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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Birdhead are a Shanghai collective who collect imagery that captures the lives of the modern Chinese.
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.
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.
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.
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.
54th, Andro Wekua, Arsenale, Bice Curiger, Bill Crosby, Birdhead, Chinese, Dayanita Singh, Elad Lassry, Elsa Schiaparelli, Franz West, georgia, Haroon Mirza, Hutong, ILLUMinations, Mai-Thu Perret, Parapavilion, Pink Wave Hunter, Rashid Johnson, Roman Ondak, Shanghai, Skeleton Dress, Song Dong, Swatch, Switzerland, Time Capsule (2011), Venice Biennale
- A Review of ILLUMinations at the Arsenale, Venice Biennale 2011: part two
- Swatch Watches Over the Rainbow and Be Black, designed by artist Jean-Michel Othoniel
- A Trip to Venice with Swatch
- Venice Biennale: Come for a Ride
- Faith exhibition – curated by David Hancock