MURANO: it’s a crystalline world

(Updated December 2019)

 

Most visitors to Venice stay and explore only the Centro Storico, the historic center, divided into six districts called Sestieri, seeming to form one large island. Albeit, there are said to be a total of 120 islands in the lagoon whereas only 11 are permanently inhabited.

Italy - Murano Island - Vetreria Ducale

Some of the best places to shop for glass on Murano island: The Vetreria Ducale, adorned by a sign of Guerrieri pottery, and to the left the Ferro & Lazzarini glass factory.

The island of Murano is the third largest one – after the Centro Storico and the Lido – and actually consists of seven small islands divided by eight channels and connected by bridges.

World-famous for glass and crystal, Murano is definitely worth the short boat trip from the Fondamente Nove stop; and, while the exhibition Glasstress is on, visiting Murano’s crystalline world is indisputably a must.

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A night at the KAGURA

When travelling, I love to attend folkloristic spectacles – due to the language barrier preferably dance shows: In Kandy on the island of Sri Lanka, I saw a dance show, in Chang Mai in Thailand it even came with a traditional dinner and on Bali I witnessed Kecak in Uluwato and went to see a performance every single night during my stay in Ubud.

Good against evil – a classic in performing arts.

You can imagine my excitement when I found out that on Saturdays, there is a Kagura performance at the Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum. Saturday – perfect, I’ll be in Hiroshima on Saturday; and nothing will hold me back from spending a night at the Kagura.

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HAKONE OPEN AIR MUSEUM – at the height of beauty

Mount Fuji is certainly one of Japan’s most mesmerizing and iconic sights: A perfectly shaped cone, its top coated by a hood of snow – no wonder this sacred mountain is on top of every visitor’s list.

 

Sunnyside up: At Hakone’s outdoor gallery, visitors are invited to become one with the art – literally.

Although on clear days, you can be lucky to spot it all the way from Tokyo, most people take a day trip either to the Fujigoko Fuji Five Lake region at the northern foot of the mountain or to Hakone, a hot spring region with many grand places to experience….like the Hakone Open Air Museum, an outdoor gallery at the height of beauty.

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Biennale di Arte 2019: Tips on How to Visit World’s Most Important Art Event in Venice

Venice is certainly a place worth visiting even when nothing special is on. Venice as such is special
enough.

 

Ponte dell'Accademia Venice Italy
Ponte dell’Accademia, one of only four opportunities to cross the Canale Grande walking, advertising for this year’s mega-event.

However, the Biennials are adding some contemporary suspense and glamour to all the shiny renaissance the Doges left behind, and this summer, the 58th Biennale di Arte is on.

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INHOTIM- Introducing God’s and Other Artists’ Creations

God’s artistic creations – such as flowers and trees – are of genuine, pure beauty, indeed. But in combination with creations by earthly visual artists, they become just marvelous.

Dan Graham’s Bisected Triangle in the backdrop of the lush greeneries. At Inhotim, God’s creations and the other artists’ works go together just so well.

Bernardo Paz, the founder of Inhotim in the outskirts of Brumadinho, is not the first impresario to recognize that.
I’ve been to a couple of other fantastic combinations of Godly and artistic creations, brought together by some wealthy impresarios like Henry E. Huntington’s Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino/Pasadena and Knud W. Jensen’s Louisiana North of Copenhagen. I assure you none of these can compete with Inhotim.


Brumadinho

The venue, officially called Instituto De Arte Contemporânea E Jardim Botânico, is located prima facie unexpectedly in the outskirts of Brumadinho, a village in Brazil’s federal state of Minas Gerais amidst a depressing minors’ region. It is located about 60 km / 37 miles from Belo Horizonte, the capital of the state of Minas Gerais.

Despite its isolated location, it attracts art aficionados from around the world – who are willing to undertake the trip from Belo Horizonte; by car, public bus or organized by a shuttle.

Green, green grass of….Brumadinho.

The district of Brumadinho – this name derives from bruma which translates to mist – was founded in 1923 and populated by miners and their families.
The founder of Inhomit, Bernardo Paz de Mello, was born in 1949 in the very district of Minas Gerais and made his fortune here, Being very attached to this region, he bought land here where he not only installed his ambitious art venue, but also made his home.

Brumadinho and its approximately 20,000 inhabitants gained notoriety this year on 25 January when a tailings dam collapsed which led to a mudflow that buried houses in a rural area near the city. About 186 people were killed.


Inhotim

Inhotim – what an unusual name, right?! It is said, that the land that Bernardo Paz began to buy up once belonged to an Englishman the locals referred to as ’inho Tim – Mister Tim.

The entire complex of Inhotim, so the botanic garden including all the galleries, is spread over more than 20 square kilometers/ about 5,000 acres located in the northern outskirts of Brumadinho. If you are not exactly gimpy, it’s easy to walk there, however, there is also a local bus between the village center and the gardens.

It is a garden Eden with an indescribable variety of different species of extraordinary plants. The number of different palm trees alone…I think there is no plant on earth that’s not represented in Inhotim. Actually, they were even imported from different places in Asia.

Inhotim in Brazil: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Just look at all these different palm trees. The colorful concrete blocks are one of the most photographed work: Invenção da cor, Penetrável Magic Square # 5, De Luxe by Hélio Oiticica

No wonder it is so beautiful since Bernardo Paz got help from the famous landscape artist Roberto Burle Marx to design the premises.

The gardens, too, are meticulously designed: Between around 5,000 species of plants rivers lakes were dug out and creeks are flowing.

This paradisiac plantation alone would make every trip to Inhotim worth the effort. However, the lush gardens are just a rich setting for amazing architecture housing large galleries and white cubes. There are two dozens pavilions with lots of space even for humongous pieces.

So inside and out, there is an exquisite collection of the most outstanding modern art on display: about 500 works by Brazilian and international artists like Yayoi Kusama, Anish Kapoor, or Olafur Eliasson are being shown.

Paz’ complete collection, however, consists of more than 1.300 works.

Inhotim in Brazil: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
That’s how it all started: Deleite by Tunga

Bernardo Paz started buying the land and building his home that he filled with art in the 1980s. He started buying Brazilian modernist art, but only in 1995, he became serious about it – also inspired and motivated by Brazilian contemporary artist Tunga.

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View across one of the beautiful lakes at the Galeria True Rouge where one of the strongest works by Brazilian artist Tunga is exhibited.

Slowly but surely Paz extended his activities until in 2002, he founded Inhotim. However, initially, the institution opened its gates exclusively to certain groups. Only in 2006, it was made accessible to the general public and has since then been visited by about 3 million guests.

Today, everything there is special and beautiful and caring and welcoming: whether it’s the repellent that every visitor can use for free or the little cars that take guests from gallery to gallery.

Inhotim in Brazil: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Usually, I don’t tend to take pictures of repellent, but I think it’s such a great service to offer it to the visitors.

Of course, there is free WiFi, but what’s as important and convenient is the high number of sockets you find all over the place to recharge your phone or camera whenever you need it.

There are water faucets at the visitor’s disposal and many clean bathrooms – smelling of lemongrass!

Inhotim in Brazil: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Some of the water faucets might be already occupied, but don’t worry, the next one won’t be far.

They have a rather fancy restaurant serving an excellent all you can eat buffet for 20 bucks and a cheaper, also buffet style restaurants that’s also good, but more like a cafeteria.

Inhotim in Brazil: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Even the cheaper cafeteria is set up really nicely and with the vertical blades, it’s like outdoor eating with a great view.

In addition, there are a couple of snack and fast food stands. Some shady places – and at a botanic garden like this you find a lot of shady places – are equipped with extraordinary seats made of raw wood.

Of course, there is a gift shop where you can stock up on original souvenirs.

Perfect place for a short – or longer – break: A bench, carved from a huge tree trunk, placed under…a huge tree.
(Photo: Otávio Nogueira from Fortaleza, BR, Inhotim (26164690911), CC BY 2.0)

You can easily spend the entire day there. And that’s what I did without any symptoms of museum fatigue.


Thinking Big and Falling Deep

So yes, the place has a size of 5,000 acres, the collection consists of 1,300 works – think big is definitely Bernardo Paz’ motto. The mining magnate likes to emphasize that he was planning the museum for the next 1,000 years. Well, living in Germany, I must say that people here would get very suspicious hearing this: In the last century, Europe’s experience with over-ambitious men planning for 1,000 years was quite unpleasant

But his over the top gigantomania is not the impresario’s biggest flaw.

Sadly, he doesn’t seem to always live up to his ideals: The man who became a billionaire through a network of mining and steel companies has been accused of breaking a series of environmental laws. Furthermore, he benefited from child labor and according to governmental investigations of ‘slave-like’ working conditions in one of his plants.

Finally, in 2017, Paz was convicted of money laundering and sentenced to nine years of jail.

To keep Inhotim’s name clean, Paz stood down from his position as a chairman of the board of directors.

So while the fact that he’s being convicted of money laundry is even a tad bit funny since it’s such a Latinamerican cliché, the accusations of having damaged the environment – which had a terrible impact on people’s living conditions – and abused his workers are more than disappointing.

Inhotim in Brazil: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Somehow this work created by Adriana Varejão, Paz’ fifth wife, is a great metaphor: As you break the white tiled wall, you discover all the ugly intestines.

Although I still think that Inhotim is a fantastic project, the allegations against Paz do give it a negative connotation. It’s a bit like when you find out that a singer of beautiful, soulful love songs is a child molester – things get tainted.



My eight favorite galleries

But like I said – heaven is a place on earth, and this place goes by the name of Inhotim.

Obviously, I cannot introduce all of the 500 pieces. And to cherish them, you have to see them in person, anyway. So I show you some of my favorite pieces – and hope you like them so that you put Inhotim on your list when visiting Brazil.

Inhotim in Brazil: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
At Adriana Varejão’s pavilion, it’s all about tiles – and be prepared for some bloody disturbing sights.
Together with eight of his friends, the artist Jarbas Lopes traveled in the three cars of his work Troca-troca from Rio de Janeiro to the Museu de Arte Contemporânea do Paraná in Curitiba.

