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November 08 2013

Giant Cruise Ships to be Banned from Venice Beginning Next Year | Italy Magazine

Giant Cruise Ships to be Banned from Venice Beginning Next Year | Italy Magazine

Large cruise ships passing through the Venice lagoon are to be banned effective November 2014, and a limit on smaller cruise vessels will kick in January, government officials in Rome ordered on Tuesday.
The order came following a meeting between Italy’s Prime Minister Enrico Letta, his transport and culture ministers and Venice city officials and regional authorities, discussing how to implement in Venice a law that bans large ships from passing near Italian shores. The law was enacted nationwide following the crash of the Costa Concordia cruise ship in early 2012, which killed 32 people off the coast of Tuscany, but was not applied in Venice where the cruise industry plays a key role in the local economy.
As of January, the traffic volume of cruise ships weighing between 40,000 and 96,000 tonnes must be reduced to no more than five ships per day. The outright ban starting November 2014 only applies to those over 96,000 tonnes (similar to the Costa Concordia).
According to the order, cruise traffic will eventually be rerouted through the Contorta Sant’Angelo Canal. Environmentalists warn that the lagoon surrounding Venice, itself a UNESCO heritage site, is at great risk due to its fragile ecosystem and Venice residents have staged many protests over the invasion of the cruise ships. Currently, cruise ships pass within 300 metres (1,000 feet) of St Mark’s Square. Over the past 15 years, Venice has become one of the world’s most important cruise destinations, with more than 650 cruise ships passing through the city annually.
“Finally the trend towards gigantic ships in the lagoon has been turned around,” the mayor of Venice, Giorgio Orsoni, said in a statement on Tuesday. “We’ve had enough of these mega cruise ships just meters away from San Marco; from now on there will be clear limits on the size of ships that can enter Venice.”


September 15 2012

i-land. Scientific Towns and Cities / Russian Pavilion at Venice Architecture Biennale 2012

i-land at Russian Pavilion is the second half of Russia’s contribution to the 13th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia in Venice, Italy. While the i-city part has a look into the future with the presentation of the innovation city Skolkovo, i-land allows the visitors to have a look at the secret science cities of the Cold War, the so-called Naukograds.

At this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale the Russian pavilion presents the innovation city (or i-city) Skolkovo. Skolkovo is one of the largest Russian projects of today. Many international architects such as David Chipperfield Architects, SANAA, and Herzog & de Meuron are involved in the project. The aim of the project is to combine science and modern technologies with human life.

Venice Architecture Biennale 2012: Common Ground. 13th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Russian Pavilion at the Giardini, August 29, 2012.

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September 13 2012

Play Mincu: Romanian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2012

Play Mincu is the title of the exhibition at the Romanian pavilion at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale. It pays homage to the legendary architect, politician and creator of the Romanian School of Architecture, Ion Mincu. The five curators of the Romanian pavilion – Emil Ivanescu, Irina Bogdan, Ana Costantinescu, Laura Iosub and Paul Popescu – have created a show that engages the audience similarly effective as the Russian pavilion does – but in a more analogue way: Visitors can produce an architectural stamp by choosing from embossing stamps that reproduce the most famous buildings designed by Ion Mincu or stamps that reproduce quotes from famous architects and artists. The stamps hint both at the art, but also at the bureaucratic hurdles an architect has to deal with.

Play Mincu: Romanian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2012. Venice (Italy), August 28, 2012.

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September 04 2012

Olafur Eliasson: Little Sun / Venice Architecture Biennale 2012

At the Venice Architecture Biennial 2012, the artist Olafur Eliasson showed his “Little Sun” solar lamp, that is also part of an installation presented in the main exhibition “Common Ground”. For the installation, Olafur Eliasson attached two Little Sun lamps to a fan. When the fan is on, the individual lights create a continuous ring of light.

The Little Sun lamp is a work of art / product of LittleSun GmbH, a company founded by artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen. LittleSun aims to make sustainable light available anywhere. In this video the Managing Director of LittleSun, Felix Hallwachs, tells us more about the little solar lamp.

Olafur Eliasson: Little Sun. Venice Architecture Biennale 2012: Common Ground. 13th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Venice (Italy), August 29, 2012.

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October 14 2011

Secret Venice - in pictures

Real Venice, a photography exhibition, opened at Somerset House in London this week. Fourteen artists were asked to create original images, capturing the beauty of the city, as well as the ravages of mass tourism
The exhibition runs until 11 December

October 10 2011

Raša Todosijević: Light and Darkness of Symbols. Serbian Pavilion at Venice Art Biennale 2011

Dragoljub Raša Todosijević represents Serbia at the 54th Venice Art Biennale with his project Light and Darkness of Symbols. Todosijević has conceived his participation as exhibition divided in three interdependent parts. The first part titled “Journal” shows 120 smaller works produced in different materials; the second part titled “Installation” presents works borrowed from existing art collections; finally, the third part mainly consists of photographs that document the artist’s performances.

