|parallel universes >> previous articles - parallel universes >> Making Worlds. A report from the Venice Biennale|
(Text by Nicola Bozzi)
The similarities between the Architecture and the Art Biennale in Venice are getting more and more evident, but this is not limited to aesthetic intersections like building deconstruction or the invasion of the white cube by contemporary art pieces. Visual artists and architects overlap not only in the public/exhibition space, but in their very design practice.At this year's Biennale, curated by Daniel Birnbaum, there are countless architectural spaces and elements. The pieces by Yona Friedman, Carsten Höller, Liam Gillick, Elmgreen & Dragset are just some of the most famous examples, and obviously there is no lack of relational art, represented by the Rirkrit Tiravanija-designed library at the Giardini and by the brand-new cafeteria signed by Tobias Rehberger, also awarded the Golden Lion as best artist. This building mood is enhanced by the significant presence of the United Arab Emirates, participating in the venetian event for the first time in history with photographic works by artist Lamya Gargash (dealing with architectural spaces), pieces by several national artists and many videos and models illustrating and promoting Dubai and the Emirates as a new growing cultural center. Many other pavilions host artist who tackled gloomy and heterotopic spaces (the french Claude Lévêque) or used design elements to create sculptural volumes (Liam Gillick at the German Pavilion), color (Cildo Meireles at the Arsenale) and movement (Haegue Yang's minimalist constructions, shaken by fans and exhibited at the Korean Pavilion).
Liam Gillick at the German Pavilion. Photo from contemporaryartdaily.com
Haegue Yang at the Korean Pavilion. Photo from contemporaryartdaily.com
But, as the title says, this year's Biennale is about Making Worlds, which implies creating imaginery along with spaces. And so Mark Lewis deconstructs the city as a cinematographic archetype at the Canadian Pavilion, and Shaun Gladwell sets a suggestive motor ride in a metephysical desert in the Australian one.
Shaun Gladwell at the Australian Pavilion. Photo from theartnewspaper.com
Anyway, apart from the many minimalist of organic/chaotic installations shown, conjugating a 60s-flavored attention for space with varying degrees of political commitment, the project itself has gained much attention, in shape of drawing. Utopian visions and realistic proposals have equal exposure at the Biennale, where we find an abundance of notes, schemes and sketches, notational visions foreseeing the realization of environments, devices, possible or impossible futures. Like the Pavel Pepperstein and Marjetica Potrc's works, where the artists traced manifold utopias for sci-fi futures, more or less sustainable, by drawing just a few colored lines and scribbling some notes. World-making is a practice of the mind and drawings channel concepts and create interfaces just as much as physical structures - which might at times result bulky or frivolous - do.
Pavel Pepperstein at the Russian Pavilion. Photo from copyriot.se
Marjetica Potrc at the Arsenale. Photo from comproevendoimmobiliare.typepad.com
Marjetica Potrc at the Arsenale. Photo from 1.bp.blogspot.comIn conclusion, I find the following excerpt from an interview (which curator Daniel Birnbaum made to famous art theorist Sarat Maharaj for Artforum and published on the Biennale catalogue) very interesting and representative of a diffuse feeling. Maharaj talks about the ways art can (especially in contrast with its traditional European matrix) deal with the conplexity of the contemporary: "There is much activity in India, China, Africa that is radically interdisciplinary. It deterritorializes received concepts of art. Groups working on the Internet or with film, video, performance, and other practices are involved in modes of knowledge production that often have oblique relations to the visual. [...] Are such practices more like research machines through which social, political, visual, statistical, epidemiological data are telescoped? These are visual-intellectual evolutions that cannot be reduced to constructions of the art system." Today's art does not only make worlds, but it creates research tools filtering them, elaborating information of any kind and converting them in experiences the audience can inhabit and make their own, through a participation that is not authorship-related, but living-related.