57. Biennale in Venice – A Week in September – Wednesday

No visit to Venice would be complete without getting lost in this web of narrow alleys and “sottopassegi”, the low gateways that nobody recognizes as ‘streets’, and bridges that lead to nowhere. One single wrong turn, one bridge which runs parallel to the one you are supposed to take and you are lost for hours! But wait, this cute little store at the corner, isn’t it…nope it isn’t, it never is, it just looks exactly like the other hundred cute little corner stores.

Canal in Venice
Yes, it is a beautiful place to get lost in. But there comes a moment when you wanna know where you are and how to get home.

Today there is at least Google maps so desperate tourists are wandering around with their eyes on their phones instead on big outspread paper maps. Actually I had the impression that they are as lost as they were a couple of years ago, only that they now have to pay roaming charges (whereby since mid of June Europeans don’t anymore). Today I saw a lost family of five sitting on the doorstep of an abandoned building with their luggage scattered around them contemplating where they did go wrong.

However, although I know the rules – take the alleys you’re familiar with, not alternative ‘parallel’ bridge crossing – I turned towards Fondamente Nove, convinced I’d find my way. Well, I did – about 90 minutes and a couple of helpful Venetians later I actually crashed at the Ristorante I remembered to be good and no rip off although right on the Strada Nova.

Alley in Venice with Laundry
Guess there aren’t too many places in the world where you take pictures of other people’s laundry.

Well, unfortunately things don’t always change for the better, and obviously restaurants don’t either. It was bad and overpriced just like any other tourist trap on Strada Nova, so from tomorrow on I’ll be back to Aperitivi for dinner, I’ve learned my lesson.

Besides this exhausting end of the day, I had a great time visiting the Biennale’s nucleus – I Giardini.

Like I wrote yesterday, the first two sections of this year’s structuring are at the Giardini:

I – Pavilion of Artists and Books 

Olafur Eliasson 

(born 1967 in Copenhagen, works there and in Berlin) 

There were a couple of exhibits I liked. There is of course the dominating project of the art world’s pet Olafur Eliasson: The audience is invited to assemble, together with migrants participating in Eliasson’s project, lamps from wood, recycled yoghurt cups, plastic bags and green LEDs. For a contribution of at least € 250 you can take your lamp home. The money doesn’t go into Mr. Eliasson’s piggy bag, but will be donated to a good cause.

Olafur Eliasson
Olafur’s little workshop. There weren’t too many elves there today.

Edi Rama 

(born 1964 in Tirana) 

Olafur Eliasson’s workshop is located in front of wall with a beautifully designed wallpaper – definitely on of my favorite pieces, even not for the motive itself, but for the fact that the artist has been Albania’s prime minister since 2013 and besides being an artist, he’s also a writer and used to be a basketball player. I live in a country where the chancellor used to be a physicist; that’s only hot on ‘The Big Bang Theory’.

Edi Rama
Not only does he run an whole country, no, Edi also finds time to draw beautiful designs on an entire wall.

Ye Liu 

(born 1964 in Beijing) 

At these major art events it’s sometimes so refreshing to see just a neat painting. And Ye Liu’s paintings of books – open and closed – are just neat. I refuse to search for the deeper meaning.

Ye Liu
This is so German: Not only was Rilke one of Germany’s most important poets, the yellow Reclam edition used to be every student’s night mare: All the more or less boring classics had to be bought in this small, cheap edition.

II – Pavilion of Joys and Fears 

While I liked a lot of things at the Pavilion of Artists and Books, the one of Joys and Fears, although one of the most promising titles, did not impress me much.


(born 1934 in Damascus, died 2016 in Germany) 

Eeny meeny I choose you – I pick Marwan since he was a successful Syrian in Gemany…

Selfportrait by Marwan

Kiki Smith 

(born 1954 in Nurnberg, lives in New York and Catskill) 

…and Kiki Smith since I’ve learned about her art by an TV show, which can be seen as pretty embarassing or unusual (it was on ‘The L Word’, and I go for the latter view, just so you know).

Kiki Smith
Kiki Smith’s own hall at the Giardini’s central pavilion.

…and other nice things I saw outside the Giardini:

Pavilion of Ivory Coast 

I must say that my good impression regarding African contemporary arts persists: After the great exhibition I saw at the PAC last weekend, the two African pavilions I’ve seen by now where some of the best collaterali so far.

Jems Koko Bi 

(born 1966 in Sifra / Ivory Coast) 

Jems Koko Bi is participating for the third time in a row – which is for the strong expression in his work and probably also for the very controversial topic of the social and economic situation of
Africans and hence migration.

Jems Koko Bi
To know Jems Koko Bi means to know his boat installations.

Joana Choumali 

(born 1974 in Abidjan / Ivory Coast) 

The photographer Joana Choumali has created one of the best works I have seen at the Biennale by now: Also referring to the topic of immigration, she takes a person out of one photograph of a city and places it in another one. She points out in a very touching way how this person leaves a gap in the original spot and looks out of place in the new one. A very emphatic way of sketching the
problem and a very interesting artistic translation.

Casablanca Miami
Casablanca Miami
Cut out on the left, pasted in the right – and emphasized the image with embroidery.

Abidjan Paris
Abidjan Paris

Personal Structures 

Carol A. Feuerman 

(born 1945 in Hartford) 

I already introduced Carol Feuerman’s swimsuit ladies in my review on the exhibition “Personal Structures” at Palazzo Bembo. At the Giardino della Marinaressa are many more of her ladies – along with a gentleman – and since they are all bathing beauties, outside they look much more in their element.

Monumental Quan
Monumental Quan

Bibi on the BAll
Bibi on the Ball
I’m grateful to the guy who anchored his big-ass yacht right in front of the garden so that I was able to photograph Bibi before an adequate backdrop.

Did I inspire you? Planning on going to Venice?
Get some special advice and detailed information how to get the best for less in the Sunday post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *