[Sorry! Acidentally sent (now Part I) before it was completed. Here’s the entire version. If you can’t see the video (as some have complained regarding the first post) click on the headline to take you to the actual web site for the blog – it’s pretty neat].
La Biennale di Venezia – Esposizione internazionale d’Arte has been going on since May, and lucky us, not over until Nov. 22nd. So off we go.
We had to get out to the opposite side of Venice to the Biennial sites – so we decided to get localized and learn the local “subway”; the Vaporetto. We got a bit of a late start, walked down to the vaperetto and tried to figure out how to purchase a 2–day pass from the machine. The machine didn’t work and paying for a single ticket on the boat, which is your only option, is considerably more expensive. When we got on the boat and explained to the conductor that we couldn’t buy the pass because the machine was broken, he said, very diffidently, “Yes,. it’s always broken.” We’re in Italy.
The walk to the Arsenale along the Grand Canal took us away from the busy tourist areas, through residential neighborhoods and into the former military/Naval area of the Arsenal. We arrive at the Arsenale – revitalized old arsenal that spans almost a mile. A labyrinth that houses only a part of the “parlament of forms” of 136 artists from 53 countries. 159 works are on display, expressly realized for this year’s edition.
At the ticket booth we have to take a number to wait (45 minutes) to be called up to buy our tickets. This is huge.
The work is spectacular and seems to us to focus clearly on sustainability, re-use/recycle, and a sense that our world has got to change. The diversity and creativity is truly notable. We all agree that is even better than the last Whitney Biennial.
The Arsenale is a complex of buildings, the main one enormous, an empty space with wonderful interior columns thar is configured to display the many, many, many works in it, including painting, sculpture, videos and music, some works a combination of two or more of these media. By the time we got our tickets and started to look it was after 12. Then as were viewing the work in the long corridor gallery, a soprano voice began to sound. We looked around, and to our delight, a performance piece composed for this site was sung for 30 minutes by Voxnova, a European group that reminded us of A Room Full of Teeth. Wonderful vocalizations, excellent voices and a composition that took advantage of their capacities and the space. AND while they were singing they moved up and down one area of the corridor, pausing at different spots to move around each other in a choreographic composition also developed for the music and the space. It was terrific throughout. Here’s a sample:
The range of artists from all over the world was fascinating. Our progress was slow and we realized that today would be Biennale day only, no time for everything there (or for individual pieces spread throughout the city) much less anything else.
We tried to pick up the pace so we could see more at the Arsenale and get to some of the pavilions in the Giardini, about a 10 minute walk away, but we found ourselves constantly stopping, “just to take a quick look,” at pieces we were passing and then, outside in the exterior spaces of the main and related buildings, at the Arsenale and its location, itself. We did get to the Giardini but not until after 3:30 and had time to see some highlights only before calling it quits and heading home on the vaperetto.
Not the tower in Pisa.
We did take a short lunch break ar the snack bar in the Arsenale. When Josh commented to the cashier that the credit card machine was very slow, she said, with just a touch of peek, that it had been slow, not working right, for seven months (the length of the exhibition). See above re vaperetto conductor. This is Italy.
We had an absolutely wonderful dinner at a locally recommended restaurant, al Rioba. Spectacular take on fine Italian food. We walked back exhausted, but still making plans for tomorrow; The Academia, Peggy Gugenheim collection, and the Frari church.