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

Today was my last full day in Venice since I’m planning an extra-trip for tomorrow – let me surprise you – and Sunday I’ll be heading back to Milan to catch my flight back home.

Look from one bridge at the other – and there are still 433 more to chose from.

Therefore today I did enjoy the city to the max: Eat, Pay, Look.

Commuting like every day from my lovely B&B to Piazzale Roma, for a moment again almost nauseated with awe, I got myself together and crossed the Ponte della Costituzione  – the least charming one of the 435 bridges that are connecting 121 islets and making them Venice.

When travelling, I become sort a traditionalist, frequenting favorite places daily, ordering the same stuff – probably this is some sort of security I like in contrast to the independent way of travelling.

Anyway, next to the railway station Santa Lucia you’ll find a place called “Brek”. In the front part is a bar where you can get coffee and drinks and some sandwiches, slices of pizza – the Italian carbohydrate program. In the back is a “restaurant”. It’s a self service, but e. g. the meat you order is grilled freshly. Then they have some pasta dishes and a salad bar. It’s a tad bit horrible, but I sort of like it, and I like that fact that many Venetians come here because it’s not a tourist trap (although tourist also come here).

Brek in Venice
“Brek” – probably one of the most truly Venetian places.

If you are on a special trip to Venice – like first time to Europe, honeymoon, anniversary, or you have a little extra cash and don’t need to watch your expenses, you might prefer a coffee on Saint Mark’s square that will burn a hole of about 14 €uros in your pocket – and I don’t think that’s a crazy waste of money but I wish you well and hope you’ll enjoy it. I do things like that sometimes: in Havanna I had lunch worth two Cuban monthly salaries – but I absolutely wanted to experience the ‘La Guarida’ restaurant I had seen in a movie.

But I also like folksy cheap, especially since this is my 7th trip to Venice, and while I’m still amazed by the city itself, I don’t spend money on costy touristy things like coffee at fancy cafés anymore.

Alley in Venice
Venetian working class heroes on a break; to me all Venetians are heroes coping with the invasion of 10 millions of tourist every year (plus 14 millions of day trippers)

While the food and especially the drinks in the front part of “Brek” are absolutely ok, I won’t tell you that the hot food in the back is good, because it isn’t. Even though it’s unexpensive, they still achieve a bad price-quality-ratio.
But for a quick snack with a good coffee and free internet access in the morning or a quick Spritz with some crisps and more free internet in the late afternoon – see you at “Brek”.

Roofs of Venice
Roofs of Venice.

From “Brek” it was just a ten minutes…trek (I love this one) to a venue I was looking very much forward to. Today were three great exhibitions on my list – and not one did disappoint me!

Palazzo Mora

Like I announced in the post on Monday, there are different parts of the group exhibition Personal Structures: Open Borders, and today I got to the largest one taking place on three floors of the Palazzo Mora located on Venice’s main street Strada Nova.

Palazzo Mora
Exhibition with a view.
Sculptures by the Slovak artists Robert Szittay (left) and Miroslav Trubač (right)

Guys, almost every one of the works on display would be worth an extended, glorious presentation. Since this is not possible, I picked the following four – but there could have been as well others; there was simply too much to chose from.

Petra Barth

(born 1964 in Germany)

I like the intensity and expression of the faces Petra Barth captures with her camera. Her black and white photos are so classical and the motives just speak for themselves – no filters, no action – just plain photography.

In her work “Mochileros” she shows portraits of people who crossed the border to the United States illegally in search of a better living. The term “Mochileros” is usually used for backpackers – and although these people might have had backpacks, their journey was certainly not a joy ride.

Petra Barth and Se Yoon Park
Petra Barth Mochileros (back)
Se Yoon Park Light Darkness and the Tree (front)


(born 1979 in Bergen/Norway)

Dolk is a pseudonym of this ‘Norwegian Banksy’ – one of the most recognized street artists. Since 2006 he is also represented by galleries.
At the Mora are two of his ‘paintings’ made by staples. Let him inspire you to what to do on a long, boring day at the office…

Two shimmering ‘paintings’
From close you can see that the pattern consists of staples with torn pieces of paper underneath.

Beatriz Gerenstein

(born in Argentina, lives in Miami)

I like about these bags made from bronze that Beatriz Gerenstein criticizes the superficial status symbol of a handbag, but at the same time they are very pretty – actually an object of desire (and after schlepping all my stuff criss cross Venice, I think with a bag like this I’d be much better of).

Beatriz Gerenstein
Beatriz Gerenstein Objects of Desire
Man, a bag like this would save you so much!