Tunga - Inhotim in Brazil: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
True Rouge looks like an assembly of giant hearts – and not the Valentine-kind of hearts.

Inhotim in Brazil: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
The installation of sculptures called The Sleeping City looks like a three-dimensional painting by Joan Miró. It has been created by Czech artist Dominik Lang who uses parts of his father’s work, the sculptor father Jirí Lang, referring to the history of Czechoslovakia under Soviet occupation.


Inhotim in Brazil: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
It’s not by accident that Swiss-born photographer Claudia Andujar has one of the largest galleries all to herself: Although her photographs are less flashy and spectacular than some of the other works, her pictures of the Yanomami Indios are extremely powerful.


Yes, exactly, there are no intestines, no blood, sweat, nor tears, there are just sumptuous gardens in natural colors, combined in an untamed way – these are the painting by Luiz Zerbini. This one is called High Definition and I like it a lot since it is like a portrait of the plants at Inhotim gardens.
Cildo Meireles’ installation Através is the perfect example for why extremely spacious galleries might be needed: The dimensions are  600 x 1500 x 1500 cm – or more than 236 x 590 x 590 inches; nuff said?!

The installation I am not me, the horse is not mine by South African artist William Kentridge consists of eight film projections which were completed as the artist’s preparatory work for a production of Dmitry Shostakovich’s satirical opera The Nose at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.


My eight favorite sculptures and installations


The pavilions are spacious so that even gigantic artifacts can be exhibited. However, there are pieces so humongous and heavy that they have to be outdoors. 
Here are my favorite outdoor sculptures and installations.
 Invenção da cor, Penetrável Magic Square # 5, De Luxe by Hélio Oiticica
Bernadete Amado, InhotimPorBernadeteAmado, CC BY 3.0
Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden consisting of 1,500 mirrored stainless steel spheres, was also exhibited at London and New York in 2018.

Inhotim in Brazil: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Outdoorsy art by Edgard De Souza – being untitled gives it a pretty long title: Sem título, 2000; Sem título, 2002; Sem título (Bronze 5)

Zhang Huan
Gui Tuo Bei

Inhotim in Brazil: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
Jorge Macchi’s Piscina ran out of Ns.
The pools – this one outdoors and the indoor pool at Galeria Cosmococa – can be actually used by the visitors.

Inhotim in Brazil: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
“Wait”, the weather god said “Chris Burdon’s Beam Drop Inhotim looks even more dramatic in the backdrop of dark clouds.” This sculpture is made of 72 steel beams dropped 45 meters from 150-foot-high cranes into a pit filled with wet cement.

The admirer reflected in the admired: Taking a picture of Cristina Iglesias’ open-air gallery Vegetation Room

Inhotim in Brazil: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
And another artsy selfie: Standing in Dan Graham’s Bisected Triangle taking a picture of my reflection and the incredible view. 


How to get there

By public bus: A one-way ticket from the central bus station in Belo Horizonte to the town center of Brumadinho costs R$ 22,15. There are buses at 7 a. m., 11 a. m.  – on Sundays, this bus leaves already at 10 a. m.! – and 3 p. m.  The ride takes about 90 minutes and you can buy your ticket also in advance through the Saritur website.

John Ahearn’s sculptural murals are showing you where to arrive: At the Rodoviária de Brumadinho, the bus station of Brumadinho

Once you arrive at Brumadinho, you can either take a cab, a local bus, or you just walk. From the village center, it’s about 20 to 30 minutes.

On weekends and holidays, Saritur offers a shuttle service from Belo Horizonte and back. It leaves at 8:15 a. m. from the central bus station and gets to Inhotim at 10 a. m. The fare is 41 R$. In the afternoon, the coach leaves Inhotim at 5:30 p. m. and arrives in Belo Horizonte at 19:25 p. m. – this trip costs – for what reason ever – only 37 R$.

There is also a shuttle service organized by the Inhotim people that theoretically serves the venue every day except Mondays. However, on Tuesday, Thursday, and Fridays, there have to be at least four passengers. You can make reservation sending your name and phone to inhotim@belvitur.com.br
or through the website www.belvitur.com.br. If you have questions or want to make sure that the service is available, you can call + 55 – 31 – 32 90 91 80.
Generally, the coach leaves Belo Horizonte at 8:30 a. m. and goes back depending on the closing hours, i. e. 4:30 p. m. on weekdays and 5:30 p. m. on weekends and holidays.

Roundtrip costs 66 R$, only return 35 R$.

Only return has to be bought at Inhotim and is, obviously, subject to availability.


Opening Hours and Admission

The gardens and galleries are open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 a. m. to 4:30 p. m. – Saturdays, Sundays and holidays to 5:30 p. m.

Entrance fee for adults is R$ 44.00 (13 US$), kids from 6 to 12 have to pay half price and if they are younger than 6, entrance is free; and so is the entrance for everyone else on Wednesdays (except for holidays).

Inhotim in Brazil: bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels
If you are ambitious to learn more about all the exotic plants, just let an expert guide you through this Garden Eden.

If you want to use the shuttle carts, you have to pay an extra 30 R$. Especially if you have only one day, you might want to save time by taking advantage of this service.

Charter of a private cart for up to 5 people 500 R$ (150 US$) per day or 200 R$ (60 US$) per hour.

Since Summer 2018, you do not need to have proof of yellow fever vaccination to visit Inhotim. However, to save yourself from disappointment, you might want to check their website or inquire directly regarding the status quo short before visiting.

INHOTIM
Rua B, 20
Brumadinho
Phone: + 55 – 31 – 35 71 97 00
Email: info@inhotim.org.br 


Where to spend the night

Honestly, there is no reason to spend the night at Brumadinho since there are all these convenient options to get to Inhotim just for the day. However, if you prefer to book accommodation there than in Belo Horizonte, I can recommend Hostel Hari due to its proximity to the venue: A ten minutes walk, and you’re there.
Another upside of this place is that the hosts are very kind. They have rooms of different sizes, but the bathroom always has to be shared with other guests.
Nonetheless, it won’t be the poshest place you’ve ever stayed at.

Check out Hostel Hari’s availability and rates*

Wanna read more about great places and impressive art in Brazil? Then quickly go to this post and take your pick!


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Disclaimer: I appreciate that Inhotim did support me by granting free entrance and use of the shuttle carts. However, all opinions on these services are mine and weren’t by any means influenced by my cooperation partner. 

*This is an affiliate link. If you book through this page, not only do you get the best deal, I also get a small commission that helps me run this blog. Thank you so much for supporting me!

The Voice of Colors: Rita, Eduardo, and Jorge in Rio

Streetart is becoming more and more not only tolerated, but recognized and promoted. Especially in South America, it has a long tradition – as a medium where colors give the people a voice.

#favelismo – an art movement turning poverty and humiliation into power and pride. That’s what great street art stands for.

I’m introducing Rita Wainer, Eduardo Kobra, and Jorge Selarón, three of the greatest urban artists that left ineradicable traces in Rio de Janeiro.


Street Art

Eduardo Kobra


Rita Wainer


Jorge Selarón



Street Art

Street art is, obviously, an artwork in public locations where the artist does not only speak his mind, but often also for its people. Although there are pieces commissioned by private property owners and investors, many of the murals are created illegally – and therefore artists choose to remain anonymous or work under a pseudonym. The most famous enigmatic urban artist is undoubtedly Banksy from the British city of Bristol.

Street artists do not only decorate walls and things, they also use them as props. Probably the most famous pieces made in this style were created by Lithuania-born Ernest Zacharevich whose name is inextricably linked with Penang Island in Malaysia.

Streetart such as murals did not derive from graffiti – just think of Mexican muralists like Diego Rivera who worked long before the invention of spray cans – but are sometimes connected and combined. Especially the illegally working artists use spray paint, stencil, posters, and stickers – because they can be quickly applied – before the cops enter the scene.

Canned art.

Streetart often carries a social or political message – and sometimes it just doesn’t, especially when the pieces are commissioned by private investors. Is this a sellout? I don’t know. Obviously, there are different approaches to urban art.

Nadie gana – nobody is winning; a pretty clear message stenciled on a wall in Bogotá.

I personally enjoyed the urban art in Colombia the most since it is wild, anarchistic, angry and rebellious.  Compared to Bogotá, much of Rio’s street art is quite tamed; however beautiful and interesting and therefore, let me tell you the story of three ingenious artists.

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Rita Wainer

Rita Wainer, born in 1978 in São Paulo, the cradle of ingenious artists and Brazil’s hub to phenomenal art, was a highly aspiring Brazilian fashion designer when she decided in 2013 to move to Rio de Janeiro and give up soft fabric for hard bricks and rough earth, i. e. becoming a visual artist. And come to think of it, the step is pretty congruent since fashion can totally be considered urban art.

“The city is ours” – a clearly feminist mural by Rita Wainer in her home city São Paulo.

Rio de Janeiro – it actually was in January 2013 that Rita opened her internet store where she’s selling her sculptures – straight from her ample flat close to the Copacabana, without any middlemen, but with great success: During the first three years, she had sold 1,000 pieces – or like she puts it in an interview:  Pelé’s thousand goals.

There is a lot of passive aggressiveness in Wainer’s portraits: Her ladies are always alone, sort of defenseless.

The resourceful variety of her works – illustrations, painting on tiles and places – and, of course,  walls – is less surprising when you look at her hyper-artistic genealogy: Everybody in Brazil knows some Wainers – be it Rita’s mother, artist Pinky Wainer, be it her grandparents, actress and model Danuza Leão and her husband, publisher Samuel Wainer – just to mention the very close family.
Keeping up with the Wainers?
No way, Rita follows her own path and does not want to be seen as a clanswoman with a golden spoon in her mouth.

No smile, never.

Although Rita Wainer’s murals are just one niche of her artistic activities, for obvious reasons, it’s the most conspicuous.

Don’t mess with her: A Medusa-like female holding a poniard.

She’s painting girls. Skinny girls in bold, unshaded colors. Fragile beings with serious facial expressions. When they look at you, their glance is piercing – hardly any expression.
Often they even don’t look at you, turn their head away from the beholder in oblivion. Maybe haughtiness. Never fear.

Female marine: yearning and love – I keep waiting for you. This mural is also at the Boulevard Olimpico, not far from Kobra’s Etnias.

Although these girls are so skinny and deem so airy and fragile, there is something very fierce to them; maybe it’s the black outlining, maybe the pointy outline….in any case, take their prickly gaze as a warning….never to mess with them.

Wanna check out Ria Wainer’s online shop? Click to open its doors.

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Eduardo Kobra

Yes, him, too: Born in São Paulo in 1975, to be precise in the poor neighborhood of Garden Martinique. Therefore no descendence from a dynasty of artists. However, with over 500 works painted all over Brazil and 17 other countries around the planet, Kobra is one of world’s most famous muralists.

But yes, he started as subversive as almost every urban artists, as an illegal tagger. He got arrested three times for his passion. Illegal? Sure! Talented? Well, one judge was so impressed by Kobra’s talent that he sentenced him to….paint a mural on the wall of a police station!

Sentenced to paint? Not in this case: This work at Congonhas Airport in São Paulo is based on a photograph from the 1950s and is not pure decoration but also meant to be a tribute the Brazil history.

Eventually, in the 1990s, Kobra was given the chance to make some money with his art by designing posters and painting toy sets. Here, too, his talent was quickly recognized and the jobs got better and more professional. Which is actually very admirable since Eduardo Kobra got no professional training whatsoever.
His asset is exclusively his talent.

Today, Kobra is mostly famous for his hyper-realistic portraits of famous people, painted over graphic patterns of geometric shapes in bold colors.

LGBTQ-friendly mural at the Parque Ibirapuera in São Paulo.

He paid tribute to great Brazilians such as architect Oscar Niemeyer and racing driver Ayrton Senna.

Ayrton Senna on a wall at the Lapa district in Rio. Senna died at the age of 34 died in an accident at the San Marino Grand Prix. 

Anyway, slowly but surely he paints his way around the globe by paying tribute to historically important personalities such as Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein, Anne Frank, Mahatma Gandhi, and Malala Yousafzai. But also Bob Dylan in 2015, David Bowie in 2016, and in 2017 John Lennon were perpetuated in Minnesota, Jersey City, respectively  Bristol, Banksy’s hometown.

No, Kobra is not as angry and rebellious as the young men at the Candelaria in Bogotá. However, he’s not oblivious to what is going on in his country and thematized social and political problems such as the construction of the reservoir dam in Belo Mento – destroying the living environment of the indigenous people.

Mural Belo Monte in the city center of São Paulo.

Yes, but how about the awareness for the concrete jungle? In 2016, Eduardo Kobra was invited to create a gigantic mural: Las Etnias, Ethnicities, measures over 32,000 square feet and made it to the Guinness Book of Records. Of course, today, three years later, it has been exceeded at least twice.

Higher, faster, farther – very few Cariocas had a reason to celebrate the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. It was a good example of how gigantomania can totally fail – and therefore, for me, it’s really difficult to celebrate an artistic project that was commissioned with the same spirit of gigantomania. However, nobody can dislike the idealist idea of we are all one people that’s behind it, so here are the five panels to be admired at the Boulevard Olimpico:

Starting on the mural’s left side with a Mursi woman from Africa,….
…. followed by a Kayin woman from Myanmar / Asia.
A Tapajós Indio from the Americas is the central portrait.
To his right an indigenous man from Europe….
…and a Huli from Papua-New Guinea / Oceania.

Eduardo Kobra does not have an agent or manager and can be contacted through his website.

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Jorge Selarón

The Cristo, the sugar loaf, these ‘colorful stairs’ – together with the world famous beaches of the Copacabana and Ipanema, it’s these three points of interest that every visitor to Rio de Janeiro puts on his to-do-list.

Surprisingly – and sadly – not many of these visitors know about the man who created those stairs, the world-famous Escadaria Selarón.

An eclectic mix of tiles and pieces of china.

It was Jorge Selarón, a painter and ceramist, born in 1947 in Limache, Chile.

Selarón led a pretty restless lifestyle: He had passed through 57 countries before he moved to the Lapa neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro in the 1980s; right next to the stairs that eventually should make him famous – and become his death place.

Upper tile from Berlin, lower tile from Portugal.

After having made a living from selling paintings in restaurants all over the city, Jorge Selarón had begun decorating the 215 stairs connecting Lapa with the Santa Teresa neighborhood with ceramic tiles in 1990.

Flags from African countries in the upper row, musicians who left a great artistic legacy in the lower row.

He considered this sort of a Sisiphos work a tribute to the Brazilian people.

Decorating the stairs, in the beginning, he used tiles and porcelain donated by his friends and supporters. Eventually, people from all over the world contributed by supplying him with tiles. Today, you find the most incredible – and slightly absurd – motives there. More than 2000 tiles from over 60 countries were processed.

As French as can be: A camembert cheese and a group of Breton women.

It took Selarón twenty years to complete his work – whereby he did not consider it finished. However, the stairs were declared a city landmark in 2005 and Jorge became an honorary citizen of Rio de Janeiro.

A wild mix of faiences.

In a documentary from 2010, the artist explained that the stairs would be finished only the day of his death.

En 2010, Selarón concluyó la imponente bandera en la parte alta de la escalera, en la esquina de la Calle Pinto Martins.

Sadly, this day came unexpected and far too early: On January 10, 2013, Jorge Selarón was found dead on the stairs, not far from his home.

The police did not rule out homicide since he had received death threats by a former co-worker. However, friends of Jorge’s claimed that he was depressive so that suicide might have been a possible cause of mortality.

Wanna read more about Rio de Janeiro and urban art in Brazil? You might enjoy these posts:


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Büdelsdorf Revisited – bye:myself at the NordArt 2018

(Updated August 2018)

The NordArt is a very nice art event – of course, not to be compared to the documenta, let alone the Biennial in Venice. But yes, they show a great variety of international art and has been one of the largest exhibitions of contemporary art in Europe. So I like it.

Apart from the annual changing exhibitions, some of the works – especially the sculptures in the gardens – stay for longer…like this NICHTS-sign – by the way, nichts means nothing and is therefore exactly the opposite of what you actually get to see at the Kunstwerk Carlshütte.

What I actually love about the NordArt is the location: Büdelsdorf! Even for German-speaking people, this name is quirky and fun and sounds like someplace for rednecks in gumboots clomping over the fields checking if the potatoes are good to harvest yet.

Size Doesn’t Matter

Actually, Büdelsdorf – by the way, ‘Dorf’ means village, this already tells you a lot – is sort of a suburb of sort of a small town in Northern Germany, a bit over 100 km / 62 miles from Hamburg. If you happen to go to Denmark by train, you might have a whistle stop there – otherwise, I’m afraid that people who live more than five miles away have never heard of it.

Welcome to Büdelsdorf – home of international art….and international cuisine (note the ‘restaurant’ to the right)

So the fact that an art fair takes place on a regular basis at this suburb of a small town is quite hilarious. Of course, there is a story to it:

In 1827, the foundation of the iron foundry Carlshütte was the first industrial plant of the duchies Schleswig and Holstein; today the federal country of Schleswig-Holstein.

After the long trip out here and an extended visit, one can enjoy a snack or some homemade pastry at the cozy ‘Alte Meierei’, the Old Dairy.

As it was finally closed down in 1997, the huge premises with the foundries and the historic living and management quarters were acquired by Mr. Hans-Julius Ahlmann, an associate at the globally operating ACO group. He initiated the Kunstwerk – artwork – Carlshütte where now concerts, lectures, film screenings, theater plays, and, obviously, exhibitions are taking place.

The NordArt

Since 1999, every summer the NordArt takes place and became one of the largest European shows of contemporary art.

Casey McKee Irrational Exuberance
This artist has been a great discovery at this year’s NordArt: Casey McKee comes from Phoenix/Arizona, but is living and working in Berlin. I really like the impression of his photo-based paintings and hope to get to see more of his work.

Every year, there is an open call. 3,000 artists from 105 countries from all over the world applied for the NordArt 2018.

Another painter that impressed me quite a lot is German Petra Sabine Anders. A bit in the style and tradition of Lucian Freud, the characters she’s depicting do certainly not meet our ideal of beauty anymore, but their appearance seems to tell fascinating stories; Anders insinuates this also in her titles: The Dancer (left) and And in Greifswald He Played the Just (right)

The jury has chosen 200 artists that now have the chance to show their paintings, photographs, videos, installations, and sculptures at….Büdelsdorf; it doesn’t get old.

Now, this is totally bizarre: At first glance a normal collection of butterflies,….
….but as you take a closer look, you see that it’s all heavy military equipment such as submarines, helicopters, and tanks; upside down and mirrored.
Rotem Ritov, an artist from Israel, not only made these ‘critters’, she also classified and labeled them accordingly.
Rotem Ritov Monarch Migration 

If you think, wait a minute, isn’t this year as special on?, you are absolutely right: The NordArt celebrates its 20th anniversary; and I personally hope that there are many more to come.

Gilles T. Lacombe Everything Must Go
Monsieur Lacombe always showed some pretty installations, but the one he’s presenting us this year might be the most disturbing one so far. I don’t know, somehow it’s the year of creepy over there in….Büdelsdorf.
(Photo: ⓒNordArt2018. Michal Gabriel) 
Finally something not that disturbing, however not shallow: Five gigantic pens by Kemal Tufan from Turkey.
Pen With Books, Pen With Poem, Pen With Gasmasks, and Pen With Reading Glasses.
If you know what the last one is made of, please drop me an info.
Although Kemal Tufan has been another good discovery, it’s not really surprising. On my travels to Turkey, I’ve seen so much fresh and daring contemporary art that my expectations regarding Turkish artists got very high.

Update: Beginning of August 2018, the NordArt released a very informative and inspiring video on the making of this mega event.

 

The Country Focus

The NordArt isn’t just a random exhibition. They have a very elaborated and inspiring concept: Apart from the ‘regular’ show, every year, they put the focus on a particular country.
This year’s Country Focus is on the Czech Republic.

František Matoušek aka Francis de Nim Františka.
Painting his hyper-realistic portraits on torn denim gives them an unexpected appearance.
Michal Gabriel Eye To Eye
Michal Gabriel Birth of Venus
(Photo: ⓒNordArt2018. Michal Gabriel) 

However, Czech artists are widely introduced at the Kunstwerk Carlshütte, anyway. Besides the old factory buildings, there is a huge garden filled with truly outstanding sculptures and installations, and many of those are made by Czech sculptors.

Permanent exhibition of sculptures at the very spacious gardens: Jiří Štaněk Divan

Many of these masterpieces are at Büdelsdorf for good – although some ogres seem to shuffle them around a bit between summers.

In 2016, Liu Ruo Wang’s iconic work Original Sin 2011 – 2013 was displayed as one of the center pieces on the big lawn of the Carlshütte’s park.

In 2017, Ruo Wang’s ape-men were looking up into the sky at the bus stop in front of the Carlshütte’s main entrance. I wonder how they put these iron cast sculptures there – assuming that they did not walk across the street by themselves.

By the way, I really love to see some stuff from the previous year again along with all the new art they gather.

The Focus Artist

Besides the Country Focus, there also a Focus Artist – who by a pure incident, in 2018, happens to be a Czech sculptor; e. g. in 2017, the Country Focus was Denmark and the Focus Artist was Czech enfant terrible David Černý.
Anyway, this year’s Focus Artist is the sculptor Jan Koblasa who sadly passed away last year. The Kunstwerk Carlshütte honors this artist who was highly involved in the NordArt’s conceptualization, organization, and activities.
Jan Koblasa and his unique form of sculpture – raw and at the same time very tender – will be dearly missed.

Lying in state: Lenin, Mao, Hitler, Stalin.
Jan Koblasa: The Demons of the 20th Century
In the front La Traviata II, in the back Adam and Eve with the Snake
While at the special exhibition in Jan Koblasa’s honor only his wooden work is being shown, in the garden, there is a permanent iron cast exhibit called Wailing Wall 

The Chinese Connection

Another recurring segment is the presentation of Chinese artists – organized for years in cooperation with the Chinese embassy and some Chinese culture institutions.

This year, however, the Chinese participants are presenting rather…quirky to creepy artwork – especially XIANG Jing’s sculptures are pretty disturbing.

It’s not because of the nudity, it’s the style that makes this arrangement eerie.
 XIANG Jing Are A Hundred Playing You? Or Only One? (Series Naked Beyond Skin)
But also LIU Fei’s painting series Women & Guns is not particularly dainty (this one is No. 29).

Once more the macabre group – in front of an even more terrifying wallhanging by ZHANG Dali Man and Beast.
Yet another jolly bunch of ladies, depicted by LIU Fei Women & Guns No. 30

The Visit

If you are interested in visiting this outstanding show this summer and need more information, you’ll get all the relevant info here.

The Cheap and Comfortable Daytrip

You get to Rendsburg by train from Hamburg in less than 90 minutes, from Berlin in about 3,5 hours (via Hamburg). From the train station, it’s 15 minutes walk to the Kunstwerk Carlshütte.

Here’s a special tip for you Germany-travellers: For about 25 Euro you can travel an entire day by train within every federal country; but you are only allowed to take the regional trains, not IC or ICE. The best part is: each further person pays only 4 Euro, up to 5 persons can travel on one regional day ticket. Due to its central position, Hamburg is automatically included in three tickets (Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg Western Pomerania, and Lower Saxony (that includes also Bremen)). Büdelsdorf is in Schleswig-Holstein, and the day ticket for one person is 28 Euro.

If you like the idea of the NordArt, you might wanna check out last year’s post on the NordArt 2017.

If you like to pin this post, please use this picture:

United Colors of B…iennale

Hard to believe that it’s been already one month ago that I’ve been to Venice on the occasion of the 57th Biennale. Time passes so fast. But it’s a good moment to look back on this marvelous and inspiring visit and show you my favorite works so you save time in case you join the final sprint: The Biennale is on till November 26!

John Waters
One of John Waters‘ three boards why studying art.

I put together my very personal collection of the works that I liked the best. I’ve left out some of the pieces that I’ve already introduced during my daily Venice-posts “…a week in September” and although I’ve sorted the works by country, they are not necessarily from the designated country pavilion.

For instance France: At the Giardini’s French pavilion is an exhibition by Xavier Veilhan, but I liked french-born Kader Attia’s installation at the Arsenale much better so I included that one for France. When I like a certain national pavilion and then particularly liked another artist and piece from that country as well, I included both – like I did for instance with Albania.

It’s a good moment to present this international lineup, since it’s only a retrospective for me – you can still go, the Biennale doesn’t end before November 26, 2017.

Big advantage: prices for accommodation and many services and goods are much lower than in summer, but I still recommend to check in addition my post on how to get more for less on your trip to Venice.

In total I’ve chosen 50 works. To make it more convenient for you, you can get to every country by clicking on the name in the following list:

Albania (Pavilion) Albania (bye:myself’s favorite) Andorra (Pavilion) Antigua and Barbuda (Pavilion) Argentina (Pavilion) Argentina (bye:myself’s favorite) Australia (Pavilion) Austria (Pavilion) Belgium (Pavilion) Bolivia (Pavilion) Bosnia-Herzegovina (Pavilion) Canada (Pavilion) Chile (Pavilion) China (bye:myself’s favorite) Czech Republic/Slovakia (Pavilion) Denmark (bye:myself’s favorite) England (bye:myself’s favorite) France (bye:myself’s favorite) Germany (bye:myself’s favorite) Grenada (Pavilion) Guatemala (Pavilion) Hongkong (Pavilion) Hungary (Pavilion) Israel (Pavilion) Italy (Pavilion) Ivory Coast (Pavilion) Japan (Pavilion) Korea (Pavilion) Kosovo (Pavilion) Latvia (Pavilion) Lebanon (bye:myself’s favorite) Macao (Pavilion) Mexico (Pavilion) Monaco (Pavilion) Mongolia (Pavilion) New Zealand (Pavilion) Peru (Pavilion) Poland (Pavilion) Russia (Pavilion) Russia (bye:myself’s favorite) Scotland (Pavilion) Serbia (Pavilion) Singapore (Pavilion) South Africa (Pavilion) Switzerland (Pavilion) Taiwan (Pavilion) Tunisia (Pavilion) Turkey (bye:myself’s favorite) Turkmenistan/Kazakhstan (bye:myself’s favorite) United States of America (bye:myself’s favorite)


Albania


Albania at the 57 Biennale
Three blurry paintings by Leonard Qylafi from the series Occurrence in Present Tense


Edi Rama
Edi Rama 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’.



Andorra

Eve Ariza
Eve Ariza named her installation Murmuri (Mutter). Each of the clay bowl has its own ‘voice’.


Antigua and Barbuda

Frank Walter
Frank Walter was not only a painter, he was also a poet and writer. To honor that I took a picture of his old typwriter in front of his naiv, very Caribbean paintings.

Argentina

Liliana Porter
El hombre con el hacha y otras situaciones breves (The man with the axe and other short situations) Oh, el hombre con la hacha is a mean little man – and it’s amazing how you can change the scenery by just looking at it from different angles. This work by Argentinian artist Liliana Porter is in my personal top ten; for its originality and its beauty.

Liliana Porter
A teeny tiny lady is fishing in a sea of…chiffon.
Every single exhibit is made in such a ingenious fashion, every single one is a tender tale.
These installations are like illustrations of life.

Liliana Porter
Hardworking little lady – sweeping the fiery red dust. (The figurine is maybe 1.5 inches tall)

Claudia Fontes
The horse problem by Claudia Fontes at the Argentinian pavilion. Although it’s also meant to be poetic, it deems rather tacky – and it’s well beaten by Liliana Porter’s elaborated perspective and esthetics.

Australia


One of the many, many pieces referring to refugees coming ashore is the installation Vigil: using sequences from old Hollywood movies and documentary shots of refugees, Tracey Moffatt lets the film stars suspiciously observe the refugee’s arrival.


Austria

Erwin Wurm
I already pointed out a couple of times how much I like Austrian enfant terrible Erwin Wurm; but to see his – admittedly iconic – One Minute Sculptures yet again…well….I enjoyed his “Drinking Sculptures” – and actually the entire exhibitions –  on my art trip to the Ruhr much more.

Belgium

Dirk Braeckman
It’s funny – Dirk Braeckman is a reversed Gerhard Richter: While at Richter exhibitions people get really, really close to check whether the painting is not a photograph, at this show people get really, really close to check whether the photos are not actually paintings.

Bolivia

Bolivia
Bolivia participated for the first time in the Venice Biennale and presents artists Jose Ballivian, Sol Mateo and Jannis Markopoulos. Maybe it’s because of the debut that the topic is very ambitious and serious thematizing the development and tension of Latin America in relation to the Northern countries. 


Bosnia-Herzegovina

Safet Zec
Safet Zec: Exodus – scenes depicting different scenarios of refugee and the hardship of migration, painted in the narrative fashion of the old masters like e. g. Tintoretto or Veronese. Every single of these tableaus at the Chiesa de la Pietà tells you a story on the protagonists’ hardship and destiny.

Canada

Geoffrey Farmer

Since the Canadian pavilion has to be renovated, anyway, Geoffrey Farmer was free to arrange his destructive yet fun – and literally refreshing – installation A way out of the mirror like a demolition party. Water fountains are exploding entraining everything around.

