In 2013 I happily went to the Biennale in Venice for the first time in my life… It was my first trip to Venice as well, so in my memory the impressions of the city itsself get mixed with the view on art declared as art. Venice is not a beauty in a modern way. The houses are old, their colours nearly vanished, it is not a clean, antiseptic city – walking there feels more like opening a treasure box, an old but very loved one. It is occasionally shimmering and glimmering like the few gasps one gets on the lagune while walking through narrow streets.
The exhibition of the 55.Biennale Arte took place in many spaces all over the city, but mostly at Arsenale and Giardini. The wide area of the Arsenale is a good contrast to the labyrinthic streets and canals of Venice – but the way how the works were presented referred again to the city’s magic chaos of little hidden places and shadowed narrow spaces. Venice is the perfect place to play hide and seek and the motto of 2013s Biennale – Il Palazzo Enciclopedico – answered to this grown up-playground in perfect harmony.
Though I went there very early in the morning, the place was totally crowded and after some hours, one gets really tired of being one of hundreds or thousands of visitors. I took my chance to take a little rest beside the exhibition halls and started for Giardini, where most of the countries pavillons are located. But on my way, I was slowed down by the artist at the Istituto Italo-Latina Americano, where I fell in love with U from Urugay – a unique perfum made by Martin Sastre. Lingering towards the end of the Arsenale, I got attracted by the boat show of Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson as well as by the artworks of the Bahamas. In the Chinese pavillon, I was impressed by the high degree of technical perfection in the movies of Chinese artist Miao Xiaochun. In the afternoon, I finally arrived at Giardini. My favorite places there was first of all the pavillon of Venezuela, which was bursting with life and action and where I found the most visitors watching the videos of spraying artists, obviously having fun there. Like me, they were all shining from the mirroring of this powerful art.
After talking a close look an the Korean (neither nor) and the Japanese (reflecting the political and social consequences of Fukushima) pavillon, I came at least to a very british place (English Magic), where I saw humorous paintings of Jeremy Deller, had a nice cup of tea and felt very much at home with the piece of art that I could take with me from there. When the doors closed, me and my friends were sitting with our Spritz close to the Portuguese ferryboat, that reminded us on all the places we didn’t see that day.
In total, it has been a very warm and affectionate presentation of art, with many powerful artist and artworks, matching perfectly to the location of Venice. Thank you, Mr. Gioni, for reminding me of art being everywhere on the spot and that it is sometimes big enough to show a glimps of divine humour!