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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VENICE on a budget – when to go, where to stay, what to eat, and much more

Visiting Venice can be pretty pricey: You find yourself at one of world’s most unique places – and it comes with a price tag.

 

Italy Venice Canale Grande

Every visitor to Venice will know this sight: The Chiesa di San Simeon Piccolo across from the main train station Venezia Santa Lucia, photographed from the Ponte degli Scalzi.

 

I’ve been coming to Venice for years – at least every other year to visit the Biennale di Arte. Consequently, I’m not going there for these overpriced touristy places and services. I enjoy Venice on a budget – and believe me, I enjoy it to the max. Therefore, in this post, I’m sharing my best tips on when to go, where to stay, what to eat, and much more.

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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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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:

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.

*This article contains affiliate links. By purchasing items through my affiliate links at no extra cost to you, I will receive a small commission that helps to run this site.

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.

Venice
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)

Dolk 

(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…

Dolk
Two shimmering ‘paintings’
Dolk
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.

Morbelli
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!

Glasstress
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.

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

This is my seventh time to Venice – the last three times were on the occasion of the Biennale. This takes away the urge of  doing all the heavy duty tourist activities like riding on the ridiculously overpriced Vaporetti, the water buses, or standing in line forever to see Saint Mark’s or buying tacky glass figurines from Murano.

Punta della Dogana
View from the Punta della Dogana at the Giudecca island.

But it doesn’t mean that my days are not busy. Even without constantly losing my way I’d be on the alley (since there is no road) again from dawn till dusk.


Mind you during the Biennale there are about 120 artists from 51 countries – spread over 86 National Presentations, Special Projects, and Collaterali. You certainly don’t get bored.

Things that did not bore me today

Pavilion of Antigua and Barbuda

Frank Walter

(born  in 1926 in Antigua, died there in 2009)

Not only is Frank Walter’s art in its raw way quite intriguing, the man himself is fascinating: Being some sort of Antiguan W.E.B. du Bois, he was not only a painter and poet, he was also the first person of color (descending from slaves and slave owners) who managed a sugar plantation. However, he was a very humanist and philosophic personality and is said to be one of the most complex Caribbean artists.

This exhibition, set up as a cabinet of art and curiosities, portraits him in an appreciative and complete way.

Frank Walter
Frank Walter was not only a painter, he was also a poet and writer.

Frank Walter
Paintings in a raw, very Afro-Caribbean style.

Republic of San Marino Pavilion

Friendship Project

What a name, right? I expected so much; sometimes that’s a big mistake. If I’m not very mistaken, there are 14 artists involved – and I didn’t like one of them; actually I disliked quite a few.

Friendship Project
Fu Yuxiang: Migrant Aliens
I expected friends, instead I was introduced to some extra-terrestrial Adams family.

Ateneo Veneto
At the Ateneo Veneto venue at least the ceiling is gorgeous, painted immaculately by Palma Il Giovane

I intended to introduce on my blog only those parts of the Biennale that I really liked (and the “Big Points” like the pavilions, the Damian Hirst show, the exhibition at the Prada Foundation (yet to come)), but this was so bad that i felt like including it as a counterpoint.

Pavilion of Grenada

This is a nice collective exhibition – I particularly liked the installation by Milton Williams, the aerial “Sea Lungs” by Asher Mains, and the painting/film installation by Zena Assi.

Milton Williams
Milton Williams: Sustenance (front)
Asher Mains: Sea Lungs (back)

And then there is an exhibit that’s somehow connected to the one at the next venue, the Punta della Dogana, but see for yourself.


Punta della Dogana

Damian Hirst

So I went to see the second part of the exhibition “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable” that I already disliked on Monday – for its gigantomania, for its pointlessness and its tacky performance. Someone said the part at the Punta della Dogana venue was better than the one at Palazzo Grassi; well, it isn’t.

