Looking back to the days of undulation, even the boat bus stops (vaporetto) moved with the waves. What carried us were the emails to openings, the messages about parties, the group movements towards different events, and for me, the interviews I had to get in order to make some sense of the Biennial.
The voices that came through the most in the clamour were the ones ringing alarms in less than obvious ways but in remarkable ways, that required some advancing towards, in the sense of our attention, some listening and leaning in from us, the observers, passers-by the ones who come to see and hear whatever it is we feel this immense art event and all its satellite events is about.
My most favoured project was about the Venice we don’t see, a boat tour with blind locals and artist Antoni Abad for the Catalonian Pavilion.
If there’s anything Covid has taught us, with all it’s various concomitant lockdowns, is that no one is completely above censure. The hedonistic practices of the art world, in which I take part, the opening parties, the shows and performances for the involved few, were once part of the machine of the industry, the calendar an immovable feast of meetings and celebrations.
My images captured at 2017’s Venice Biennial reveal to me the amount I myself took this all for granted. Pictured below are the following events, click to find more details of the work I made around that particular aspect of the Biennial .
The Swiss Pavilion Opening Party (interview with the curator Philipp Kaiser on Alberto Giacometti’s Women of Venice), UK’s Diaspora Pavilion, Venice Agendas performances, Catalonia Pavilion (an interview with Antoni Abad on his fantastic BlindWiki), Turkey’s Pavilion an interview with the artist-musician Cevdet Erek, Anthony Quinn an artist who for some reason always has a big flotilla on the main canals at each biennial, The Finnish Pavilion opening party, notable works in the main Arsenale, The Tunisian Pavilion (which I published a long form article on in Canvas Magazine), The Irish Pavilion celebrating women in their older years, Gavin Turk’s installation inside a hotel… many more punctuated with my visual notes on repeated tropes such as doorknobs, and the many (visual) joys of a pedestrian city. All reminding me of the text I studied at UCL with Professor Dilwyn Knox: Giordano Bruno and his ideas on Utopia.
In 2017 I had written this to accompany these images: