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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

A Review of ILLUMinations at the Arsenale, Venice Biennale 2011: part one

A round up of the best art I saw at the ILLUMinations exhibition, part of the 54th Venice Biennale. Including work by Song Dong, Rashid Johnson, Dayanita Singh and Haroon Mirza.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review
During my recent trip to Venice I had the opportunity to visit the Venice Biennale. Even better, as guests of the primary partner Swatch, we had our own private tour around two major parts of the extensive exhibition. Here’s what I liked at the amazing old army dockyard, otherwise known as the Arsenale. ILLUMinations at the Arsenale was curated by Bice Curiger.

Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-song dong
Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-song dong
Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-song dong
Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-song dong
Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-song dong
Song Dong‘s massive Parapavilion installation greets visitors on entry to the Arsenale exhibition – part old Chinese Hutong, part wardrobe maze: a reference to the cupboards kept on streets in many old areas. An impressive piece to encounter straight away… and I particularly liked looking at all the details of the individual wardrobes, wondering what their previous lives were.

Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-456
Roman Ondak‘s eery artwork Time Capsule (2011) is focused on a replica of the rescue capsule that was used to evacuate the Chilean miners last year. Viewers approach it in darkness, only realising what it is when they are pressed up close to its narrow confines.

Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-Mai-Thu Perret
Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-Mai-Thu Perret
Mai-Thu Perret‘s glossy sculpture wears a replica of Elsa Schiaparelli‘s famous Skeleton Dress. Behind it a neon pyramid glows in sputtering layers.

Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-Andro Wekua
Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-Andro Wekua
Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-Andro Wekua
Andro Wekua of Georgia now works in Switzerland after he was forced into exile with the outbreak of war. Pink Wave Hunter is the odd title he gives a piece that is built on his recollections of important buildings from the city of his birth.

Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-Rashid Johnson
Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-Rashid Johnson
Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-Rashid Johnson
Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-Rashid Johnson
Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-Rashid Johnson
Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-Rashid Johnson
Rashid Johnson examines the culture of the black diaspora in America. A zebra rug is laid on top of a woollen carpet. Artefacts particular to his upbringing, such as a book on childcare by Bill Crosby, are laid out on shattered mirrored wall mounts. Beautiful and affecting.

Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-Birdhead
Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-Birdhead
Birdhead are a Shanghai collective who collect imagery that captures the lives of the modern Chinese.

Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-Franz West
Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-500
Franz West has relocated his kitchen to the gallery for his Parapavilion, complete with artwork from his walls – thereby creating a show within a show. And yes, a photograph proves that his walls are indeed painted in this crazy cross-hatched manner.

Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-Dayanita Singh
Dayanita Singh‘s evocative collection of black and white photographs highlights the many many files sitting on shelves across India, which will soon vanish as the use of computers and hard drives become ever more prevalent.

Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-Elad Lassry
Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-Elad Lassry
Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-Elad Lassry
Elad Lassry shows a video montage of catsuited dancers alongside colourful images of vintage ladies in big hats and pop art-esque mushrooms. No idea what it all means but it was fun.

Venice Biennale 2011 Swatch review-Haroon Mirza
Haroon Mirza has created an eery installation – visitors enter a darkened box with walls covered in sound soaking points of foam. The combination of sound and blinking neon creates a discombobulating effect that leaves everybody giggling.

Next up: more from the ILLUMinations exhibition in part two.

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