But what I find absolutely wrecking unbelievable is this:

Punta della Dogana
Damien Hirst: Mermaid (planned since 2007)
Punta della Dogana
Damien Hirst: Mermaid under water

Jason de Caires Taylor
Jason de Caires Taylor – created the first under water sculpture park off the West Coast of Grenada in 2006

Jason de Caires Taylor
Also mermaid-like sculptures

What a coincidence, right?
I mean, if I paint the sea in my painting blue and you paint the sea in your painting blue, I will not accuse you of copying. But do two people independently have the same or very, very similar idea of creating sculptures and sinking them in the ocean and letting them get covered with algae and corals and shells….

I also need to point out that Jason de Caires Taylor started his art project to raise awareness for the fact that we have already lost 40 per cent of the coral reefs and this is going on. So his approach is an ecological one.

Abbazia di San Gregorio

Jan Fabre

(born 1958 in Antwerp)

The first time I saw something by Jan Fabre was at the Elgiz Museum in Istanbul: An evening dress made of shimmering glass beetles – so cool!

Jan Fabre
This sculptural installation gives a hint where the expression ‘boner’ might come from.

The exhibition at this former abbey is quite mixed – if I see another skull, I scream! Not because they scare me, no, they bore me. No! More! Skulls!

Jan Fabre
Skulls are only ok on Zurbaran’s friars.

But there are other pieces that are fine, I particularly like the pigeons he seated – including their faeces – along the sill around the patio.

Jan Fabre
When doves…well, not cry.
Venice Palazzo
That’s the extra treat in Venice: Even if the exhibition doesn’t blow you away, the venue and the views do for sure!

Objection 


Michal Cole 

(born 1974 in Haifa, lives and works in London)

Ekin Onat

(born 1976 in Istanbul)

These two ladies put an ingenious, powerful, and even fun exhibition together, that’s not to be missed. Definitely one of the best shows at this moment in Venice!

Ekin Onat
Ekin Onat: There is no lack of security here
The chair covers, the carpet, everything is made of cop uniforms and accessories.
In the upper hall is a film where the artists quotes incidents of cops killing people – accidently or on purpose. No lack of security….

Michal Cole
In a pitch dark kitchen women scream in pots and bowls – the only lights around.

Michal Cole
In the film Neverland Michal Cole is depicting a female Sisyphus.
But the hilarious thing is the sign on the toilet seat saying “Do not use” – and this is not part of the exhibit! So since they needed to put up this sign, does it mean that someonr actually….. Did that person lock the exhibit’s doof so the other visitors waited in the hallway? Did that somehow qualify as a performance? I had so many questions….

Michal Cole and Ekin Onat
Self-portrait of the two fantastic artists. You go, girls!

Palazzo Loredan

Imago Mundi

759 artists from Eastern and Western Canada

It’s nice that Luciano Benneton is carrying his company’s motto ‘United Colors’ also into the art world and supports the artistic image of the world. The current exhibition at the Palazzo Loredan brings together very different artists – some already established, some on the verge of becoming famous – including Inuit and Indigenous.

Fondazione Benetton
One rule the artist have to stick to: Space is limited to 10 x 12 cm


Chiesa di San Samuele

Evan Penny

(born 1953 in South Africa, lives and works in Toronto/Canada)

The sinister atmosphere of this small, dark church underlines the powerful pain in Evan Penny’s  hyper realistic sculptures. A hidden gem – right next to the Palazzo Grassi where the big art outlet is taking place.

Evan Penny
Very compelling exhibition (The artist’s self-portrait on the right)

Chiesa di San Gallo

Paul Benney

(born 1959 in London)

Another creator of somber paintings exhibited in another murky chapel so that his painted flames actually seem to lighten the room.

Paul Benney
Paul Benney Speaking in Tongues
The chiaroscuro gives the image a very baroque appearance.