Raša Todosijević: Light and Darkness of Symbols. Serbian Pavilion at the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in Venice, Italy. Preview, June 3, 2011.

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Press release:

Dragoljub Todosijević – Raša. Light and Darkness of Symbols

Members of the Professional Council – Irina Subotid (President), Jerko Denegri, Mrđan Bajid, Zoran Todorovid and Zoran Erid, have decided that Serbia’s representative on the 54. International Art Exhibition will be Todosijevid Dragoljub – Raša with his project Light and Darkness of Symbols. Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina will carry out the participation of the selected representative, the Exhibition Curator is Sanja Kojid Mladenov, Assistant Curator is Svetlana Mladenov, while its Commissioner is Živko Grozdanid.

The title of the 54th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia is: ILLUMInations. The 54. International Art Exhibition represents one of the most important and influential forums for the dissemination and ”illumination” of current developments and movements on the international art scene. Therefore, the starting point and the concept of this year’s 54. International Art Exhibition artistic director, Swiss art historian, critic and curator, Bice Curiger, is a historical reference to the work of Venetian painter Tintoretto, whose occupation with light, either rational or transcendental, can be viewed as significant for the work of many contemporary artists. Accordingly, the National Participations were invited to represent their countries in pavilions through the work of artists dealing with questions related to the central exhibition theme – ILLUMInations. Through the issue of symbols, the project of the Belgrade conceptual artist Raša Todosijevid is engaged in observation and ”clarification” of sociopolitical, economic and cultural context of the author’s social environment, with special focus on sensitive issues such as mythology, religion and power. The Project Light and Darkness of Symbols is composed of several segments, conceptualized through the different forms of installations, journal, and history. At the 54. International Art Exhibition, Todosijevid will present the exhibition in three interdependent parts.

The first part of the exhibition refers to the works under the title ”Journal,” which represent the sum of 120 smaller works produced in different materials, with different conceptual approaches and in different dimensions. Each individual art piece can be displayed and interpreted as a separate artistic entity. Designed in this way, the ”Journal” is a constantly supplemented and growing unit with changing variables and relations where each piece is complete and independent. Therefore, these are not drafts, but conceptually compose a larger piece. The first version of ”Journal” was exhibited at the Gallery Remont in Belgrade, the second at the retrospective exhibition of Todosijevid’s works at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade, and the third at the retrospective exhibition at the Gallery of Contemporary Art Celje in Slovenia. Furthermore, the fourth was a retrospective exhibition at the National Gallery for Foreign Art in Sofia, the fifth an independent exhibition at the Gallery Ozone in Belgrade, the sixth version was on the 50th October Salon in Belgrade, while the seventh was presented at a recently held exhibition entitled ”Serbia – Frequently Asked Questions” in the gallery of the Austrian Cultural Forum New York.

The second part of Todosijevid’s exhibition at the 54. International Art Exhibition will be the work entitled ”Installations”.The one part of the exhibition ‘Installations” will consist the works borrowed from the existing art collections and pieces which have also been produced before, but in a way that allows further expansion, refinement or extensions – for instance, the piece entitled ”The Sculpture” which consists of 2fifty teapots filled with cement. This piece is a part of a series of works in which Todosijevid constantly discusses some of the inherited conceptions and understandings of the Art. The exhibition also includes a series of installations collectively entitled ”Gott liebt die Serben” (God Loves the Serbs) which, in fact, denote the debate about the constantly changing interpretation of symbols and conditionality of these changes in given historical circumstances.

The third part of the exhibition consists of photographs, representing a kind of historical introduction, preface, or retrospective summary of artist’s arrival to the forms of Installations, Journal, Sculptures… These are the photographs of those Todosijevidʹs works that represent an imposing support of his artistic work and activities, which, as the artist said himself, helped him create his present and allowed him to be who he is.

Conceptually, these artworks represent mainly recordings of Todosijevidʹs performances from the early seventies, such as Decision as Art, Drinking Water, Was ist Kunt – What is Art?; billboards from the Nineties (Murder, Serboranges, Sewage Flower, The Best Wine in Italy, Art is Dead…) and billboards from the end of the first decade of 21st century (Tomorrow is Monday, Mother for Sale, Despite the Economic Crisis…).

An extensive exhibition catalog and monograph will present reproductions of many earlier works of Dragoljub Raša Todosijevid and provide detailed provenance and exhibition histories of each work, as well as artist’s biography and professional texts. Raša Todosijevid’s selected project will be exhibited in the Pavilion of Serbia (former”Yugoslavia”) from June 4th until November 27th, 2011.