Chile

Bernardo Oyarzun
Bernardo Oyarzun – from the Mapuche indian tribe himself – is pointing in his installation Werken the oppression of Chile’s indigenous population. 1000 ceremonial masks, made by 40 Mapuche indians, are standing in the center surrounded by 6907 illuminated still existing Mapuche family names.


C
hina


Guan Xiao‘s video David is ironic and hysterical. It sketches the sell out of national art symbols like the David statue from Florence – to be found on cups and towels and T-Shirts and degenerating to be piece of tacky decoration or a marketing scheme. Showing this film nowadays at the Biennale where everybody is running around consuming art, taking pictures without even looking at the works is a slap in everyone’s face; my cheek is burning, too.

Czech Republic and Slovakia

Jana Zeliska
“Plavala husička po dunaji” – there was a goose swimming on the Danube river with her goslings in tow. Seeing Jana Želiská‘s installation, this old Czech children’s song came to mind – although hers are swans: Swan Song Now. And yes, that’s all that there is with this work, and Želiská was criticized for the banality of her installation.


Denmark

Olafur Eliasson
The audience is invited to assemble, together with migrants participating in Ólafur Eliásson‘s project Green Light – An artistic workshop 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. Eliásson’s piggy bag, but will be donated to a good cause.


England

Paul Benney
Especially at this year’s Biennale I realized what an adequate art venue churches are: the light, the sound, the atmosphere – all this puts the works into a special space. And Paul Benney, creator of somber paintings (he calls them night paintings), shows his impressive chiaroscuro paintings Speaking in Tongues in the murky Chiesa di San Gallo.


France


This Installation by Kader Attia is simply genius: Voices from female Arabic singers make sand vibrate in glass globes. And it actually works only with the voices, it does not vibrate when there are e. g. instruments. Absolutely fascinating! And a clear feminist message, too.


G
ermany

Fiete Stolte
Although the German entry by Anne Imhof even won this year’s Golden Lion prize, I cannot include her since unfortunately I didn’t get to see it. There was only one performance the day of my visit and as I got there it was already over.
So I pick Fiete Stolte‘s copper feet on raw wood called Printed my Steps. I discovered Stolte only recently, but must say: way to go, Fiete (pun intended).


G
renada

Jason de Caires Taylor
There were many really good works at the pavilion of Grenada – many beautifully Ocean related. But I picked Jason de Caires Taylor who created the first under water sculpture park off the West Coast of Grenada in 2006. Especially since this year Damian Hirst causes a sensation with his exhibition ‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable’ – irritatingly similar to de Caires Taylor’s much older project that in addition was meant to raise awareness for the endangered oceans.



G
uatemala

Sabrina Bertolelli
Sabrina Bertolelli, one of about a dozen artists exhibiting at the pavilion of Guatemala, ‘plants’ unique CONTEMPORARY-FLOWER…!, indeed. 


H
ongkong

Samson Young
Too bad it’s not possible to show the crazy, colorful, hysterical installation Songs for Disaster Relief by Samson Young. Installed in tacky sitting areas songs like “We are the World” or “Do They Know it’s Christmas” are blaring from tube TVs while lights are flashing in bright colors – it’s a zoo; and it’s great!


H
ungary

Gyula Varnai
I guess Hungarian artists don’t have it easy – just like e. g. Hungarian journalists. So why not sticking with peace? It deems political yet doesn’t offend anybody – everyone likes peace, it’s safe. Peace on Earth by Gyula Várnai deems a bit haphazardly, yet I liked the rainbow made of these tacky socialist breast pins.

However, the art nouveau facade of the Hungarian pavilion is at least as nice as the art shown inside.


I
srael

Gal Weinstein used rather unusual materials like mildew, stale coffee and sugar to decorate the pavilion of Israel. It’s said that the installation Sun Stands Still is a critique of civilization – I don’t know, I just found it unusual and interesting how something usually considered ugly all of a sudden becomes beautiful and decorative.


I
taly

Roberto Cuoghi
Jesus industries – from creation to decay: It’s huge, it’s creepy, it’s art; it’s Imitazione di Cristo by Roberto Cuoghi


I
vory Coast

Joana Choumali
Photographer Joana Choumali lets people migrate from one place to another by cutting and pasting. This way she points out in a very touching way how these individuals leave gaps in the original spots and look out of place in the new one. A very emphatic way of sketching the problem and a very interesting artistic translation.


J
apan

Takahiro Iwasaki
Spoiler Alert: Before entering the Japanese pavilion to see Takahiro Iwasaki‘s installation Turned Upside Down, It’s A Forest, make sure to climb the ladder underneath and stick your head in the hole. I don’t tell you more.


K
orea




Cody Choi
Cody Choi decorated the Korean pavilion’s facade so you can’t miss it – and cannot avoid it, either. His Venetian Rhapsody – The Power of Bluff is as flashy as can be.

Lee Wan
The absurdity continues inside with Lee Wan‘s work For a Better Tomorrow amidst Proper Time – Though the Dreams Revolve with the Moon


K
osovo

Petrit Halilaj
Petrit Halilaj‘s wallpaper installation Abetare made of old school books also made it from the Biennale to the exhibition Art and Alphabet in Hamburg. 

Latvia

Mikelis Fisers
The motives are downright crazy and that they are lustrous woodcarvings makes the whole appearance even more wacky. Thank you, Mikelis Fišers, for your exhibition What can go wrong, based on tin foil hat theories.
We have for instance Giant Grasshoppers Massacre Tourists by the Pyramids of Giza
Mikelis Fisers
…or The Last Yeties Protest Against CO Emmission by the Great Wall of China


L
ebanon

Huguette Caland
Of course it’s daring and a feminist act when Lebanese artist Huguette Caland paints nudity and public display of affection on traditional Arabic clothing.


M
acao

Wong Cheng Pou
All sculptures of Wong Cheng Pou‘s A Bonsai of my Dream are very tender and poetic. The one where two guys actually carry the one in the middle through the wall is my favorite.


M
exico

Carlos Amorales
For his installation The Life in the Folds, Mexican Carlos Amorales developed his own alphabet (interestingly the clay letters are pipes) and arranges the letters on big white tables to a story of immigrants; in the video screened in the back the letters come to life and tell a refugee story, too.

Monaco

Michel Blazy: Foret de Balais
Michel Blazy recycles. And by recycling he creates art. In Venice he planted a Foret de Balais, a broom forest.


M
ongolia

Chimeddorj Shagdarjav
A very artistic alternative to swords to ploughshares: just turn them into graceful cranes like Chimeddorj Shagdarjav did: I’m bird – a truly inspiring installation.


New Zealand

Lisa Reihana
When it isn’t about migration and refugees, it often is on colonisation (also some sort of migration, though) and oppression of native culture, customs and traditions just like in Lisa Reihana‘s video installation Emissaries.


P
eru

Juan Javier Salazar
A banner denouncing the leak of progress referring to ‘mañana’ was made by Juan Javier Salazar, calling it sarcastically Land of Tomorrow. Salazar sadly died last year at the age of 61.


P
oland

Sharon Lockhart Little Review
Well, to be honest, the exhibit is not that great, but anything that puts Janusz Korczak and his wonderful and sacrificing work for children into focus deserves at least to be mentioned. Sharon Lockhart arranged her installation around the newspaper by and for children called Little Review initiated by this great man.


R
ussia

Grisha Bruskin
They remind me of the first epic films from the twenties – the deployment of the masses, the esthetics of the totalitarian, the scary play of lights and shadows, Grisha Bruskin arranged his scenes in an extremely theatric fashion.

It’s certainly the interaction between the abandoned, ruinous hall and the screening of a door obviously moved by the breeze filmed by Vadim Fiškin. Together this creates an atmosphere of slow, poetic decay.

S
cotland

RachelMcLean
In Rachel Maclean‘s super fun movie Spite Your Face Pinocchio is trapped in a world of pretentiousness and consumption.

Serbia


Dragan Zdravkovic
On the facade is still written ‘Yugoslavia’ and inside three artists are showing their work at the Serbian pavilion. I’ve picked two extremes: Dragan Zdravkovic‘s ironic, hilarious self-staging…

Vladislav Scepanovic
…and Vladislav Šcepanovic‘s upsetting compositions that he calls ‘Political Pop Art’, depicting – in the fashion of traditional pop art – logos and slogans on one hand, on the other horrific scenes from the world’s trouble spots.


S
ingapore


Zai Kuning
With the sizable ship Zai Kuning focuses on the Malay ethnicity: the orang laut, water people, living on and of the water – nowadays of course endangered by pollution and tourism. Dapunta Hyang: Transmission of Knowledge reminds of the former emperor Hyang.

South Africa

Candice Breitz
Also dealing with the topic of migration, Candice Breitz‘ installation is one of the most touching works: Hollywood stars Julienne Moore and Alec Baldwin are sitting in front of a camera telling atrocious stories of their escape, the way across deserts and waters. In the adjacent room you can see the real narrators on screens. Puzzling effect, that the actors’ tales touch you partly more.


S
witzerland

Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler
Called after his work Women of Venice that he showed in 1956 at the French pavilion, the Swiss pavilion is all about Giacometti: Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler are showing simultaneously two films dealing with Giocometti’s love affair with American artist Flora Mayo – which is controversial given the fact that Giacometti denied all his life to participate in the Biennale at the Swiss pavilion and now there is shown this work of high intimacy.

Taiwan

Tehching Hsieh – One Year Performance 1980 – 1981 (Time Clock Piece) from FACT on Vimeo.
 


Tehching Hsieh is famous for extreme long term performances. This is a video on his project One Year Performance 1980-1981 (Time Clock Piece): Over one year he hourly clocked in and took a picture. Hourly. Day and night. Looking back at his project he stated that “wasting time is my concept of life (…) Living is nothing but consuming time until you die.”


