53rd Venice Biennial - Arsenale


This part of the Venice Biennial's exhibition at the Arsenale area shows a mix of the curated 'Fare Mondi // Making Worlds' show and country pavilions.


Lygia Pape, 'Tteita', installation (c) photo by Premier Art Scene


Right at the entrance everything is dark. Then there occurs the installation 'Tteia' made of  gold thread by the Brazilian artist Lygia Pape. It was made in 2002 - two years before the artist died. It is quite beautiful.



Then you step into the light of a room with a mirror installation by the Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto. In a performance he destroyed some of the mirrors with a big hammer. The room is spectacular, when you come out of the dark, but I prefer his work with the figures printed on the mirrors.


Paul Chan: 'Sade for Sade's Sake' of 2009 (c) photo by Premier Art Scene


The most impressive work in the arsenale to me was the scaring  'Sade for Sade's Sake' of 2009 by Paul Chan:


It is an animation work that uses shadow play elements. Human bodies and abstract forms overlay each other. The human shadows torture and rape each other. At the same time, the form of shadow play gives the scene an immature child-play like imagination.


It is about de Sade, but it made me think about the fact that in the detention camp of Abu Graib many very young US solders were serving. The abstract forms also could be read as a symbol for the political issues that overlay the entire situation there.


Raquel Paiewonsky, 'Mutantes (particolare)', 2009 (c) photo by Premier Art Scene


Less scary are the works by Raquel Paiewonsky (pavilion of the Dominican Republic). She shows sculptures of every day textile materials featuring aspects of femininity. She seems to be developing her own ideas in the tradition of Louse Bourgeois. Nice, but somewhat 'art-school'.


Gonkar Gyatso, 'The Shambala in Modern Times' of 2008 courtesy Peggy Scott and David Teplitzky (c) photo by Premier Art Scene


Tibet born artist Gonkar Gyatso makes traditional iconographic Thangka works using advertising logos. This way he questions consumerism and traditional society.


Richard Wentworth, 'Untitled' of 2009 (c) photo by Premier Art Scene


London based artist Richard Wentworth shows interesting wall installations. He put walking sticks on glass boards up on the wall and plays with its shadows.


Lamya Gargash: 'Familial' of 2009 (c) photo by Premier Art Scene


I was especially disappointed by the first official participation of the United Arab Emirates: A lot of money was spent to launch the pavilion; Lamya Gargash produced a photo series about interiors of one star hotels in the United Arab Emirates. Well, it looks like art - but what is so special about one star hotels?


Real estate development models at the UAE pavilion (c) Premier Art Scene


I had very high expectations for this contribution, but was heavily disappointed: The Venice Biennial is not just a real estate development project!



Edda, 25-06-09 10:29
U.G., you are right: The pavilion of the United Arab Emirates is really weak!

They would have had everyting:

The money, the PR,...

And finally it ends up as a simple promotion for their gigantic instant museum projects.

You can buy expensive art - but you cannot buy the 'spirit' of a real passionate collection!
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