September 08 2011

Sigalit Landau, Pavilion of Israel, Venice Art Biennale 2011

Sigalit Landau represents Israel at the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in Venice, Italy. Landau conceived a site-specific installation, the main themes being water, soil, and salt. The installation is titled One Man’s Floor is Another Man’s Feelings, a variation on the familiar saying “one man’s floor is another man’s ceiling”. Hit the jump for more info and the press release.

Sigalit Landau: One Man’s Floor is Another Man’s Feelings. Pavilion of Israel, 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Venice / Italy, June 4, 2011.

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Excerpt from the press release:

Upper floor
The spiral staircase leads the visitor directly to the upper floor. Unlike the bottom floor, this one is nearly empty. The relatively large space is entirely dedicated to a video film that is screened on a diagonal wall. In the film, cinematic in size and quality, a pair of shoes is shown in close up, covered with salt crystals, lying on a layer of ice. The shoes, which Landau previously dipped in salt water, underwent a process of natural crystallization until they were covered with a thick layer of salt. Next, the shoes were flown to a frozen lake in Gdansk (Danzig), Poland – an area that in the not too distant past was the focus of a feud for possession between Germany and Poland – and placed on ice and, in a slow process, the shoes melted the ice until they fell into the hole they created. The sinking of the shoes is connected with a sense of melancholy, loss of control and even physical collapse, a condition in which “the ground plummets underfoot”. The size of the screen is significant since it embraces the viewer and sharpens and heightens the experience of being part of the installation.


Middle floor and courtyard
The middle floor was deliberately selected as the site for the exhibition’s central installation; the middle is both the average and the place where opposites can meet. This is also the floor that connects the two other floors into one entity, which here receives its full significance and meaning. Erected on this floor is an installation consisting of a round conference table with a wide-open gap in the middle and chairs around it. Scattered on the table are laptops and shown on their screens are scenes from a movie depicting a little girl hiding under the same table and tying together the shoelaces of the people engaged in debate; perhaps a prank, perhaps an innocent act intended to force the debaters to remain seated until they find a solution to the issue they are discussing. But it turns out that despite this, the debaters desert the conference table and flee barefoot, leaving their shoes behind them. From the loudspeakers concealed in the walls, the voices of the absent debaters are heard, speaking in Hebrew and Arabic, or in English with typical accents. The topic of the debate is the construction of a salt bridge that will connect the Israeli side of the Dead Sea to the Jordanian side. The discussion centers
4on practical and technical aspects of the concept of the bridge. Several white flags are propped against one of the walls, objects that Landau dipped in the Dead Sea until they were covered with salt crystals. An echo of the tied circle of shoes is also found in the courtyard, where a circle of bronze shoes, tied to one another, is located.


(…) shoes are the motif with the greatest presence in the exhibition and their location in the conference room increases their presence tenfold – twelve pairs of shoes (the number of the tribes of Israel). The circle of shoes tied to one another emphasizes the circle in which the debaters are trapped, unable to untie or open the knots. The shoes are also a metaphor for a state of wandering and being a refugee, subjects frequently addressed by Landau. Abandoned or grouped shoes are linked to the Holocaust in Israeli consciousness, as well as in Landau’s consciousness, and she explicitly referred to this subject in The Endless Solution exhibition. There, we also saw the presence of many boxes of shoes numbered 39-45, the years of World War II, as well as pairs of clogs scattered around the space. The most notable work dealing with shoes in the context of the Holocaust was created by Joshua Neustein, Georgette Bélier and Gérard Marks, and exhibited at the Jerusalem Artists House in 1969. This work made a very direct statement; thousands of pairs of shoes were placed in piles throughout the spaces of the House in a manner reminiscent of the piles of shoes found in the extermination camps, and even the manner in which such piles are displayed in various Holocaust history museums. Additionally, a row of bronze shoes (by Giola Pauer) was installed on the banks of the Danube River in Budapest (shoes of all types – men, women and children) in memory of Jews shot and thrown into the river by Nazi collaborators after being ordered to remove their shoes. In other contexts, the most famous shoe paintings are Van Gogh’s; some of these are reminiscent of the pair of shoes that Landau chose for her video work on the upper floor. Other well-known shoes are Andy Warhol’s, who repeatedly referred to shoes in the context of mass culture, and even as a type of self-portrait, in a manner similar to Van Gogh. One piece that Warhol entitled My Shoe Is Your Shoe even recalls the title of the current exhibition.


Without being overtly political, the exhibition (also) deals with the political in life and in art and, inherent in it, is criticism of nationalism and national ego, which always undermine rationalism and the positive potential inherent in cooperation and a just distribution of resources and wealth. Landau’s perspective is dialectic; from below, through the eyes of the little girl hiding under the table, as well as from above, over the heads of the men playing the Countries game. The exhibition attempts to bridge the gap between the childlike, innocent, ideal perception, and the world of adults, the estranged, calculated work of policymakers (political, social and economic), in a search for synthesis and unity of opposites.