Palazzo Michiel

Synesthesia

True Treu Designers

Actually, there’s an exhibition on design at this Palazzo, but on that occasion there’s a small, but absolutely worth seeing special exhibit from a collective of Turkish designers on the topic of migration – very suitable: Turkey as one of the countries being mostly frequented by immigrants from the Middle East, presenting their sculptures in Italy, being one of the countries mostly frequented by immigrants from Africa.

Synesthesia
Neslihan Ișik: New Norms?
Not only the motives, also that they are painted on a vessel that deems Greek or Roman – countries that are the first to receive the major part of migrants coming to Europe.

Synestesia
Argun Dağçinar A Life Vest?
I guess this gilded life vest does not need any explanation referring to migration.

So you see it was a great day. At noon I only had some pizza to go, but in the early evening I sure did enjoy a nice glass of Spritz and a light snack. Life is good – Viva Venezia 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


I – Pavilion of Artists and Books 

Olafur Eliasson 

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

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

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


Edi Rama 

(born 1964 in Tirana) 

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

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

Ye Liu 

(born 1964 in Beijing) 

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

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


II – Pavilion of Joys and Fears 

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

Marwan 

(born 1934 in Damascus, died 2016 in Germany) 

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

Marwan
Selfportrait by Marwan

Kiki Smith 

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

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

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


…and other nice things I saw outside the Giardini:

Pavilion of Ivory Coast 

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

Jems Koko Bi 

(born 1966 in Sifra / Ivory Coast) 

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

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

Joana Choumali 

(born 1974 in Abidjan / Ivory Coast) 

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

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

Abidjan Paris
Abidjan Paris


Personal Structures 

Carol A. Feuerman 

(born 1945 in Hartford) 

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

Monumental Quan
Monumental Quan

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

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

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

I will never forget the moment I arrived for the first time in Venice: twelve years ago – first stop of a rail trip to Cinque Terre (by the way another piece of paradise fallen on earth) via Verona, Florence, and Pisa.

Sunset in Venice
Under the Venetian Sky.

We got out at Piazzale Roma, it was July, it was hot, Venice was packed, hordes of (mainly American) tourists pushed themselves -and each other – through the narrow alleys and wider streets; usually the epitome of hell.

But I didn’t find the energy to nag (and usually I’m very energetic when it comes to nagging) – I was simply mesmerized by this surreal place, the narrow sidewalks along the canals criss crossing the historic center, the small bridges leading from micro-neighborhood to micro-neighborhood and sometimes just ending at a house entrance or even just a wall.

Where to take photographs? How can you pick a particularly atmospheric corner, which is the most enchanting view? Every single alley and niche is just mind-blowing.

Gondolieri in Venice
Traffic jam on a canal. I suppose the people in the gondola had something more romantic in mind than crashing into delivery boats.
OSM – oh sole mio!

I’m well aware of the social and ecologic problems Venice is facing, of the struggle against the water, the decay, the masses of people and the merciless cruise industry: Although the greater Venice area has more than 260,000 inhabitants, less than 60,000 are living in the historic center. Every year this little island built on Millions of steles that became a UNESCO world heritage in 1987 bends under ten millions of visitors – and I’m not using the verb ‘welcome’ on purpose – plus an additional 14 millions day trippers. It’s a miracle that the place is still there – but it definitely is an endangered species.

Cruise Ship Placards
In case you didn’t know: Venetians are happy to inform you.

Nevertheless, Venezia, you are one of a kind and will always have a very special place in my heart.

Saint Mark's Square
After today’s heavy rain at noon there is aqua alta on the Marcus square. Only the kids are thrilled playing in this unexpected kiddy pool.


57. Biennale 

This year’s biennal is taking place from May 17 to November 26. It’s the 57th issue and it’s the 4th time that it’s curated by a woman; I find that incredible!

Christine Macel - Biennale bye:myself
This year’s curator Christine Macel
(© La Biennale di Venezia, Photo: Andrea Avezzù)

This year’s curator is Ms Christine Macel, born in 1969 in Paris, who has been a curator at the Centre Pompidou in Paris since 2000.