Sohn Paa

(born 1967 in Daego/South Korea)

After having been ‘only’ a painter, Sohn Paa is now constructing beautiful objects from acupuncture needles – millions of acupuncture needles!
Just like Dolk’s ‘paintings’, Sohn Paa’s sculptures look great from far – and blow you away when you take a closer look what they are actually made of: there it’s staples, here it’s needles!

Sohn Paa
Three objects – nice looking from far….

Sohn Paa
….amazing from close.

Sohn Paa
An object like this spares the museum a “Please do not sit” sign.

Fondazione Prada

Last Sunday I walked in the rain to the Fondazione Prada in Milan and after today I have to say that the exhibition at their Venice branch is even more impressive – no wonder, they have to compete not only with the Biennale, but also with solo exhibition by Hirst, Hockney and Fabre.

Since 2011, the Fondazione Prada is housed at the Ca’ Corner della Regina, constructed between 1723 and 1728 by Domenico Rossi.

Fondazione Prada Venezia
The raw walls of the old Palazzo make a perfect screen.

Since May 13 and still till November 26 the German multimedia project “The boat is leaking. The captain lied.” is taking place there. Photo-artist

Thomas Demand

– who seems to be the Prada’s pet since in Milan he has one of the very few permanent exhibits – and his compatriot Alexander Kluge (right now featured at the Folkwang in Essen/Germany with a big retrospective of his work) got there respective works staged in a mind-blowing manner by designer Anna Viebrock.

Fondazione Prada Venezia
Doors- one of the installation’s important artsy elements.

Gigantic can be big – it only needs a good idea to fill the space – literally and metaphorically. The Ca’ Corner della Regina is a huge building with lots of space, but three big artists were able to fill it.

Angela Morbelli: Il Natala dei rimasti 
(Christmas of Those Left Behind)
One of my favorite paintings in the whole wide word (www) was the initial ignition for this installation.

They used the quite run down structures for a sinister atmosphere, but built with raw material like plywood and wood rooms in the rooms that, due to the material used, partly deem like crates. But there are these fancy doors – heavy, padded doors. Or mirrored doors. Leading to another room. It’s like a maze. Have you been to this room before? Was the room the same? Slowly you can imagine what Alice must have felt like. The screening of Alexander Kluge’s experimental films makes the whole scenario even more surreal. Then there are Thomas Demand’s images – all constructed from cardboard. Is it a dream, a nightmare, a different reality. Well, it for sure is “The boat is leaking. The captain lied.”, the fantastic exhibition by Thomas Demand, Alexander Kluge, and Anna Viebrock, curated by Udo Kittelmann at the Fondazione Prada. Another must see show.

Palazzo Franchetti

The show “Glasstress” has been one of my favorite exhibitions since I’ve been coming to Venice for the Biennale. It occupies only one floor of the Palazzo Franchetti, but what they show is just overwhelming.

Karen Lamonte at Glasstress
Glass dresses by Karen Lamonte in the majestic hallway of Palazzo Franchetti.

The fact that it’s probably a bit easier to impress with glass – true to the motto: what – it’s possible to do this in glass?! – the fact remains that the pieces shown are just amazing; yap, it’s incredible what the artists can do in glass!

The chandelier is on permanent display, the other pieces are Brigitte Kowanz Vo-Lumen, Josepha Gasch-Muche T.30/12/07, Josepha Gasch-Muche T.11/06/04,  Siggi Hofer Palazzi per tre voci femminili, Tony Cragg Untitled (from second to the left to right)

Sabine Wiedenhofer at Glasstress
Sabine Wiedenhofer Tribeca

Dustin Yellin at Glasstress
Dustin Yellin Plexit

Erwin Wurm at Glasstress
Erwin Wurm: in the front Vater (father), behind Venetian Sausage small (left) and Mutter (mother)
More about Erwin Wurm’s hilarious sculptures and installations in my post about Duisburg.

Chiesa di Santa Caterina

Rachel Maclean

(born 1987 in Edinburgh)

Two years ago at the 56th Biennale I found this church more or less by incident – and was so lucka since there was the truly spectacular exhibition of Russian Grisha Bruskin’s statues in the pitch dark church forming like a grave for the socialist showpieces.

So I expected again something spectacular, although it doesn’t really make sense, but somehow certain venues seem to attract shows of certain quality. And after I’ve seen Rachel Maclean‘s super fun movie on a Pinocchio trapped in a world of pretentiousness and consumption, I believe that Santa Caterina will never deceive me.

Rachel Maclean
I’m only sad that there was so much to see today so that I didn’t have the time to watch the whole movie, but I hope to have the chance to do so very soon, since it was really cool; and the church makes one fine movie theater.

I was thinking today and realized that we art addicts don’t have only the advantage of not being bothered by bad weather when travelling, we also have the advantage to always have a bathroom available. I’m telling you – Viva Arte Viva!

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.

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