August 31 2011

Nicholas Hlobo’s Dragon Sculpture at Venice Art Biennale 2011

South African artist Nicholas Hlobo is known for his richly layered sculptures and distinctive use of materials. For his work he chooses materials such as rubber inner tubes, ribbon, gauze, lace and found objects, and combines them using techniques such as stitching and weaving. The choice of materials as well as the techniques of putting the pieces together are charged with meaning. Masculine materials such as the inner tubes of car tyres meet feminine techniques of creating things. Thus Hlobo attempts to explore issues of gender, race and ethnicity.

For the ILLUMInations exhibition of the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia Nicholas Hlobo created a giant flying rubber dragon made of tyre inner tubes, stitched together with red ribbons. The title of the work is All the Lightning Birds Are After Me, or – in Hlobo’s native Xhosa language: Iimpundulu Zonke Ziyandilandela.

Nicholas Hlobo was born in Cape Town in 1975. The artist lives and works in Johannesburg. Currently he is also taking part in the exhibition The World Belongs to You at Palazzo Grassi in Venice.

Nicholas Hlobo: Iimpundulu Zonke Ziyandilandela. ILLUMInations (Illuminazioni). Main exhibition at the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2011. Arsenale, Venice / Italy, June 4, 2011.

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August 22 2011

What can we learn from Italy's urban utopias?

An end to Britain's 'sick society' lies in vibrant local government, as illustrated in Vittore Carpaccio's beguiling vision of Venice

What makes a city live? And what can kill it? These are questions Britons in Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and London may want to ask after this summer's bleak revelation that urban England is not in the rudest of social health.

But if you are in search of cities that work, you can do a lot worse than focus on Italy. In Vittore Carpaccio's painting The Miracle of the Relic of the True Cross on the Rialto Bridge, a crowded skyline of curiously shaped chimneys decorates the peach and sapphire sky, while crowds of people in fine robes congregate around the wooden Rialto bridge. This was Venice in 1494, when Carpaccio painted a series on the commercial heart of the great maritime republic.

It is a vision of city life that still beguiles today: compact and human-scaled, intimate and livable, the Renaissance Italian city is a dream of urban planning. But, in fact, the cities of Italy – then and now – demonstrate a rich diversity of urban possibilities.

Venice is unique, obviously: it seems to float. But its singularity is just one of the defiant personalities displayed by Italian cities. As is well known, Italy was not unified until 1861. Before that, its history was largely shaped by city states; this autonomy encouraged cities to pursue radically different models of urban life.

Renaissance political theorists were struck by the constrast between stately, tranquil Venice and the equally wealthy – yet violent and unstable – republic of Florence. If Carpaccio's scenes transport us to 15th-century Venice, the definitive image of Florence in the same period is a scene of three men being burned in the city centre. Why did Florence suffer so many tumults when Venice was so calm?

In modern times, as in the Renaissance, Italy's urban experience is diverse. While northern cities such as Ferrara seem little paradises, the great sprawling southern city of Naples is notoriously troubled. The problems of organised crime that bedevil Naples have also scarred Palermo in Sicily: as recently as the 1990s, large areas of Palermo were derelict no-go zones.

Now here's the amazing thing. Contrary to those who think history is irrelevant to understanding the modern world, the pattern of urban glory and mayhem in modern Italy exactly conforms to historical patterns. Naples was as raw in the days of Caravaggio as it is today. The southern cities did not govern themselves like the northern republics, and the difference showed in mass poverty and desperate rebellions.

Is there a moral for modern-day Britain here? The best cities govern themselves, Italy suggests, and nurture civic pride. It does not seem to matter if a city state is a republic or a monarchy – it is always more vibrant than a city ruled from far away. Obviously British cities are not going to become autonomous states, but the Italian evidence is that strong, exuberant local government is a good thing. So is respect for your city's history and cultural heritage, and so is a dynamic relationship with the surrounding countryside. We can't all live in Venice. But we don't have to live in the City of Dis. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

August 15 2011

Ahmed Basiony: Thirty Days of Running in the Space / Egypt Pavilion at Venice Art Biennale 2011

Egypts contribution to the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia is a tribute to the artist, musician and professor Ahmed Basiony. Ahmed Basiony (1978 – 2011) was killed on Cairo’s Tahrir Square on January 28, 2011, during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. The exhibition is titled 30 Days of Running in the Space and refers to a project that Ahmed Basiony had realized outside Cairo’s Palace of Arts, not far from Tahrir Square. For 30 days, the artist was jogging everyday for an hour in a square structure enclosed in transparent plastic sheets. Ahmed Basiony wore a suit that measured the artist’s number of steps and levels of sweat produced. This data was wirelessly transferred to a large screen, thus altering the displayed grid of colors. The second part of the exhibition shows raw footage of the revolts on the streets of Cairo.

