We did not really like ‘The Encyclopedic Palace’, the curated sow by Massimiliano Gioni. But the great thing about the Venice Biennale is, you can always rely on the swarm intelligence of the curators of the 88 country pavilions and you will find some exciting art.
Here are our favorite country pavilions in the Giardini:
Alexandra Pirici and Manuel Pelmus at the Romanian pavilion
Vadim Zakharov (54) is one of the Moscow Conceptualists, who did their art since the 1970s until 1989 mainly in private circles. Today, he lives in Berlin and Moscow and exhibits internationally. He says, ‘My face is turned toward the unknown, while my masks address that which can be recognized by culture.’
Mr. Zakharov adapts the ancient Greek Danaë myth for his installation. In this legend the Greek god Zeus seduced Danaë, when he appeared in the form of a shower of gold.
At the lower entrance only women are allowed to enter the pavilion. They get a transparent umbrella and look upwards to a shower of golden Danaë coins. The artist asks them to take some of them and to put them back outside in a bucket, which is taken way on a rope through the ceiling.
When – men and women – enter the upper entrance they see an arrogant business man, who sits up in the roof and eats peanuts. In the next room you find the shower of golden coins and through a large hole in the floor you can knee down like in a church and ‘prey’ to the pile of seemingly golden Danaë coins in the lower floor.
In the last room you see another arrogant businessman lifting the filled bucket with golden coins from the lower floor and putting the coins back into the shower machine. The cycle goes on, when women put coins back in the bucket.
Critics may also be right who say, this installation is all too much of a spectacle or the roles of men and women are very traditional. But we think it is a great adaption of this ancient myth into the present.
We also like the ironic comment on the back of the Danaë coin: ‘The artist guarantees the value of this coin with his honor.’
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