Tunisia

Tunisia - The Absence of Paths
I love art that invites me to participate. Whereby I still wonder what happened to me participating in Adrian Piper’s project The probable trust registry from 2015 – never heard from again.
Anyway, at the Tunisian pavilion you had to answer a couple of questions and were then supplied with a Universal Passport. The Absence of Paths – a beautiful idea – and we Germans are lucky to have such a universal passport, and it’s not only an art project…


T
urkey

TRUE-TREU Argun Dagcinar
One of the most surprising exhibitions was Synesthesia by a team of Turkish designers. Neither the design exhibition at the Palazzo Michiele nor this Turkish section are officially part of the Biennale, but the works by the team TRUE-TREU – exclusively dealing with immigration and refugees – are so unique that a place in this list is well deserved.
A Life Vest? by Argun Dağçınar is the most flashy piece.


Turkmenistan / Kazakhstan

yelena vorobyeva and viktor vorobyev
Shhh, the artist is asleep: At the ‘Pavilion of Artists and Books’ the bi-national couple from the Caucasus Yelena Vorobyeva and Viktor Vorobyev installed a…sleeping artist. 

United States of America

 Sheila Hicks Escalade Beyond Chromatic Lands?!
Art that speaks for itself: Shown at the ‘Pavilion of Colors’ – what could be more iconic than Sheila HicksEscalade Beyond Chromatic Lands?!




?

So these are some of the highlights. During my week in Venice I’ve posted daily about my artwalks. You can follow my steps here:

BASEL – time to wonder, time to wander

Note: Before it drives you completely bananas, you can turn off the music, that’s supposed to guide you through my 24 stops slide show, on the first of the two slide show windows in the 24 stops – the Rehbergerweg-section below.

Basel has 175,000 inhabitants and is – after Zurich and Geneva – Switzerland’s third largest city (I know that this will crack up all the Chinese readers of my blog). And just like its ‘big sisters’, Basel prides itself to have one of world’s highest quality – and of course also costs – of living.

One thing that I absolutely love about Basel is the thing that I absolutely love about Europe: It is located in the tri-border area of Switzerland, Germany, and France. Now Europe has a quite high number of tripoints: Austria has nine, Germany seven, and Switzerland six.

There is an airport which is actually located in Basel, but has exits to Mulhouse in France and Freiburg in Germany, too. So at this connecting point you just have to pick the correct door to step out into one of three different countries.

Basel along the river Rhine on bye:myself
Cosy little Basel in the heart of Europe. There are a couple of art venues and many interesting buildings and places
along the river Rhein.
(Photo: © Basel Tourismus)

And ‘connecting’ is key here: These borders connect, they don’t divide. It doesn’t matter if you choose the wrong airport exit, you won’t get threatened, you won’t get harmed. I’m sure this is quite different at the tripoint let’s say between Israel, Jordan, and Syria.

So I find the beauty of the European idea reflected in this tri border area.


BASEL

Basel is Swiss, so it’s wealthy, mainly known for its chemical and pharmaceutical industry. But it’s also famous for its art scene – primarily for the annual art fair Art Basel, organized i. a. by Ernst Beyeler (we’ll get to him later) and carried out for the first time in 1970. This event is more about the money and less about the art – that it takes place now in Miami (since 2002) and Hongkong (since 2013) just underlines its commercial value; it’s an art shopping spree.

Fortunately Basel has much more visual treats to offer than this art zoo.

Kunstmuseum Basel

The Kunstmuseum Basel owns an enormous collection of drawings, prints, and paintings from different art epochs – from the Old Masters to modernism and contemporary art.

Gerhard Richter Tizians Verkündung bye:myself
Some of the highlights – and my personal favorites – are the five paintings by Gerhard Richter adopting Tizian’s  “Annunciation” and letting the motive blur and vanish more and more from tableau to tableau. But even in the last one, being just a blur, you still recognize the motive’s notion.
(Photo: ©Martin P. Bühler/Kunstmuseum Basel)

Amazingly they’ve started their collection in 1661, so no wonder they had to find an annex in 1980 (see below) and another one in 2016. This one is architecturally so unusual and fascinating that there are special guided tours only dealing with the building; it was designed by local architects Christ & Gantenbein.

Neubau Kunstmuseum Basel bye:myself
Concrete, marble, steel – grey in grey. It’s huge, it’s unusual, it’s fascinating; it’s not very inviting.
On the wall “The true artist” by Bruce Nauman, overflown by a sculpture by Jonathan Borofsky.
(Photo: ©Julian Salinas/Kunstmuseum Basel)

 

New building Kunstmuseum Basel bye:myself
Minimalistic art in the tunnel between the old building and the new annex.
(©Gina Folly/Kunstmuseum Basel)

Initially the collection was housed in the neo classical building and the contemporary works were outhoused to the modern gallery just about one mile from the museum on the banks of the river Rhine. Since the new museum part was finished in 2016, the contemporary pieces are shared between the two buildings.

What’s a bit unusual is the ticket booth on the outside of the main building; it’s like a hole in the wall, probably cool and modern but not very inviting. But like they say: don’t judge a museum by its…ticket booth.

Kunstmuseum Basel (main building)
St. Alban-Graben 16
4010 Basel
Phone: + 41 – 61 – 206 62 62
Email: Andrea.Saladin@bs.ch

This museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. (Thursday 8 p. m.)

 

Kunstmuseum Basel / Gegenwart bye:myself
The first extension ‘Gegenwart’ – on the banks of river Rhine, about a mile from the main building in the city center.
(Photo: © Julian Salinas / Basel Tourismus)

Kunstmuseum Basel | Gegenwart
St. Alban-Rheinweg 60
4052 Basel

These galleries are open from Tuesday to Sunday 10 a. m. to 6 p. m.

Museum Tinguely

Once you’re at the ‘Gegenwart’, it’s just a very short – and very pleasant – walk getting to the Museum Tinguely on the other bank of the river. Cross the river at the Schwarzwaldbrücke, i. e. “black forest bridge”, but despite its name, don’t expect it to be very romantic, and you’re practically there.

Tinguely was a sculptor of the ‘nouveau réalism’ and the most important protagonist of the kinetic art. You’ll finde some of his most original and ingenious pieces here at the museum – along with works by his wifes Eva Aeppli and Niki de Saint Phalle.

At other museums you’re even not supposed to touch the art. Not so at the Tinguely – here you can even walk upon the sculptures.

The Tinguely collection is shown in a museum building that is a piece of art in itself; like surprisingly many museums in Switzerland. Since the museum is located in a beautiful park and right on the banks of river Rhein where there’s one of the many ‘badis’ – public swimming spots along the rivers, typical for Switzerland, you can practically spend an entire day in this area.

 

There is – literally – fresh art by Jean Tinguely already outside the museum.
(Photo: © Museum Tinguely)
Fünf Witwen - Eva Aeppli
Next to his fantastic objects, there are also works by his first wife Eva Aeppli (here: Five Widows) at the museums….

 

…as well as his second wife, sculpture superstar Niki de Saint Phalle Gwendolyn
(Photo: © Museum Tinguely)



Museum Tinguely
Paul Sacher-Anlage 1
4002 Basel
Phone: + 41 – 61 – 681 93 20

Opening hours Tuesday to Sunday 11 a. m. to 6 p. m.

You don’t need to go to the museum to enjoy Tinguely’s art (although it’s absolutely worth it), you can see it at the park, but there is also one object at Basel airport, and there is the wonderful “Fastnachtsbrunnen”, i. e. the Mardi Gras fountain in the center of Basel next to the theater and just at a stone’s throw away from a really excellent vegetarian restaurant, the Tibits.

 

Jean Tinguely Fastnachtsbrunnen
(Photo: © Basel Tourismus)

The Tibits is a chain restaurant with branches in many Swiss cities and since 2008 one in London, too. It’s a self-service, super-fresh and super-yummy – and to Swiss standards it won’t burn a whole in your wallet.

Tibits
Stänzlergasse 4
4051 Basel
Phone: +41 – 61 – 205 39 99

Email: reservation.basel@tibits.ch

They are open Monday to Friday 7 a. m. to 11.30 p. m. (Friday 12 a. m.), Saturday 8 a. m. to 12 a. m. and Sunday 9 a. m. to 11 p. m.

Schaulager

The Schaulager is one of my favorite art venues worldwide; for the breathtaking art collection and its smashing presentation in the stupendous building. Many superlatives in one sentence, yes, but by far not enough to describe this magnificent place.

Already the entrance is special: You have to walk through the small house to the right to enter the large exhibition halls on the left.
(Schaulager Ⓡ Münchenstein/Basel, Photo: Tom Bisig, Basel)

 

At the extremely unadorned, plain white building, illuminated by neon tubes, there’s enough space for the art’s appearance.
(Schaulager® Münchenstein/Basel, Sammlung der Emanuel Hoffmann-Stiftung, View of a storage room 
Photo: Jonas Kuhn, Zürich)
Some of the most imposing installations I know are by Robert Gober Untitled, 1995–1997 (see also my post on an art weekend in Milan – the Pradas like him, too, and gave him two storeys at their Hunted House)
(Emanuel Hoffmann-Stiftung, Depositum at the public art collection Basel (permanent installation at the Schaulager Basel)
© Robert Gober, Photo: Tom Bisig, Basel)

 

Katharina Fritsch (born 1956 at Düsseldorf), famous i. a. for her monochrome larger than life-size sculptures. One of her best known installations, the Rat King
(Emanuel Hoffmann-Stiftung, Depositum at the public art collection Basel (permanent installation at the Schaulager Basel)
© 2016, ProLitteris, Zurich, Photo: Ruedi Walti, Basel)

The only thing that I hate about this place is that it’s not open during regular hours: It’s open according to its exhibitions, so you have to check their website thoroughly before going or it will be a big disappointment.

Schaulager
Ruchfeldstrasse 19
4142 Münchenstein / Basel
Phone: +41 – 61 – 335 32 32
Email: info@schaulager.org 

From June 1, 2017 till October 27, 2017: David Claerbout
Olympia (The real-time disintegration into ruins of the Berlin Olympic stadium over the course of a thousand years)
Thursday, Friday, Sunday 1 p. m. to 6 p. m.