She’s being criticized for not being ambitious enough regarding the public relevance of the event, since she’s focusing on the art it self and shouts out “Viva Arte Viva”. There is enough space to interpret this catchphrase in different ways, and Christine Macel left as well space for the artists to interpret it; and the nine sections’ mottos. I find her concept very discreet and thoughtful.

Although I’m undoubtably a political person, the art world’s big conscious-critical-political gestures and poses often deem so pretentious. Two years ago there was a reading of Karl Marx’ “Capital”  – I mean, come one, how pretentious is that!? (This page-turner celebrates its 150s anniversary next Thursday, by the way, so merci beaucoup, Christine, for not taking up this issue)
I had the feeling that only people who were tired from all the walking took advantage of the empty chairs in front of the stage and put up with the spectacle for the benefit of a short break.

So anyway, Mme. Macel declares her “Viva Arte Viva” to be inspired by humanism, and I find, that’s a beautiful idea that leaves enough space for inspiration and creativity. And maybe it’s a rather female pitch: not constantly feeling the urge to prove to the world how ‘intellectual’ and in control you are. Let’s get real, after 17 highly successful years being in charge of one of world’s most important art venues, this lady has nothing to prove to anyone.

Since I preferred to visit the Arsenale first, I have to skip the two first chapters which will be added tomorrow when I go to the Giardini.

Here comes part one of the Arsenale – the seven central pavilions. The post about the national pavilions will follow in part two mid of this week.


III – Pavilion of the Common

Lee Mingwei 

(born in Taiwan in 1964, currently living in Paris and New York)

the mending project
The Mending Project
An art project in the aftermath of 9/11


IV – Pavilion of the Earth

Kananginak Pootoogook

(born 1935 in Cape Dorset/Canada, died in 2010)

Kananginak and his wife
Untitled – Kananginak and his Wife Shooyoo in their Home.
Lovely pencil drawings by Mr. Pootoogook who is an Inuit.

V – Pavilion of Traditions

Francis Upritchard

(born 1976 in Christchurch/New Zealand)

Francis Upritchard
Various puppets – representing traditions, which remain unspecified.

Actually in this pavilion the best exhibit was the film “David” by Xiao Guan, showing us all a mirror how we consume art. While the video shows the overpresence of the David-statue and its consumption, the images are accompanied by a supposedly naive song about David – but if you don’t get distracted by the hilarious side, the message makes you blush.

VI – Pavilion of the Shamans

Ernesto Neto

(born 1964 in Rio de Janeiro)

Ernesto Neto
Since I wasn’t particularly crazy about any of the exhibits at the Shaman Pavilion, I’m introducing the most
spectacular one, the centerpiece that was covered by every media.

VII – Dionysian Pavilion

Kader Attia

(born 1970 in Dugny/France, now living in Berlin and Paris)




This Installation 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.


VIII – Pavilion of Colors

Sheila Hicks

(born in Nebraska, lives between Paris and New York)

Sheila Hicks
Pavilion of Colors – what could be more iconic than Sheila Hicks’ Escalade Beyond Chromatic Lands?!


IX – Pavilion of Time and Infinity

Liliana Porter

(born 1941 in Buenos Aires, lives in New York)

Liliana Porter
While the Pavilion of the Shamans didn’t offer me anything really touching, at the Pavilion of Time and Infinity were
various pieces that I’d find worthy to be introduced. But I’m sticking to the cutest one, which was this tiny chaotic scenery
called El hombre con el hacha y otras situaciones breves (The man with the axe and other short situations)


…and other nice things I saw outside the Arsenale.

Pavilion of Taiwan

Tehching Hsieh

(born 1950 in Nanzhou/Taiwan, lives in Brooklyn/New York)
One Year Performance 1980 – 1981

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


Pavilion of Mongolia

Chimeddorj Shagdarjav

(born 1954 in Mongolia)

Chimeddorj Shagdarjav
I’m Bird
Yes, cranes are graceful – but here there are guns.


