It’s a beautiful, nay, glorious day here in London. It’s hot. As in SUNNY. You know, Properly Warm. And SUNNY, did I mention that? And so what have we done?
|This isn't London. Obviously.|
Never mind joining the millions of desperate Londoners in Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath and Primrose Hill and every other green, outdoor space devoid of shade and access to the fridge.
It’s totally controversial, but we stayed at home. Albeit with the curtains and windows flung open and with a big fat jug of Pimms and a big fat bowl of homemade guacamole. But yes, we decided a day at home was the best way to spend the hottest day of the year so far.
And I don’t regret it for a second.
Beyond napping on the sofa with the sun on my legs and pulling out all my beads and their bits and pieces to fix a necklace and make a new one, I tinkered with and finally sent off my 1000-word review of the Biennale for my favourite Australian art magazine, Artlink.
In a rare case of organisation, I had the first draft finished a couple of days ago. Which meant I’ve since had a couple of days to edit, re-edit and generally finesse my rambling interpretation of the behemoth that is Venice. And today I sent if off.
Which means today I can, with a clear conscious, finally reflect here on some of my favourite biennale moments. I’m not going to regurgitate my review (buy the September issue and read it there, yeah?) so this is more of a pictorial reflection, which, let’s be honest, it’s probably more what you’d prefer, non?
But I will say this, experiencing the biennale is a visually sodden, brain-frying, enlivening exercise, when it’s not leaving you exasperated and confused.
Wandering along canals, through back alleyways of non-tourist Venice in search of off-site pavilions, exclaiming after 40 minutes of wrong turns, “God, Where the fuck is Angola?!” and then, “Oh! Montenegro – we should wander through while we’re here” followed by, “Hmm – Iraq, let’s go there after Ireland?” well there’s something quite absurdly brilliant about it. Never mind the Giardini where you chuck a right at the USA, wander past Israel and head straight on for Finland, all while wandering through the leafy, beautiful garden.
Australia, well, Australia is literally in the outback, as in outback behind the Czech Republic in a building that reminds me of my grade three demountable classroom.
|Australia - literally, outback...|
It’s an unfortunate consequence of latent imperialist politics and bad 80s architecture. It’s going to be demolished come November and rebuilt and it can’t come fast enough.
But enough of that: my lazily curated Venice Biennale 2013 highlights. In no particular order…
ANGOLA OFF-SITE PAVILION: EDSON CHAGAS, Found not Taken
BELGIUM PAVILION: BERLINDE DE BRUYCKERE, Cripplewood
IRELAND OFF-SITE PAVILION: RICHARD MOSSE, The Enclave
ARSENALE: CHILE PAVILION: ALFREDO JAAR, Venezia, Venezia
ARSENALE: REPUBLIC OF KOSOVO PAVILION: PETRIT HALILAJ
NEW ZEALAND PAVILION: BILL CULBERT, Front Door Out Back
CENTRAL PAVILION: OLIVER CROY & OLIVER ELSER, The 387 Houses of Peter Fritz (1916-1992), Insurance Clerk from Vienna, 1993-2008
PALESTINE OFF-SITE PAVILION: BAHIR MAKHOUL & AISSA DEEBI, Otherwise Occupied
ARSENALE: PHYLLIS GALEMBO
ROMANIA PAVILION: ALEXANDRA PIRICI & MANUEL PELMUS, An Immaterial Retrospective of the Venice Biennale: "Sophie Calle, Take Care of Yourself, 2007"
RUSSIA PAVILION: VADIM ZAKHAROV, Danae
CENTRAL PAVILION: SHINRO OHTAKE, Scrapbooks #1-66, 1977-2012
REPUBLIC OF SLOVENIA OFF-SITE PAVILION: JASMINA CIBIC, For Our Economy and Culture
ARSENALE: SOUTH AFRICA PAVILION: WIM BOTHA, Generic Self-Portrait as an Exile, 2008
Like I said a million pictures ago, these are in no particular order and there are countless other works and pavilions that caused me to pause and contemplate and/or scratch my head and/or delight in their visual confidence. It was an extraordinary couple of days.
As for Venice, well, it was heaving with hoards of Chinese tourists and spectacularly sunny and reliably beautiful. And the bellinis weren’t bad either.