The venue can be visited on appointed dates, please contact the gallery or check their homepage.

Museum der Kulturen

Before I leave you to explore all the small galleries at this art mecca, I’d like  to introduce you to this anthropological museum which is much more than the dusty masks and statues you usually find at this sort of place.

(Photo: © Basel Tourismus)

The Museum der Kulturen unites the dusty masks and statues with other anthropological and geographical as well as social and economical aspects. Completed by temporary special exhibitions it’s certainly one of the venues that should be on top of your to-visit-list.

Museum der Kulturen Basel
Münsterplatz 20
4001 Basel
Phone: +41 – 61 – 266 56 00
Email: info@mkb.ch

Open Tuesday to Sunday 10 a. m. to 5 p. m. (every month’s first Wednesday open till 8 p. m.)

This Museum is very centrally located just around the corner of the Basel cathedral (“Münster”), the “Pfalz”, a gravel square overlooking the river Rhine on one side and the somewhat flashy town hall on the other – so the perfect spot to visit before, after, or during your sightseeing.


RIEHEN

And then you can take tram #S6, that takes you in a little over 20 minutes to the municipality of Riehen which is with 20,000 inhabitants – now hold your hat – the second largest community of Northwest Switzerland (by now the Chinese are rolling on the floor laughing).
Riehen would be just another Swiss hicksville if Hildy and Ernst Beyeler (see, I’ve told you I’ll get back to him) haven’t installed their wonderful art foundation right here.

Fondation Beyeler

The building was designed by Renzo Piano (if you are a loyal and attentive reader, you’ll remember Signore Piano from my piece on 24 hours in Paris where I’ve introduced him as the co-architect of the Centre Pompidou). Hildy and Ernst Beyeler are sharing their collection of about 250 pieces from the classical modernism as well as contemporary art such as Degas, Cézanne, Monet, Rousseau, van Gogh, Warhol, Lichtenstein and Bacon, to mention just a few, with the visitors of their magnificent bungalow.

Fondation Beyeler
(Photo: © Mark Niedermann/Basel Tourismus)

 

Thomas Schütte Hare at Riehen
In the Beyeler’s backyard you’ll find a little something like a huge sculpture by Thomas Schütte Hase (hare)

In addition there are highly interesting temporary exhibitions taking place and the Beyelers are pleasantly open to outstanding performances like in 1998 when Christo und Jeanne-Claude wrapped up the trees in their lush garden.

So when you are already amazed by the Beyeler’s venue, you’ll be blown away be the ‘Rehbergerweg’ that begins right in their front yard.



Fondation Beyeler
Baselstrasse 101
4125 Riehen/Basel
Phone: + 41 – 61 – 645 97 00
E-Mail: info@fondationbeyeler.ch

Open on 365 days per year – Monday to Sunday from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m. (Wednes to 8 p. m.)

 

24 STOPS – the REHBERGERWEG

Tobias Rehberger, born 1966 in Esslingen, is famous for his objects and installations that often serve a practical purpose. Besides many other acknowledgement, in 2009 he received the ‘Golden Lion’ for designing the decoration of the central pavilion’s cafeteria.

Tobias Rehberger Cafeteria in Venice
Cafeteria at the Giardini, one of the two central venues during the art biennals in Venice, designed by Tobias Rehberger.

I’ve mentioned him before when I got to see his “Slinky Springs to Fame”-bridge in Oberhausen.

Along the five kilometers / 3.2 miles stretching from Riehen in Switzerland to Weil am Rhein in Germany, he installed 24 very practical and handy pieces of art such as beehives, streetlamps…and even a rubbish bin.

The first twelve markers were mounted in September 2015, and in June 2016 the 24 stops were completed.

As soon as the stops were there, I took a walk along the ‘Rehbergerweg’, and it was awesome:

Done with the Swiss part? Here goes the German part of the Rehberger trail:

Yes, it’s ironic that Swatch, a watch manufacturing company, supports this project generously. Swiss watches – it’s such a cliché! By the way, there of course is a (S)watch now, designed by Tobias Rehberger.

Renata Green on the Vitra Campus
Getting there! It was such a great hike.

 


WEIL AM RHEIN

 

I believe that out of 100 Germans 95 have never heard of Weil am Rhein. In fact this town at the German side of the border has only a little over 30.000 inhabitants and nothing special, but…an art campus, housing not only the Swiss Vitra furniture and store interior factory, but several great design exhibitions, presented in halls created by some of world’s greatest architects:

Canadian architect Frank Gehry, born in 1929 in Toronto, designed in 1989 the Vitra design museum as well as the smaller annex, the gallery, and the factory building, actually Gehry’s first building in Europe.

Vitra Museum by Frank Gehry
The museum’s building by Frank Gehry.
Claas Oldenburg Balencing Tools
Next to Claes Oldenburg’s Balancing Tools – no worries, they are pretty stable.

Two more factory buildings are created by Englishman Nicholas Grimshaw, born 1939 in London, and another one by Álvaro Siza, born 1933 in Portugal. In 2014, Mr. Siza also designed a promenade connecting the older part of the campus with the newer one.

In 2012, there was another factory building added, this time designed by the Japanese architect team Kazuyo Sejima, born in 1956, and Ryue Nishizawa, born in 1966, who team up by the name SANAA.

Tadao Ando, born in 1941 in Osaka, designed in 1993 the conference pavilion on the campus which was Ando’s first building in Europe.

The worldwide renown architect superstars Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, both born in 1950 in Basel, designed the VitraHaus where Vitra’s sales show takes place in 2009 and added in 2016 the ‘Schaudepot’.

VitraHouse
VitraHaus: Showrooms for some fine pieces of furniture and interior design – shop and cafeteria included.

 

schaudepot at vitra
Another great building by Herzog & de Meuron.

This depot is now an extremely posh warehouse containing about 7.000 pieces of furniture, more than 1.000 lamps as well as archives and estates of Verner Panton, and Alexander Girard (who recently had a big solo exhibition at the design museum) and Charles & Ray Eames.
The American power-designer-couple Charles & Ray Eames was of major importance for the Vitra factory since its successful story as a high class manufacturer of furniture and interior design began in 1957 with the Eames’s designs.

Note: Since Vitra is celebrating its 60 years anniversary with the Eames’s, there will be major exhibitions and all sort of special events this year, so make sure to check out their website, which is worth a glance, anyway, since it’s so nicely set up and very informative.

Zaha Hadid, born in 1950 in Baghdad, designed the ‘station house’ in 1993, which was her first building ever.

station house at vitra
The exciting architecture of the station house by Zaha Hadid

 

Carsten Höller Slide

But besides the more or less useful and ‘serious’ building, there are also structures like e. g. the ‘Dome’ built after Richard Buckminster Fuller, now serving the purpose of an assembly and event hall, or the gas station by Jean Prouvé.
Renzo Piano – here he is again! – contributed a stylish little shack, the ‘Diogenes-house’: on very frugal 6 square meters is everything one does need to live comfortably (everything but space that is, but this is coming from my malicious tongue. Of course it’s the idea and the design that counts, and both are just wonderful!).

You can see all these architectural treasures on this map – many info included.

Carsten Höller, born in 1961 in Brussels to German parents, contributed – as often – a playground piece for adults and kids alike: a 17 meters high slight tower.

Even the bus station next to the Vitra campus is not by the regional bus company, but by the outstanding furniture designer Jasper Morrison, born in 1959 in London.

But if you need to get back to Basel, you don’t take the bus. Just catch tram #8 at the station Dreiländerbrücke (now try to pronounce that, my American friends) – the tri country bridge.
Little tip: There’s a small shopping mall next to the tram stop so you might wanna stock up on refreshments since Germany is much cheaper than Switzerland.

And then the bell rings, the doors close, and off you go back to Switzerland.

For me, this whole trip is particularly funny since I’m first flying from Germany to Switzerland, than I’m crossing the border walking back to Germany – and at the end I have to get back to Switzerland to fly home to…Germany.

Europe is a great place!

VitraHaus / Vitra Design Museum
Charles-Eames-Strasse 2
79576 Weil am Rhein
Phone: + 49 – 7621 – 702 35 00

The venue is open daily from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m.

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

So it’s Sunday, the last day of my wonderful week – mainly – in Venice. Over the past few days I’ve mainly posted on all the art that I’ve seen and left most of the touristy stuff aside.

Venice

But after I’ve been coming here for a while now, today – as a little souvenir – I’ll share some recommendations and little tips with you.

I will not tell you that there is a Saint Mark’s Square to be visited, the campanile to be climbed and many canals to be rowed. All this and much more will be written in every guide book, website, or even the smallest brochure.
I’ll make you savvy and show you how to get more for less.

Getting to Venice

Train

If you are already in Italy, you’ll probably get to Venice by train. I find that trenitalia offers a really good service at reasonable prices. Maybe it’s because of that that trains tend to be very full, especially the regional ones. The only recommendation I’d like to give you here is to travel as light as you can to be more comfortable.

Mind you there are two train stations in Venice: Mestre on the main land and Santa Lucia at the historic center. Trains between these two stations are going very often, so if you accidently get off at Mestre, it’s no biggy, the next train will be there in a couple of minutes.

If you chose to find an accommodation at Mestre, and there are a couple of reasons why this is a smart move, you can get by (regional) train to Santa Lucia in about ten minutes, and the ticket costs 1,25 €uro.

Often it’s better to get there by bus, though, since not every B&B or hotel is close to the trainstation. We’ll get to that later.


Flight

If you fly into Venice, you’ll land at Venezia Marco Polo airport. From there you have to options to get to the historic center – either by bus to the bus station Piazzale Roma or – and that’s a great way if you’re accommodation is at the historic center – by the Alilaguna boat. Especially on a sunny day it’s just dreamy and actually the first beautiful sight of your beautiful vacation – crossing the lagoon by boat with the view of this unbelievable place.
Alilaguna stops at various stations around the island and then goes to the Lido. So it’s recommendable to check where you’re staying and get off near that spot.