Pavilion of Andorra

Eve Ariza

(born 1973 in France, lives in Andorra)


Eve ARiza
Murmuri
Eve Ariza is giving women earthen voices.



Pavilion of Macao

Wong Cheng Pou

(born 1960 in Macao)


Wong Cheng Pou
A Bonsai of my Dream
The cutest name for the cutest sculptures and corresponding etchings.
These two guys actually carry the one in the middle through the wall.


Pavilion of Hong Kong

Samson Young

(born 1979 in Hong Kong)

Samson Young
Songs for Disaster Relief
A super fun and campy installation with lots of cheesy music. I was relieved in a blink of an eye (actually, I’d rather need a metaphor with ear in it rather than eye…)

Chiesa della Pietà

Safet Zec

(born 1943 in Bosnia-Herzegovina)
Safet Zec
Exodus
I was so glad having stumbled by incident over this fantastic, intense paintings depicting different scenarios from the current refugee topic, painted in the fashion of the old masters like Tintoretto. It’s amazing when a single painting is telling you a whole story. Not to be missed!


And this is where I had aperitivo tonight

Tonight I treated myself to an aperitivo at a cute little tavern right on the main street crossing Cannaregio. Here the niblets do not come with your drink, but they are also more sophisticated.
Aperitivo
I had 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 – could be worse, right?!

Cantina Vecia Carbonera
Cannaregio 2329

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

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

So this morning I took the train from Milan via Pisa to Venice Mestre station which is on the main land – in the ‘real’ world. Of course Mestre is not as surreal and dreamy as Venice itself, but there are certainly some advantages staying there – and if it’s only for the lower prices for accommodations, food, practically everything.

Gondoliere in Venice
Venice is absolutely stunning – but Venice is also its own cliché.

Although Trenitalia has a bad rep, I cannot complain: I’ve taken an fantastic number of trains criss cross Italy and never had any problem, never got stuck, nothing. Just comfy, fast, and pretty cheap: I’m paying 20 €uro each way by regional trains that take about 3 hours. A fast train needs one hour less and costs from 35 €uro up – so it’s up to you whether you choose speed over price (I would if I had e. g. only a weekend, but I have a whole week: beata me (= lucky me)).

Talking ’bout cheap: Before coming here I’ve luckily found a great site where you can book bed&breakfast places at really unbeatable prices – it’s called Bed and Breakfast Italia and now I’m staying with Marina who’s a doll – sweet and helpful and friendly.
The place is not in the historic centre, but in Mestre in a lovely neighborhood – by bus like ten minutes. She charges 50 €uro per night, basic breakfast included, and feel very comfortable here.

Peggy Guggenheim Collection

In many places Monday is not a good day for art enthusiasts since many venues are closed. Not the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice, so Peggy, here I come.

Palazzo Vernier dei Leoni - Guggenheim bye:myself
The “Palazzo Vernier dei Leonie”, that used to be Ms Guggenheim’s home and houses now her impressive art collection
that she donated to the Samuel R. Guggenheim Foundation.
(© Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Photo: Matteo de Fina)

Peggy Guggenheim was born as Marguerite Guggenheim in 1898 in New York. She was one of the three daughters of the industrialist Benjamin Guggenheim who in 1912 was at the wrong time in the wrong place: on the ‘Titanic’ whilst it was sinking.

Salomon Robert Guggenheim, his brother and consequently Peggy’s uncle, was also an industrialist, but also a philanthrope and patron of arts.

Back to Peggy, who in 1921 moved to Paris and got involved with the very exciting, fresh, new, and daring art scene and people like Djuna Barnes, Man Ray, and Marcel Duchamp. She got married to French writer Laurence Veil and the couple got to kids Pegeen and Sindbad (yes, I’ve heard this name, don’t point, let’s pretend we didn’t notice).