Ahmed Basiony: Thirty Days of Running in the Space. Egypt Pavilion at the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2011. Giardini della Biennale, Venice / Italy, June 4, 2011.

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August 08 2011

Diohandi: Beyond Reform / Greek Pavilion at Venice Art Biennale 2011

While other pavilions overwhelm visitors with visual impressions, the Greek pavilion is more or less empty. The Greek artist Diohandi who is representing Greece at the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia conceived a site-specific installation that transforms the pavilion with wood, water, and light. Diohandi creates a minimalist, rather silent environment.

Maria Marangou (Art Critic and Curator of the Greek Pavilion at the 54th Biennale di Venezia):

Diohandi’s installation-Greek pavilion in a way reflects the current political state of Europe and the world at large. It is at the same time, obviously, a comment on the contemporary Greek experience of economic recession and IMF tutelage. A place of light thrown into darkness and decline, almost willingly it seems, yet holding on to hopes of spiritual and sociopolitical reconstruction; in other words, to a vision of light that should bring along with it clarity of mind and the ultimate catharsis. As such the work would encourage anything but imitation and repetition.

Diohandi: Beyond Reform / Greek Pavilion at Venice Art Biennale 2011, Giardini della Biennale, Venice / Italy, June 4, 2011.

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August 03 2011

Markus Schinwald – Austrian Pavilion, Biennale di Venezia 2011

Markus Schinwald represents Austria at the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Schwinwald is known for mixed-media installations and films. In his work, he often investigates the psychological relationship between space and the human body. For the Austrian pavilion he conceived an architectural intervention that basically consists of a variety of small corridors that create a labyrith-like situation.

Markus Schinwald was born in 1973 in Salzburg, Austria. He lives and works in Vienna and Los Angeles. His works are part of numerous international collections such as the Tate Modern in London, the Musée d’Art Modern in Paris, the Kunsthaus Zürich, and the MUMOK in Vienna. His numeours exhibitions include solo shows at the Kunsthaus Bregenz, the Frankfurter Kunstverein, and the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst.

Austrian Pavilion, Giardini della Biennale, Venice / Italy, June 4, 2011.

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Eva Schlegel (Commissioner) on Markus Schinwald (excerpt from the press release)

Tons of material are piled in front of the Austrian Pavilion. There are enormous steel baskets; pallets bearing six-meter panels that are worked on outside the Austrian Pavilion. In the end, everything will have proceeded upward and be suspended from the ceiling. Light, white, and labyrinthine.

Before the entry portals, two gates with asymmetrical apertures impede the visitor’s access. The detour via the side entrances signals that, for the duration of the 54th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, it won’t be possible to take a linear path through this pavilion.

With his work for the Biennale, Markus Schinwald has used spatial constriction to create spatial expansion – a paradox pervading his artistic oeuvre. He also introduces an unusual horizontal division, which begins at crotch height. Physically palpable and unsettling, this caesura becomes the moment of torsion between uncontrollable expanse and choreographed constriction.

The dissection of the upper space along vertical axes gives rise to a new form of perception, one that takes the human body as the reference point for its articulation, yet also adds a sense of uncanniness through the disproportional ceiling height. As a result, the fractures, the disruptive moments that Schinwald’s works otherwise inscribe in the human body here reappear in three- dimensional space. Hanging cubes, inserted walls, niches, long corridors leading nowhere, and the natural light that falls from above into the oversized chasms of the passageways shape this journey of discovery between the hidden and the visible. It’s an arena that closely matches the topography of its location – reflecting Venice, a maze of alleyways and sunken roads.

Yet when he describes the structural elements, Markus Schinwald prefers to use the terms of psychoanalysis. The space he creates is a dissociative rather than a genuinely fragmented one: claustrophobic above, nothing below. Or, as he puts it, the head in neurosis, the crotch in psychosis.

In his Biennale work, Schinwald confidently combines architectural elements with pictorial, sculptural, and filmic or performative ones. He subtly explores the dispositifs of control, discipline, and self-correction. These are inscribed in the human body, shaping and permeating it; they reemerge on the body surface, in visible and tangible form, as psychologically charged inner worlds. For his new two-part film, entitled Orient, Schinwald recreates the Austrian Pavilion entrance in model form, and the situation he has contrived offers him a means to coerce the body. The vertical abysses on display thus become a showplace for inadequacy and compulsiveness.

In the framework of Bice Curiger’s general theme ILLUMInations, Markus Schinwald negotiates the representation and manipulation of space, time, light, and shadow. He not only alters our experience of space through an element of disturbance, but also allows the Austrian Pavilion’s architecture and history to stand and makes it his subject – with all its ruptures, rifts, and blemishes.