ACTV Vaporetto in Venice
Unusual arrival at an unusual city.

And if you’re not staying at the historic center? Then you can still go by boat, but in this case I recommend you to get off at the Cruise Terminal (blue line) and cross the ponte della Costituzione to the train station Santa Lucia where you can leave your luggage and start exploring the city right away.

Especially during the summer months the storage is often full so you have to either wait or chose another ‘consigne bagagli’: there are stores willing to store your stuff for a little fee and there even are various locker rooms at different spots in the center. But be aware that these places close much earlier than the one at the station.

Of course you can also go back to the airport the same way, but mind you the space on the boat is limited and if it’s full, it’s full. After a couple of days in Venice I can comfortably go back to the airport by bus and take no risk.

If your accommodation is not at the historic center and you do not want to leave your luggage but go there right away, taking the bus from the airport might be a better option for you: There’s an airport shuttle going straight to Mestre and you’ll reach every other spot from there.

Accommodation

Prices for accommodations are much higher from March till September. In November, I paid a fraction of the high season’s price. And of course during the ‘unattractive’ Winter months the city is much emptier than in Summer – but it’s never ’empty’. I personally experienced the least amount of tourists end of February after the carnival – but then there also might be acqua alta, which means you have to walk on wooden planks which is fun only for about ten minutes, and the city is pretty grey. But when you’re ready to experience the melancholic side of Venice in a relatively empty city at unbeatable prices, end of February does the trick.

Venezia
This view is exclusively reserved for guest who stay at the historic center; but it also has its price.

If you are coming during high season, you still have the option to stay out of the historic center on the Venetian main land like the city of Mestre or even farther away like Quarto d’Altino.
Italy has a extended and reliable system of public transport so it will be quite easy commuting into the historic center and back, I’ve done it a couple of times myself.

The closest and best accessible place would be Mestre. You can get to Venice Santa Lucia from there by train for €uro 1,25. But there are also many busses going every couple of minutes for € 1,40, which might be even faster and more comfortable since you’ll probably stay in a residential area.

Bus in Venice
When in Venice, do like the Venetians do: Commuting in full busses.

Mestre is less expensive, but it’s not cheap since the trick staying ten minutes away from Venice is not so very genius, hence hosts in Mestre know what they can ask from you.

You can also go farther away e. g. to Quarto d’Altino, a charmless place less than half an hour by train from Santa Lucia. Surprisingly there are a couple of hotels like the Holiday Inn Express in that area. Anyway, the trains to and from Venice go every 30 minutes and one trip costs €uro 3,40. It’s not a great option, but it’s an option just the same (I did it twice on really short stays. Commuting all the way out there for a longer time might be unnerving.)

You’ll find accommodations in the urban fringe on the usual hotel sites and privately run B&Bs on www.bedandbreakfast.it.

Exploring

Like I said, I will not tell you that there is the Doge’s palace and the Rialto bridge to be visited.

But I tell you that you can visit sights on a cheaper price and without waiting in line by buying e. g. the Museum Pass that grants you free entrance to the 11 most important state museums and palazzi in Venice. The best way to get it is ordering it online, so even there you save time.

Venezia
Hope this article helps you being on top of things in Venice.

On my first trip to Venice I did the whole show with taking the Vaporetto (ferry-bus) and all that jazz. Since you’re paying €uro 7,50 for a single ticket, you might understand that it lost it’s charme quite quickly and I’m walking – especially since taking the Vaporetto is another great opportunity spending your vacation waiting and queuing. But if you want to take the Vaporetto, and I perfectly understand that you do, you might not want to buy single tickets but day passes that cost ‘only’ 20 €uro for 24 hours, 30 €uro for 48 hours, 40 €uro for 72 hours, and 60 €uro for a week (which is a really good price, very similar to what you pay in big cities for day passes for ordinary public transport).

The whole somewhat confusing price policy of ACTV, the local transport company, is to find on their website.

Gondolieri
Row row row the boat…

You can also combine your activities and the travels on one tourist card, the Venezia Unica City Pass, where you add online activities and the a. m. ACTV-passe and then print it out before you arrive.

Young people between 6 and 29 can get a Rolling Venice Card that grants them reduced entrance fees and cheaper Vaporetto tickets and more (kids under 6 years of age don’t have to pay, anyway).

So now it’s up to you to do your math – good luck!

Like in most other touristy cities there’s a free walking tour in Venice, too.

Although it’s very touristy, indeed, on a sunny day an organized trip to the other Islands like Murano with its glass artisans, the fishing village of Burano with its lace industries and the great church houses of Torcello is just beautiful.


Eating and Drinking

You might have noticed by now that I am very passionate about art – but also about churches and temples, streets and squares. Although I like cooking and love food, when travelling I consider it a waste of time – unless it’s a highly authentic or in some way special place.

So this sitting around at a restaurant for an hour just to stuff face to me is a waste of time. And in Italy they are especially chilled about serving, here you learn where the word ‘waiter’ must stem from: you wait for him to bring the menu, you wait for him to take your order for drinks, you wait for him to come back with your drinks, you wait for him to take your order for food – and it goes on and on till you wait for him to finally take your money. I can’t stand it.

Fortunately Italy is street and fast food heaven. I’m not talking burgers’n’fries here, I’m talking juicy pizza, fat-dripping focaccia or sandwiches with prosciutto di Parma; everything that’s guaranteed vitamin free and rich in carbohydrates. So having a piece of heaven for lunch while pacing to the next museum and in the evening an epic aperitivo and I call it a happy foodie day.

Here are the top places in Venice for my kind of diet:

Pizza

It’s hard to find bad pizza in Italy, and many of the stands that sell a slice of pizza for about 2,50 to 3 €uro will be even excellent. The best one in Venice is definitely Rizzo on strada nova. Their pizza comes in long stripes and is covered with the finest toppings like gorgonzola and nuts, quattro formaggi whereby the formaggi are like triple of the dough, all sorts of prosciutto and veggies – it’s fantastic. They also sell other treats like tarts and sandwiches and at the opposite counter a variety of cakes and pies. Everybody finds something he falls for at Rizzo.

Pizza
Just look at these toppings!

Rizzo Pane
S. Leonardo
Cannaregio 1355
30121 Venice
Phone: + 39 – 41 – 71 83 22
Email: info@rizzovenezia.it

Tramezzini

Do you know “Tramezzini”? They are triangles of soggy, unroasted toast, but that doesn’t matter since the bread is only the wrapper of the delicious fillings. The fillings are not a thin layer like on a sandwich, not, they are a big heap of of the finest Italian delicacies: prosciutto, egg, gamberi (shrimps), carciofi (artichokes), radicchio, you name it. To help the shredded stuff holding together, they are stirred with just the right amount of mayonnaise to a heavenly mixture and then bedded between two slices of toast. It’s good that the toast is mushy because it makes room for the filling.

Tramezzino
One lonely tramezzino. They are called tramezzini – plural! – since you cannot limit yourself to just one:
Look at this rich, juicy filling of crabmeat!

I limit myself to three pieces in one meal, but let me tell you, the choice is a toughie.

The juiciest tramezzini are waiting for you at

Bar alla Toletta
Via Dorsoduro 1191
30123 Venice
Phone: +39 – 41 – 520 01 96

Tramezzini
Bar alla Toletta = Tramezzini-Heaven

Aperitivo

I don’t really get the aperitivo concept, but I still love it. Why I don’t get it? Because an aperitiv is soppused to tickle your fancy for a complete meal. It Italy the aperitivo is a complete meal – and in comparison darn cheap: at the non over touristy places you pay between €uro 5 and 8 for an aperitivo that includes a glass of something like a Spritz and a small buffet with all sorts of niblets. Sometimes it’s only bruschetta, but sometimes it’s really fancy stuff like tomatoes with crab stuffing or some nice pasta.

Aperitivo Taverna Remer
A light aperitivo-buffet.

The nicest aperitivo place in Venice is Taverna al Remer. You can either sit in their rustic restaurant or you take your booze and snack outside, sit at the canal and enjoy life.

Taverna Al Remer
Cannaregio 5701
30121 Venice
Phone: + 39 – 41 – 522 87 89
Email: taverna.remer@yahoo.it



Taverna Remer

Another really nice place – although located very exposed on the strada nova – is the Cantina Vecia Carbonera right at the corner of the bridge over Rio Terà de la Maddalena.


Aperitivo
Finest snacks at the Cantina Vecia Carbonera:  a fine little meatloaf (upper left), a melanzane parmigiano, a piece of bread with gorgonzola and nuts, and a piece of stuffed squid on polenta – and a glass of Spritz.

Cantina Vecia Carbonera
Cannaregio 2329

30121 Venice Phone: + 39 – 41 – 71 03 76

Restaurants
So you insist on having a seated meal? Okay, there are some good options at Venice that are not a complete rip off.

Osteria alla Vedova
Cannaregio 3912
30121 Venice
Phone: + 39 – 41 – 528 53 24


Rosticceria San Bartolomeo/Rosticceria Gislon
Sottoportego della Bissa 5424
(Close to Rialto)
30121 Venice
Phone: +39 – 41 – 522 35 69

Trattoria dalla Marisa
Fondamenta San Giobbe
Cannaregio 652/B
30121 Venice
Phone: + 39 – 41 -72 02 11

Great Reads

When travelling I like to complete my day by listening to local music and reading a good novel that takes place in the surroundings – and sometimes even makes things that I’ve seen during the day much clearer.

Cafe a Venezia
Coffee break with Venetian news on the side.

In the post about my weekend in Milan I recommended you to get in the mood with the help of Lucio Dalla’s poetic music. For Venice there is of course Ms Donna Leon and her commissario Brunetti leading you to even very hidden spots of the city – he is working on his 26th case by now!

And of course there is the all time classic ‘Death in Venice’ by German Nobel prize winner Thomas Mann.

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