On the Vaporetto to the Giardini and the Biennale!
We were excited to attend La Biennale di Venezia. The 56th International Art Exhibition ran from May 9th to November 22nd 2015. Visiting Venice years ago, we had strolled through the Giardini, looked at empty buildings that every two years are filled with art and vowed to return. Each country that participates in the Biennale has it’s own building to fill or we discovered – to barely fill – with representative art of their country. The exhibition takes place not only at the Giardini but also the Arsenale and in various locations across the city of Venice.
Curated by Okwui Enwezor, this year’s event got a scathing review in Art News. Not to be put off by one person’s point of view and because we never do what we are told, Jack and I booked our train tickets and headed to Venice.
Our Cittidini Anziani – old people – tickets cost of €20 and were good for exploring both artsy sites – Giardini and the Arsenale. The space is open and easy to navigate. We strolled from pavilion to pavilion. It was incredibly interesting to see the stylistic differences between artists and the types of art that were chosen by each country. It was also interesting to look around and note that probably most of the 501,502 visitors and over 8,000 journalists that the exhibit attracted were our age.
One exhibit that the arts administrator in me found really enlightening was a giant space featuring blow ups of audience surveys from famous museums. The surveys went back to the 1800s and asked many of the same demographic questions that we ask today. Current exhibition viewers could sit with an iPad and take the Biennale survey. As I did that, my answers immediately changed the results by 1 and were projected. Most of the visitors to the Biennale have an advanced degree! That bothered me – was it because only people with advanced degrees can afford to go to Venice? There were young people interspersed among the baby boomers – were they all in graduate programs? Hmmmm.
Jack and I love to go to museums and galleries. We appreciate art of all types and eras. That said – oh you know what is coming – she is going to say something bitchy about someone. Who picks the American Artist? I won’t say her name because she might be someone I got drunk with in the 60’s – actually her art reminded me of the crap some of my friends handed in to their art teachers in the 60’s. The exterior of the American Pavillon could use a touch of paint and maintenance. We entered through a side door held open by a fire extinguisher – charming. The darkened interior sported a variety of screens all featuring the same film. Two young girls dressed like Isadora Duncan’s Isadorables scampered about, beat on a wooden log with sticks and generally didn’t do anything interesting. Hung on the walls were props from the films, repeated repeated repeated prints and – oh I really can’t even talk about it. With all the artists in the United States WHY THIS STUFF?
I did a little research and figured it out! The artist teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and guess who curated the American Pavillon? Good guess – MIT!!!! They must have a “sacco di soldi” or access to the big list of sponsors that put up the cash for this trash. Oops – I didn’t mean to make a disparaging comment.
Here’s a short video of just some of the exhibition halls we visited. We intend to go again. We had a great time – even if we did snicker at some of the art. Enjoy.