This is my (and my cousin, Tanguy’s) objective, unofficial guide to navigate through the 2011, 54th Venice Art Biennale: Illuminazioni. It should be especially useful for anyone with a limited amount of time and who likes mixed media art installations.
I’ll start in the Giardini which is comprised of large pavilions, each filled with art by a different artist from each of 28 countries. Now obviously there are more than 28 countries in the world, right? Other countries are represented in galleries scattered around Venice. You can see these shows for free and should visit them whenever you pass one. If you’re short on time, it’s not worth following any kind of map to go see them all.
I always like to start my Biennale adventures in the Giardini because I feel like it’s an easy way to ease into the onslaught of art. You can also take relaxing little breaks in the gardens in between pavilions. Okay here we go:
French: Yes, worth it. Christian Boltanski made a pretty cool installation called “Chance” and it really makes you think a bit about life and death — only because he displays an estimated number of people that are dying and being born in real time.
British pavilion – I liked this pavilion not because of what was inside but because the artist transformed the entire pavilion into a small village or ghetto, almost. It’s pretty cool to see and it must have take and absurd amount of work. So, worth it.
Japan is worth seeing if not just for the cool way that the images are projected and reflected in the pavilion.
The USA pavilion was the BEST. The winner. Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla did an awesome job entertaining me — and keeping my wallet full. A liberty statue tanning, an ATM machine embedded in an organ that played music when you withdrew money and an olympic athlete running on top of a tank (check the video below). All very cool. Supposedly the song that the organ plays is related to your bank balance…. so my song was short and sad.
Korea was pretty cool. Lots of flower camouflage and awesome videos of people wearing it all. Fun to see, pleasing to the eyes.
Next, Denmark: lots of weird collections of various artifacts belonging to the artist. Interesting presentation.
Israel’s installation was about water and building a salt bridge between Israel and Jordan. Pretty neat.
Venezuela was alright… cool cartoons of world leaders, pop stars, etc. But it’s worth it to go check it out just to see the most beautiful docent/attendant at the Biennale. Yeah, I said it.
The Venice pavilion was very cool, giant boats turned on the diagonal with tv’s inside showing running water.
Poland was also very interesting, all about a call for Jewish Polish people to return to Poland. Touching videos as well, worth sitting though them. No pictures for that.
The large pavilion displaying lots of random pieces from all over the world was also very cool. There was also an installation running throughout the entire building of pigeons hanging out in the rafters. Very cool. And weird talking heads.
And here are the ones I was less than impressed by:
- Australia… Nope.
- Switzerland pretty much looked like a dump. Not worth it.
- Germany gets a maybe but it was super weird and I could have gone without seeing it.
- The Czech pavilion was definitely missable.
- As was Russia… boo.
- Sweden was weak.
- Serbia, you get a maybe.
- Spain and Belgium left a bit to be desired.
- The Netherlands were disappointing.
- Finland and Hungary were, well, boring.
- Brasil – depressing – if you like weird art that includes human blood, then check it out.
- Egypt – sorry, no.
- Austria divided the space in an interesting way but I’m not sure it was worth the ten minutes I spent walking through it.
- Egypt, no, sorry.
- Romania, F.
- Canada, I really expected more from you.
- and Greece… ???
Check out my short review for the Arsenale.