After divorcing Veil, Peggy opened and closed galleries in London and Paris, being lectured and instructed about art by her artist friends. During her years in Paris just before WWII she was able to extend her collection significantly by buying at extremely low prices from artist who had to flee.
On the other hand she donated 500,000 Francs to the Emergency Rescue Committee that helped prosecuted people escaping Vichy France. Being of Jewish descent, in 1941 she had to leave, too, and she went to the United States together with her later husband, German artist Max Ernst, whose art was considered ‘degenerated’.

Max Ernst - Guggenheim bye:myself
La Toilette de la mariée (Attirement of the Bride) Painting by Peggy Guggenheim’s second husband Max Ernst, who used the decalcomanie technique in many of his most important paintings: First he applied the color with a sheet and by removing it, the still wet color formed a pattern or
motive that Ernst completed to an image.
(© Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Photo: Andrea Sarti/CAST1466)

In 1947, Peggy Guggenheim came back to Europe and settled in Venice. She had divorced Max Ernst who got involved with the surrealist artist Dorothea Tanning.
She moved into the Palazzo Vernier dei Leoni, that she opened as a museum to the public in 1951.

giardino al Palazzo Vernier dei Leoni bye:myself
The beautiful garden of Guggenheim’s palazzo – with lots of arts even outside.
Also Guggenheim’s grave is found in this yard right next  the graves of her dogs.
And since I’m a moron sometimes, I pitied her a lot when I fist visited the site because I thought that she had lost 14 children; but it’s also a little bit her fault since she wrote on their plaque that there are resting her ‘beautiful babies’.
(© Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Photo: David Heald)

Alexander Calder - Guggenheim bye:myself
On of Alexander Calder’s magical, airy mobiles.
But check how it matches the artfully forged black
doors and windows.
(© Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Photo: Andrea Sarti/CAST1466)

Anyway, in 1969, Peggy Guggenheim bequeathed her collection to the Salomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York. She died ten years later in Italy and is buried in the Palazzo’s patio.

To learn more about Peggy Guggenheim, I recommend her very entertaining biography “Confession of an Art Addict”

Room - Guggenheim bye:myself
This looks nothing like my living room. I would be already happy just looking at the long, elegant Brancusi-bird
to the right.
(© Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Photo: David Heald)

One small room is dedicated to Peggy Guggenheim’s daughter Pegeen Vail who was an artist. Sadly, she suffered from depressions and committed suicide at the age of 41.

One of Pegeen’s paintings. I like the bright colors and the fun motive – quite mattisish. I think she was a talented artist.

On the occasion of this year’s biennale there was an exhibition on Mark Tobey that I’ve missed
by just one day. Now there is only Picasso left who has many fans – so he doesn’t need me. Anyway, this exhibition is titled “Picasso. On the Beach” with the focus on one of Peggy Guggenheim’s favorite paintings. This show will go on till January 8, 2018 – but visiting the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is always worth a visit.

Peggy Guggenheim Collection 
Palazzo Venier dei Leoni
Dorsoduro 701
30123 Venezia
Phone: +39 – 41 – 240 54 11
Email: info@guggenheim-venice.it

Open from Wednesday to Monday 10 a. m. to 6 p. m.

François Pinault Foundation

Not only was Peggy Guggenheim a poor…angel compared to her family members; in comparison to Monsieur François Pinault she was a pauper. But there are only 64 people worldwide who have more money than Monsieur Pinault who according to the Forbes-list of 2015 owns a piggy bank filled with 14.9 billions. He’s making his money with companies like Gucci, Bottega Veneta and many more.

So it was probably no big deal for him to shop the Palazzo Grassi from Gianni Agnelli, owner of the Fiat car company. Sounds like a very posh flee market.

Anyway, Monsieur Pinault is now presenting his collection of modern art at the Palazzo Grassi that was designed by the architect Giorgio Massari, who also created Ca’ Rezzonico, and was finished in 1772.

