Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Beauty in Venice, part 1

Gondola in Venice near Rialto Bridge. All photos courtesy the author.

Politics and beauty may be the two organizing guides I had while in Venice. Yes, yes, Venice is beautiful. I read that 58,000 people live there while 15,000,000 visitors inundate the city per year. No wonder the city is sinking with all those well-fed Western European and American visitors.

Yuan Gong, Arsenale.

I found beauty everywhere. This gorgeous installation by Yuan Gong was a floating palace of dreams, a respite from the slogging through the Giardini (and a calming influence before the bad few shows that were to follow).

Shada & Raja Alem, Arsenale.

This decorative piece was hard to comprehend in the dark; a floating disc of black loomed above an oval carpet of patterns. A visual interpretation of experience at Mecca perhaps, or a not-so-subtle commentary on the dampening effect religion has on the intricate web of relations between people in the Middle East?

Raafat Ishak, The Future of a Promise.

Raafat Ishak's multi-paneled painting in the Pan-Arab show interpreted the hundreds of requests made for visas and his rejection by this many governments. This playful Easter egg hunt was soothing yet fragile in its delicacy--surely reflecting the fragility of the situation lived by immigrants across the world seeking a better life.

Karla Black, Scottish corollary pavilion.

I loved this installation by Scottish artist Karla Black despite feeling I had seen this type of installation decades ago in LA. This fugitive, diy-craft-y material installation both harkens to the 1960s feminist movement and the 1980s LA garage-style works shown at places like FoodHouse. The aesthetic has seeped into art schools across the country. As a Scottish artist her aesthetic reference must be different--this is the kind of detail that was missing in the written materials at the show.

Oksana Mas, Ukrainian pavilion.

Speaking of eggs, we found this installation by Ukrainian artist Oksana Mas in a church near La Fenice. The artist used thousands of painted eggs to re-create a Byzantine mosaic of Christ. This year I saw more art works based on religious forms than ever-before--interesting that artists are commenting on the (perhaps hollow) overwhelming presence of religious life in Venice.

Taibamo, Japanese pavilion.

Taibamo's enveloping video animations are disconcerting dreamscapes where land and water merge and reverse positions. The gooey tentacles of seaweed caress and obscure in this mesmerizing but somewhat confounding installation.

Long live Beauty!

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