Wednesday 21 September 2011

How much art? Venice Biennale report

How much art? Too much art, that's how much. Today was spent almost entirely trying to do the two main sites of the Venice Biennale, Arsenale and Il Giardini. 

Yesterday we discovered that there are Pavilions of art for various countries, scattered around the town and free to get into. So far we have enjoyed a splendid mosaic if Ukranian eggs, a mix of excellent Arab art, the surprisingly good CatLunyan and Balaeric piece which looks at first like just one big photo, and an incredible collection of art from China and other eastern countries including a particularly well endowed Mickey Mouse. With many more of these Pavilions still to discover we knew we had to devote a day to the big centres, for which you needed to buy tickets (a perverse system meaning you could only buy a 20 euro ticket for Arsenale and Giardini combined but had to use both halves on the same day) though still it was hard to avoid stopping en route (at the interesting Roma pavilion and, fabulously, at an exhibition by an artist we know from Bristol, Marina Moreno which we knew was on but stumbled upon the location of by accident). 

So we'd had lunch before we got to Arsenale and at first we were a little nonplussed by our 20 euro art in its big buildings compared to the free stuff. Then there was more and more and more. And by the time we were halfway along the Arsenale building (we thought) we allowed ourselves nearly an hour watching the most brilliant piece called The Clock for which the arist Christian Marclay has assembled film clips featuring the actual time which run in real time - for 24 hours. Clips from everything from Raging Bull to Little Miss Sunshine, the Prisoner, James Bond films, Billy Liar, Harold Lloyd.... we must have seen clips from 100 movies in the time we sat watching, all showing the real time as depicted in the various films (from 2.10 to 3pm or so). And it continues round the clock, what a nifty piece of totally obsessive and brilliant work. 

Then we moved on and there was more art and more and more. Are you familiar with the concept of bring "arted out"?  On a normal day we can get arted out by two exhibitions in a row. Today we were consuming art, and walking round one of the most stunning and visually diverse cities on Earth, from 10 in the morning until they closed the doors on the last Pavilion in Il Giardini at 6 o'clock with half a dozen countries' work still unseen. Sorry Russia, Denmark, Korea and the rest, I'm sure you're stuff's cracking, but our twenty quid day tickets have run out and tomorrow a dozen more free Pavilions beckon. 

In contrast to the hectic art-cramming that comprises our day, in the evening in Venice there is sod all to do. Thank heavens for free wifi in our hotel. 

Wishing you were here, love Hev and Kev. 

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