Monday, July 17, 2017

Day 10: Venice

Day 10: Venice

From the Russian Pavilion, all in English

Weather: Very nice in morning (many of our group eat breakfast outside on the deck overlooking the canal), growing hotter as the day moves along, great in evening for our outside dining adventure mit fireworks (one of our tour members complained about the high winds at the front of the building...we were sitting back maybe 20 to 30 feet and didn't notice it near as much)

Quote of the Day: Conceptual art: work such that no one knows what is going on

There are shows around town not part of Biennale

THB and DB sleep in (and not because the fitness center doesn’t open until 10am). 

Department of Clarification: The fitness center is right above another real hotel room so the hotel doesn't want anyone jumping up and down before 10am. And, for same reason, closes in the evening. That means THB realistically only can work out in the gym in the late afternoon. HAH! THB has no realistic chance of working out in the later afternoon after a long hard day chasing art...none!

Okay sports fans: the best breakfast of the trip is at the Centurion Palace, no contest. Great cappuccino, pastries off the chart, excellent bacon, and strawberries that taste like real strawberries. YOWZAH!!

There are two main sites for the Biennale, and each of those have one huge venue loaded with artists selected by the top curator, Christine Macel (she is from the Pompidou in Paris), and team. Alongside each of the two venues are a mass of different countries having their own shows in separate pavilions and usually featuring just one artist (not always).

So, tons of pics from day one of the tour at the Biennale:

Most people will buy a ticket and then visit both sites

There are also events scheduled during the day, we have no time for any of them, there's too much art to see

Our motor launches pick us up a bit before 10 and we’re off to see half of the official Biennale, at Giardini. A local guide joins us and leads us through the main building and several of the national pavilions including the USA where Mark Bradford is the featured artist. For those of you with long memories, Bradford did one of the greatest installations ever: an ark as part of the New Orleans Prospect.1 show in 2008 (THB and others were there for a Katrina rebuild project and took in the art show in our off hours). 

Erica is our specialist in all exhibits Biennale, and she's using a headset so we don't all have to hover over her the entire time

First exhibit is Dawn Kaspar, an "artist in her studio"...except she's not here early in the morning

She makes work as you watch...except she's not here 

THB is going to include artists that catch his fancy...why? see QOTD

McArthur Binton

John Latham

Taus Makhacheka, shots of his video, Tightrope

Closeups of Binton's work


Tibor Hajas, photos of inflicted wounds

Kiki Smith

The cafe is a work of art, THB thinks by the same artists that did one on one of the Naoshima islands

UAS pavilion

Bradford wrote a great poem that lays out the theme for his installation

For most part, Bradford's work fills the entire space. THB found that claustrophobic and was repeated in several other pavilions, notably the British one 

Floor to high ceiling view

Bradford included video

The Germany pavilion was a performance piece with a long line and dogs (the show was on a false glass floor, so the dogs must have roamed in from the outside somehow); we didn't stay for the show, just peeked inside 

A trainer kept feeding the dogs, all seemed very cheerful

Canada's pavilion:  a water show that emphasized destruction

Phyllida Barlow with a huge installation

For lunch the tour is dining outside the Australian pavilion. When we arrive at 12:30 there are two women sitting at one of our two tables (there are only two tables and a drinks table and a buffet table). Why? Clearly wasn’t set up for them…Elisa asks them to leave, they are moderately belligerent. Welcome to the Venice Biennale!

Outside and below the Australian pavilion for lunch; Tracey Moffat is their featured/only artist 

Atypical signage in that it is handwritten. Everything here is in English and sometimes Italian. 

What we missed at the Giappone pavilion

THB's long lost cousin, Grisha?

Prez Vlad plays a joke on DJT?

There are a few i-pads programmed to pick up holograms when held in a certain spot

There's a long, slow documentary playing an interview with Giacometti's American love child, now in late 70s

Brazil's ultra-modern pavilion
At the Romanian pavilion they are showing Geta Bratescu. She's in her late 80s and has been a recluse for a long time. At Documenta they told a story about how she actually came to Kassel, even then they couldn't get her to include her work.  Romania had more success, to our benetfit!!

This is one of the panels in a large wall installation called 1990, Memory. A collage of one dark blue piece laid atop another not-quite-as-dark piece.

Each individual piece is slightly different

Collectively, it is stunning (and doesn't photo well)

Lady Oliver in Traveling Costume (Geta?) 
DB and SC and THB are touring more national pavilions in the early afternoon separately from the rest of the group when DB’s back and possibly dehydration catch up to her so she sits down for a while and then gets off  the motor taxi at the hotel while a subset of the tour heads to the Philip Guston exhibit. It’s quite the show, thoroughly showing how Guston pretty much stuck to the main iconic theme (e.g., feet, boots, bricks, etc.) and color scheme throughout his lengthy career.

Gallerie Dell'Accademia is having a huge Guston retrospective

Our guide is very good!

Guston and his wife/muse Musa McKim

The show is integrated with 5 poets, DH is one of them

Maybe they snuck a DeKooning in the show 

Gaylen Hansen clearly was influenced by Guston

Acrylic on paper

Whoa!! Gray?????

Guston from a lengthy video piece

THB and SC split off from the group returning to the hotel to reward ourselves for enjoying Guston exhibit

Our view across the canal framed while slurping up the gelato

James Lee Byars near the Dell' Accademia 

Part of THB's VR team posing in hotel courtyard

THB meets back up with DB at the hotel and now there are only 3 hours left before the tour regroups for a big meal and fireworks. just across the canal, we dine on the top floor (6th?) of a building where most of the Biennale offices are located.

The group meets after 8, water taxi to the Ca’ Giustinian for a gala dinner for people who are associated with putting on the Biannale. Our Venice guide, Elisa, worked on the Biennale team at one point and has garnered an invite for our group of 25. And, bonus round: tonight is the celebration of the Redentore, which includes the building of a temporary bridge (from our room we can just see one end of the bridge at the entrance of the church) to commemorats an event in 1577 when a bridge was built to the Fondamenta delle Zattore in less than 4 days.  Along with building a temp bridge, there's a 40 minute firework display that spans midnight; the Grand Canal is full of boats and alongside the sides of the canal even the boats tied up are full of people.

Dinner includes a four-statione starter, gnocchetti with smoked duck, risotto, a local fish (excellent) and then cookies and coffee during the fireworks and a dessert buffet that our group doesn’t stay to partake in since the otherwise the water taxi will turn into a pumpkin. 

THB's photos are washed out of color

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