt that she in fact lived in Malaysia before marrying and Australian and therefore becoming an Australian citizen for the past 30 or so years. Gill’s work is very much about transition. It’s really interesting to me considering I’ve moved to Australia myself and this piece- Here Art Grows on Tree, gill has taken little bits of all the books shown on display in the exhibition to create a vast wall of what look like little leaves or insects. All the books she used had some relevance to transition and/or movement. Really interesting!

In the Spanish Pavilion was the work of Lara Almarcegui. There was a real awe in her work for me. Walking into the space I was greeted with huge mounds of broken materials. Seeing the mass amount of raw material, piled up in ruins like that really broke down the fragility of our treasured spaces for me. It broke down the house to just its material qualities. Almarcegui uses the terms urban decay, abandoned spaces and structures in the process of transformation to describe her work.

And lastly I want to just mention the pleasant surprise of finding the Portugal Pavilion outside, in a boat, by the sea! I loved this! And even better inside was a mass of blue textile material decorated with magical lighting so you felt like you were under the sea!


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