A great trip to Venice in October to catch the 2017 Venice Biennale in the Giardini and the Arsenale. The Giardini is a long established exhibition site and many countries have a permanent pavilion here. There is also a major site for selected artists in the Giardini. The Arsenale (“arsenal”) is the old dock area of Venice, and a further exhibition featuring selected artists is staged in the spectacular long building once used for rope making. The year the exhibition was curated by Christine Macel, curator of the Pompidou Centre, Paris. The focus was on community and communication.
I liked the fact that in the Venice Biennale 2017 the human body was acknowledged as medium of expression. The extraordinary anatomical constructs of Piny are one example. The stitched and padded “skins” by Touloub is another. Marwan paints huge distorted portraits and Firenze’s semi abstracts show the human figure in a specific space. Eileen Quinian photographs her own body and creates abstract and fragmented images. Zec’s installation in a nearby church was a moving example of how traditional figurative art can be very relevant today. Tracey Moffat in the Australian Pavilion has an installation of 10 large photographs entitled “Body Remembers”. A woman returns to an isolated ruined house in the Australian outback. The title is inspired by the poem “Body, remember” (1918) by Greek poet Cavafy – “an exhortation to remember the power of desire and passions to do with forbidden love”.
Many of the exhibits focused on hand made work, such as Lanceta and Walther, who respectively work with weaving and stitching as forms of expression. Other makers such as Mark Bradford, in USA pavilion, made his huge pieces mainly from the papers used in hair salons to dye and tint hair. Bradford worked as a hair stylist before becoming an artist.