At the core of Schinwald’s art is the psychological confrontation with space and body, the uncanny and the discomfiting, the deficient and the irrational depths of individual and collective being. His observing eye focuses on the human body with all its idiosyncrasies, and on the sociocultural environment in which that body is embedded. By binding the distanced, passive viewer to the spatial and temporal context, Schinwald makes the spectator a protagonist, someone who sees actively and is given the opportunity, through emotionalized experience, to develop and pursue individual analogies and storylines. The carefully positioned paintings and sculptures pick up new narrative threads and emphasize the denseness of the void.

The space expands outward, a storytelling babel of voices commences – and the labyrinth begins to float.

July 29 2011

Gelitin Installation and Performance: Gelatin Pavilion – Some Like it Hot!

The Vienna-based art collective Gelitin is know for their unconventional exhibitions, installations, and performances. For their participation in the Venice Art Biennale 2011 they conceived the Gelatin Pavilion, located in the Giardini delle Vergini (Arsenale). The centerpiece of the site-specific installation titled Gelatin Pavilion – Some like it Hot is a wood-fired furnace that is used to transform glasses and bottles into a lump of melted glass (so if you want a piece of Venetian Murano glass you have to look elsewhere). During the Preview days of the Venice Biennale, Gelitin fired up the audience with live performances, supported by the Brooklyn-based band Japanther.

From Pizza ovens to the Venice’s glass blowing industry – a lot of connotations can be linked with the Gelatin Pavilion. Gelitin wouldn’t be Gelitin if they wouldn’t draw links to architects, assholes, carbon dioxide, pyramids, the Venice glass industry, pizza ovens, sugar, Miss Jesus, light bulbs, alchemy and magic, digestion, sex, wasting of energy, and table tennis balls. Anyway: As they say themselves, with Some Like it Hot Gelitin use quite a lot of energy for a diffuse result.

The four artists Wolfgang Gantner, Ali Janka, Florian Reither and Tobias Urban founded Gelitin in 1993. Since then, they have staged boxing matches and floggings, invented the human elevator and the speaking vortex, presented themselves as “Happy Chickens”, designed a new typeface based on excrements, and created a Wonder of the Word that bold visitors could only access by diving through a water hole. They invented a water bed filled with the urine of gallery visitors, made a sculpture being blindfolded, installed a boating lake on the roof of a gallery, and created the human 3d copy machine. A list with all documented projects is available on Gelitin’s website.

Gelitin: Gelatin Pavilion – Some Like it Hot! at the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Performance, Giardini delle Vergini (Arsenale), Venice / Italy, June 4, 2011.

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July 25 2011

Clemencia Labin: Velada Santa Lucía / Venice Art Biennale 2011 / Interview

Three artists are representing Venezuela at the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in Venice, Italy: Bassim Francisco, Yoshi, and Clemencia Labin. While Bassim Francisco and Yoshi exhibit artworks of individual character, Clemencia Labin chose to present a work that she has realized together with others, her social sculpture titled Velada Santa Lucía. VernissageTV had the chance to meet with Clemencia Labin in Venice, and to learn more about the “Santa Lucia Evening”, a project that she organizes annually in the city of Maracaibo. The above video is an excerpt, the complete video is available after the jump.

The Velada Santa Lucía is a collective art project that takes place every year in the Santa Lucía neighbourhood of the city of Maracaibo, Venezuela. The project is closely linked to the city and the social life of the community. Different visual artists from different places take over the public space and even private homes: The inhabitants of the village open their homes and allow their living rooms to be used for art exhibitions. To date, the Velada Santa Lucía has taken place eleven times already. More than 400 artists took part in the event this year.

Clemencia Labin was born in Maracaibo, Venezela in 1946. She studied with Franz E. Walther and Sigmar Polke at the HfBK Academy of Art Hamburg and lives and works in Hamburg / Germany, and Caracas / Venezuela. Her work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions worldwide.

Clemencia Labin: Velada Santa Lucía, Calle del Arte. Pavilion of Venezuela, Venice Art Biennale 2011. Interview by Sabine Trieloff. Venice, Italy, June 1, 2011.

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Full-length video (11:46 Min.):

Text by Javier Cerisola (Commissioner, Venezuelan Pavilion):

The Velada Santa Lucía (videos External Hall) is a collective art project, organized every year by Clemencia Labin in the Santa Lucía neighbourhood of the city of Maracaibo, Venezuela. To date, the event has taken place eleven times. While in Bassim and Yoshi we find inner space represented by two poles or dialogic possibilities, Velada Santa Lucía refers to the city —to public space — and its main theme is a celebration based around art where art is an excuse for the appropriation of public space and its (self) recognition as a living organism, producer and recipient of culture.