On the occasion of the Biennale, Pinault ‘hired’ art superstar Damian Hirst. Damian Hirst, born in 1965 in the art cradle Bristol. While he did a lot for the art by organizing the exhibition “Freeze” in 1988 which initiated the Young British Artist ‘movement’, he over the years lost his originality.

Damian Hirst - calf
Those were the days, my friend, when Hirst upset the
audience by cutting calves in half…

He did shock the audience in 2007 when he finished the diamond skull “For the Love of God” that has an estimated value of 300 million US$. His animals – whole or cut in parts – that he preserved in formaldehyde have caused admiration or disgust.

Damien Hirst
….and his statues skinned themselves.

Hirst is world’s wealthiest artist: He holds a wealth of 1 billion US$. With that he could by a couple of his diamond skulls.

But obviously he set the bar quite high; and it’s difficult to keep up with his own standards.

For the Palazzo Grassi he created a ‘treasure’ of statues, tools, coins and medals that supposedly was salvaged and is now on display, covered with all sorts of sea plants and corals and barnacles. There are also films on display telling how divers find the treasures.

Damian Hirst - Demon with Bowl
This center piece called Demon with Bowl is 18 meters / 59 feet high.
Yet another proof that size doesn’t matter.

Damian Hirst - Demon with Bowl
Here a film what the Demon with Bowl looked like under water – before he was supposedly found.

Damian Hirst - Mickey Mouse
And here is Mickey watching a photograph how he was found in the Ocean.
Using trashy, trivial, commerce symbols, Mr. Hirst, hasn’t been original since Warhol, Lichtenstein, Koons…..

The exhibition is in two big venues. The story is not original enough keep up the suspense looking at so many exhibits. The pieces are not beautiful enough to fascinate the visitors. The whole is not quirky enough to blow your mind. It’s big. It’s very big. It’s too big. It’s interesting insofar that it shows that gigantomania is not enough to cast a spell over the art audience.

Of course everybody is talking about the show, every art magazine has written about it, they are even advertising for it on the back of the bus tickets – what a sell out.

Today I’ve been only to the Palazzo Grassi part, the Punta Dogana will follow in a later post.

Palazzo Grassi
Campo San Samuele 3231
Venice

Open Wedneday to Monday 10 a. m. to 7 p.  m.

Palazzo Bembo

At every Biennale there is the exhibition “Personal Structures” taking place at Palazzo Bembo (and Palazzo Mora as well as Giardini Marinaressa, but these two venues will be covered in a later post).

It always a quite eclectic mix of very different pieces from artists from many countries – at the Bembo for instance from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Viet Nam, France, Australia, the US and many more. The mix is so diverse, that I think everybody finds something he likes.

Palazzo Bembo
Graham Hay Critical Mass – ice cones made of paper clay that can be taken as a souvenir (front) and
Kimberley Gundle A Celebration of Cultural Adornment of the Massai of Kenya and Tanzania (back)

Palazzo Bembo
Xenia Hausner Exiles 2 
Sometimes it takes only an ideal, appealing colors and a good painting technique to create decent piece of art.

Palazzo Bembo
Fun sculptures in technical perfection by Carole A. Feuerman in the backdrop of Antoine Rose’s beach photographs.
Kudos to the curators for this congruent arrangement.

At every Biennale, this exhibition is on of my favorites.

Palazzo Bembo
Riva del Carbon 4793
30124 Venice

Aperitivo

My landlady recommended me the coolest place for an aperitivo: Taverna al Remer. It’s located in a teeny tiny alley close to Chiesa di Giovanni Crisostomo. You turn into the Sotoportego del Remer – a really narrow alley without any sign, but you find it on Google maps.

Taverna Remer
Wide range of drinks at the rustic bar…
Taverna Remer
….accompanied by tasty niblets.

During their happy hour from 5.30 to 7 p. m. they have all sort of lovely drinks and a very generous choice of niblets to choose from as much as you like.

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

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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.