Art Biennale Venice, 2019 (till November 24, 2019)
Romanticism, beauty, silences and gastronomic goodness, and an excessive tourism inclusive of enormous diabolical cruise ships, this is Venice. This year, between May and November, it is possible to get lost in the narrow alleys of the romantic city, but also to admire the works of some of the greatest masters of contemporary art with the Arte Povera by the Italian Burri and the Greek Kounellis , the Informal Art of the Italian Vedova, the Neo Expressionism of the German Baselitz, the Art Brut of the Swiss Dubuffet, the Abstractism of another Swiss Jean Arp, and with the new works of contemporary European artists and Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.
The Venice Art Biennale and the accompanying side events offer a remarkable overview of the art world. The works were selected by curators who followed the track given by the title of the Biennial “May You Live In Interesting Times”. The Artistic Director Ralf Rutgoff has therefore posed a question that is both existential (individual malaise) and social (how to cope with a society aimed at self-destruction and its potential annihilation). Or, in his words of presentation to the press, “the complexity of art – whose signs are full of contradictions and ambivalence – can illuminate some contemporary aspects of our social relationships and our psyche”. Rutgoff sees in art a social function in that “the most interesting works offer engaging starting points, not conclusions” and have “the ability to inspire new ways of vision and behavior … to tirelessly put to the test in discussion cultural standards and norms “. The question at this point is whether the company is right to expect from the artist who covers this social role as a provocateur of pleasure and critical thinking, or whether it can be left in the bohemian solitude of art as a pleasure of pleasure and the social role is the subliminal projection of the viewer.
An observation on the Biennale, which is of great comfort, is that the old guard is still in the vanguard, innovative and radical. So much so that they are already renowned artists such as the American Indian Jimmie Durham (with animal skulls towering over abstract bodies of now metaphysical sculptures) (Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement), the Afro-American Arthur Jafa (with the gigantic sized tire) (Golden Lion as best artist), the Belgians Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys (with their animatronic figures) (mention for the best national pavilion) to have received official recognition . Among the national pavilions of the Giardini and the Arsenale, one of my favorites was the award-winning national pavilion: the Belgian Pavilion. The existential threats of today’s society in an evident imbalance between traditional tasks and the arts are staged with realistic, gruesome puppets of human dimensions that play a musical instrument or engage in evocative murmurs.
In general, there are many videos in which individual anxieties are presented in metaphorical or hyper-realist contexts. By explicit contradiction, the loss of the individual in the world becomes even more exemplary. Walking through the exhibition spaces, diving in the dark rooms, listening to the sounds from afar, walking in the labyrinth of the pavilions in the Gardens and the Arsenal premises, can be a fascinating adventure, during which feel like Alice chasing the white rabbit ( even if sometimes it is Gulliver, enchanted by the Lilliputians to have the upper hand over the imagination). Perhaps it is good to let the wonder and dismay be the mental states in the encounter with the works of the Chinese Sun Yuan and Peng Yu (with the gigantic device with a super brush that sheds blood in a glass box), the Argentine Tomas Saraceno (with the musical clouds real hymns to nature, and the cobwebs), the British Ed Atkins (with videos of tearful faces and living bodies between slices of bread, light yet so emotionally heavy) and one among the most political and politicized the Swiss Christopher Buechel who brought the sunken fishing boat near the Libyan coast causing the sinking of 800 immigrants, now provocatively on the Arsenal bank.
The main and collateral events take place in the spaces of the Biennale of the Giardini and the Arsenale or in the most beautiful buildings, in the warehouses reinvented to celebrate art, churches and museums. Several days lived intensely and intensely may not be enough to outline the entire artistic proposal of the Biennale. Take your time. Walking. Linger. Return to your steps after exploring other spaces. Perhaps this is the hope of the Biennale, that the present is interesting, without the need to indulge in the past or indulge in the frenzy of throwing into the future.