However, the project is not just about a group of different visual artists from different places and fields taking over public space, co-existing —it should be noted— with other traditional manifestations of street life (food and drink stalls). In Velada Santa Lucía the fusion of art with other daily collective activities goes further and even inserts itself into intimate spaces: the neighbours in the area open the doors of their homes and allow their living rooms to be used for art exhibitions, thus producing one of the most original aspects of Labin’s project in relation to urban art appropriations in our country or to other types and other sized initiatives, such as the institutionalized White Nights festivals in Europe.

In Velada Santa Lucía, home and street are museum and contemporary art gallery for two nights in a much more complex, open and even unpredictable sense than what is traditionally offered by those institutions, even when across the world many are making renewed efforts regarding the type of relationship between artworks and the public that they make possible and bring about.

Labin’s Velada is a real way of making society and art interact. A permissive and public space where the spectator is part of a great collective performance.

Caracas, March 2011

Text by Luis Hurtado (Curator of the Venezuelan Pavilion):

Clemencia Labin. Velada Santa Lucía

Clemencia Labin’s commitment to and activism within art is well known in Venezuela. As an artist, Labin is a versatile creator whose personal work enjoys significant national and international renown and spans painting, assemblage, sculpture, installation and performance. Using a very personal and highly contemporary style, she develops experimental works that are characterised by a softness in approaching forms and by gentle contrasts in both the use of colour and materials, as well as the tropical opulence that honours the warmth, the imaginary and the aesthetic-cultural syncretism of her native Maracaibo. As well as revealing the artist’s close relationship to the lands of Zulia State, Labin’s performances are charged with a mystical poetry that speaks of local people’s spiritual tradition, which has found connections between Christian religiousness and Pagan rituals.

However, Clemencia Labin’s work goes beyond the range of her personal work; she is the mastermind, craftswoman and promoter of one of the most important public art experiences in our country, the Velada Santa Lucía. What began as a platform to support emerging artists through a means of exhibiting works that encourages intervention, both on a domestic-intimate level and on an urban scale, and exchange between participating artists, organisers and the community where the event takes place, has eleven years later become a massive contemporary art laboratory that triggers endless readings and interrelations.

The Velada Santa Lucía takes place annually in the Santa Lucía neighbourhood of the city of Maracaibo, in Zulia State. During the event, local people open the doors of their homes to more than two hundred artists who take part in each edition in order to work collectively to transform the community into a kind of “grand museum in the street” and an experimental space eager to welcome a varied public, whose interest and curiosity in finding out what is happening there has grown exponentially year on year. The artists on offer change each year and consequentially each day of the Velada is an unrepeatable opportunity to experience aesthetic moments, artistic styles, happenings and urban art amalgamate with colours, furniture, religious altars, backdrops and a galaxy of elements that make up the facades and most intimate spaces of homes in the neighbourhood.

The Velada Santa Lucía, a sublime and unique experience in Venezuela, has become a multi-dimensional space that activates a social dynamic in which the community and group of artists are the protagonists of an act of creation. Among the families, the artists and the mass of spectators drawn to discover the spirit of the event, interrelations that are impossible to establish beyond the realm of art are activated. Clemencia Labin, who as well as being the project’s ideologue, also participates as an artist in each edition, sets the process of the Velada Santa Lucía in motion by suggesting an initial vision of the event, but this vision expands, takes possession of time, gains a life of its own, creates its own rules and its own harmonies. The limit between the public and the private is blurred as the roles of artist, neighbour and spectator are interchanged; spontaneous and unexpected actions that arise on the peripheries of the organisers’ programme enrich the experience.

For Labin, “art resides in living together”. But, can the Velada Santa Lucía be interpreted as a grand work of art that encompasses space, time and social processes? With a multi-media and performance- based show that seeks to retrieve different aspects of the event in the Biennale di Venezia, we propose to prompt reflections about the concept of the contemporary art work, made up of dynamics of “living together” and sustained by networks of interactions and interrelations between people. Thus, the outside areas of the Venezuelan Pavilion are used to celebrate the Velada Santa Lucía, an extraordinary initiative that on one hand invites research and theoretical debate, and extends, on the other, an invitation to simply explore and be part of it. Long live Clemencia Labin.

Caracas, April 2011

July 15 2011

Federico Díaz: Outside Itself. Robot-Assembled Sculpture at Venice Biennale 2011

Prague-based artist Federico Díaz is known for his work that combines art and technology. For the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in Venice / Italy he conceived a new work that uses sensors and two industrial robots to create a sculpture created from thousands of black spheres. The installation basically consists of two parts: a zone that is scanned by optical sensors that detect changes in ambient light due to the interactivity of viewers, and a production area with two robots that assemble the sculpture according to the data that they get from the sensors.

We met with Federico Díaz at one of the opening days of the Biennale, to learn more about the idea and the technology behind the artwork. The above video is an excerpt. The complete interview is available after the jump.

