admit that I missed a few, and here I dare anyone to say that they visited each and every one of them. One of these was a collection of works titled Who is Alice?, containing 30 works by 15 artists curated by Chu-Young Lee by from the collection of the National Museum of Contemporary Art in South Korea. Here the look was very much in keeping with the Pop Surrealism undercurrent of Ill Palazzo Enciclopedico, but it had much in the way of polished craftsmanship and stylistic originality, making a good case for the vitality of South Korean contemporary art. One room was devoted to the work of Jung-Wook Kim, consisting of large ink-on-paper paintings of bandaged heads and contorted torsos, all revealing heavy psychological emotion with a light and poetic painterly touch.
In a large maritime warehouse near the Basilica San Salute, there was a group exhibition titled Rhizoma: Generation in Waiting, curated by Sara Rosa and featuring the work of 20 young artists working in various cities on or near the Arabian Peninsula. Rosa’s curatorial statement sets the agenda for the work that was included, pointing to how it is informed by communications technology and the logics and illogics of textual transmigration. So be it, but another way of looking at the exhibition was to see how it shows works of visual art negotiating the conflict between deep historical traditions and the inexorable imperatives of modernity, which, like a tragic love story, is a theme that can inspire a multitude of artistic variations. One that struck my funny bone was a video by Sarah Abu Abdali titled Salad Zone (2013). It featured two burka-clad women treating a television set as if it were a dangerous animal that had intruded into their home, each taking turns to strike the monster with long sticks and a shovel in hopes of forcing it to retreat.
in the Kunsthalle Bern in 1969. This is just bad nostalgia, and it is directed at something that was probably much less radical than its later-day worshipers believe to be the case. Even though you can still paint in an abstract expressionist style, you cannot really be an abstract expressionist owing to the non-replicability of the cultural circumstances that gave that movement its form and purpose. Armed with the same historical principal, it is time to recognize and question the mannerism of artists who continue to pulverize Szeeman’s equine cadaver in the name of allegedly utopian political postures. The fact that the Armani Foundation was hosting another walk down the When-Attitudes-Become-Form memory lane should prove the contemporary point, or pointlessness, of that particular form of tired “utopianism.”
Mosse’s Enclave was undeniably stunning in effect and deeply tragic in its implication, making the Ireland Pavilion the most memorable and affecting of all of the national offerings. It also recalled an art world dustup that took place over 30 years ago pertaining to a series of photographs taken by Sebastiao Salgado, focused on the workers and their dismal working conditions in a Brazilian goldmine. Like Mosse’s Enclave, Salgado’s prints were esthetically stunning, even as they were also calls for global empathy that fell on deaf art world ears as well as ideologically blinkered eyes. The complaint that was leveled at Salgado’s work by Ingrid Sishey (then the editor of Artforum) went something like this: Salgado’s work is bad because it estheticized exploitation in a way that blunted or otherwise excused the critique of it. I never agreed with that point, because I was and still am a fan of the work, seeing in it not just “estheticization” (whatever that is), but a real attempt to establish the rhetorical grounds for an ethical empathy with the work’s human subjects in relation to their dire circumstances, creating a real warrant (rather than a pseudo-critical “argument”) for a political response. I get the same thing from Mosse’s Enclave, but I also expect that it will draw out and update the same kind of critical controversy.
technique that is familiar to us from what was produced by the Disney studios in the late 1940s and early 1950s to show an animal singing upbeat songs accompanied to bouncy orchestral music. But as the film progresses, the cheerfulness grew strained and insincere, even a bit hostile. The general look and sound of the animation spoke of Disney in many ways, even as it also conveyed a subtle burlesque of over-packaged American innocence. But the actual character was in no way part of that studio’s bestiary of copyright-protected intellectual property. Ha!
us feel guilty for our voyeuristic complicity in this golden-shower fantasy, its placement of viewers inside an architectural bachelor machine would have made Marcel Duchamp proud. And let’s remember, too, that Danaë was the Greek princess of Argos who was impregnated by golden rain.
A different meditation on the fate of the nation state was found in Alfredo Jaar’s installation titled Venezia, Venezia at the Chile Pavilion. It featured a highly detailed scale model of the various pavilions in the Giardini, surrounded by a pool of water. At periodic intervals, this miniature pavilion complex would submerge and stay under water for several minutes, and then slowly rise back into visibility. Everyone knows that, like fabled Atlantis, the city of St. Mark might sink into the sea, although there is cause for some optimism because of a massive engineering effort underway to save the city. But Jaar’s piece also invites a more subtle reading, in that the periodic flood of the miniature Giardini might also reflect the deluge of forces ranging from mass immigration to electronic fund transfers that are hastening the impending obsolescence of the nation state.
Brett Wallace says
Very clear and comprehensive survey of the various Pavilions. One in particular stuck out for me – the Richard Mosse multi-screen video installation. Great work, Mark.
kate ruddle says
Great article Mark!
Love the line “Looking something like the forensic reconstruction of the fragments of a crashed airplane”
– Kate Ruddle