The exhibition, curated by P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center Founder Alanna Heiss, is titled Outside Itself and runs through September 30, 2011. Outside Itself is an evolution of Federico Díaz’ installation, Geometric Death Frequency-141, which is on view at MASS MoCA through spring 2012.

Federico Díaz: Outside Itself. Robot-Assembled Sculpture at Venice Biennale 2011. Venice / Italy, June 4, 2011.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.

Full-length interview (9:08 Min.):

July 13 2011

July 12 2011

Swiss Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2011: Interview with Thomas Hirschhorn

Thomas Hirschhorn represents Switzerland at the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in Venice, Italy. Shortly before the official opening of the pavilion, VernissageTV’s correspondent Gürsoy Dogtas met with Thomas Hirschhorn to discuss his latest installation.

Thomas Hirschhorn conceived a large-scale installation that completely fills the pavilion of Switzerland in the Giardini di Castello. The title of the exhibition is Crystal of Resistance. It runs until November 27, 2011.

The artist set up a website with extensive information about the exhibition, including statements, sketches, video, book references, related texts, press articles, etc. The site will be online until two months after the closing of the Biennale.

Switzerland also commissioned Andrea Thal to curate a program for the Teatro Fondamenta Nuove. Under the title Chewing the Scenery, the project features the artists Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz, Maria Iorio/Raphaël Cuomo, Uriel Orlow, Eran Schaerf, Tim Zulauf/KMUProduktionen and others. Coming soon: Interviews with Andrea Thal and Uriel Orlow.

Swiss Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2011: Interview with Artist Thomas Hirschhorn. Giardini di Castello, Venice / Italy, June 3, 2011.

Hit the jump for photo set and full-length interview (17:38 Min.)

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.

Full-length interview (17:38 Min.):

July 08 2011

Monica Bonvicini: 15 Steps to the Virgin at Venice Biennale 2011

For the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, the artist Monica Bonvicini conceived a series of three new sculptures. It’s Monica Bonvicini’s third participation in the Venice Biennale.

The title of the series of stairway sculptures is 15 Steps to the Virgin and refers to the number of steps in Tintoretto’s painting La Presentazione della Vergine al Tempio. A pink curtain and two light installations complement the mixed-media sculptures. Monica Bonvicini thereby creates references to both Bice Curiger’s presentation of Tintoretto paintings in the Biennale’s main pavilion in the Giardini and the title of her show, Illuminations. The three sculptures are made of plywood, pressboard, mirror plates, and other construction material. They vary in size and design.

Monica Bonvicini was born in Venice, Italy in 1965. She studied at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin and the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California. Monica Bonvicini lives and works in Berlin. Her work is part of numerous collections such as the ARCO Foundation Collection in Madrid, the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Julia Stoschek Collection, MoMA New York, Museion Bolzano, SMB Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin, and T-B A 21 Vienna.

Monica Bonvicini: 15 Steps to the Virgin at Venice Biennale 2011 at the 54th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia 2011. Arsenale, Venice / Italy, June 1, 2011.

PS: See also: Monica Bonvicini: Bet Your Sweet Life at Max Hetzler Berlin and Monica Bonvicini and Tom Burr at Lenbachhaus Kunstbau, Munich.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.

New: VernissageTV on Huffington Post Arts

VernissageTV’s first post on Huffington Post Arts features Federico Diaz’ installation at the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. The exhibition, curated by P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center Founder Alanna Heiss, is titled Outside Itself and runs through September 30, 2011. Outside Itself is an evolution of Federico Díaz’ installation, Geometric Death Frequency-141, which is on view at MASS MoCA through spring 2012.

Click here for VernissageTV’s blog entries on HuffPost Arts, to become a fan, to get updates and to comment.

Interview with artist Federico Diaz

July 05 2011

Lee Yong-baek: Korean Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2011

Lee Yong-baek represents Korea at the 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. The Korean pavilion showcases works in sculpture, video, photography, and painting by the Korean artist. Lee Yong-baek is known for using and combining a broad variety of mediums and technologies. Lee Yong-baek’s exhibition in Venice is titled The Love Is Gone but the Scar Will Heal.

Even before entering the pavilion, the visitor hears a deafening noise of shattering glass from the inside of the building. The sound belongs to Lee Yong-baek’s work Broken Mirror, showing a mirror that seems to break suddenly after being hit by a bullet. Also on display are the works Pieta: Self-hatred, Pieta: Self-death, Plastic Fish, In Between Jesus and Buddha, and the popular work Angel Soldier. Angel Soldier appears to be a still image filled with bright flowers. A closer look reveals a soldier creeping along in the background, camouflaged by the multi-colored flowers in the foreground.

Lee Yong-baek: Korean Pavilion at the 54th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia 2011. Venice / Italy, June 3, 2011.

> Right-click (Mac: ctrl-click) this link to download Quicktime video file.

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