Sunday, July 28, 2013

la biennale Venice 2013 - multiples

I've long held a soft spot for artworks that consist of multiples, I'm not sure if it's the geometric layout that they often form, or that together the works can at times become far more than the individual parts. These are a few that caught my eye.

This is a small selection (detail) of the work by Colombian artist Jose Antonio Suarez Londono titled "Franz Kafka, Diaries II (1914 - 1923), 2000 mixed media. Jose began drawing a daily response to Brian Eno's diary, "A year with swollen Appendices" and has since moved on to the diaries of Paul Klee, Franz Kafka and Eugene Delacroix. Jose reads until he feels inspired to draw, paint or write. To date the artist has created 65 'Yearbooks' - his term for the notebooks containing his daily drawings.

Many artists would be familiar with the practice and commitment of a drawing a day and I enjoyed seeing this work in response to someone else's diary entry. The work on each little index card is numbered and varies from sketch, abstract geometry and figurative to almost scientific diagram in style. Again I spent quite some time looking through these wonderful pages, some simple, others elaborate; en mass - quite special. This youtube has a section featuring Jose's work.

This work 'Senza titolo' 2013, (Mixed media on paper, bronze, wood, plaster, mirror, glass, plasticine, clay, brass and burnt wood) by Marco Tirelli is one of my overall favourites from the biennale. My aesthetic favours tonal contrast, so a whole room of black and white with some shades of grey was amazing! This is perhaps a work that could be looked at quickly and passed by, the individual elements have a minimal touch to them. But spending time in this room, within the work in a way, revealed so much more. There is a lovely play across surfaces of varied texture in 2D line drawing, printed and tonal work, overlayed with 3D objects cast and carved, and then the mirror and shelves add another element again. The overall composition and layout of the work is spot on, I could easily live with this work(s). Part of the Italian Pavillion.

A difficult to photograph work by Petra Feriancova from Oskar Ferianc's archive - 'Creator' 2008, New breeds 1948 - 1962. It was interesting to see a large wall covered with photographs of so many different breeds of pigeon. I looked at this work wondering how many of the breeds were still in existence today, are there still enough passionate breeders around to keep all the varieties pure and ongoing?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

la biennale Venice 2013 - installation

Where to start...there was a lot of great installation art on show at the biennale, with the grand architecture of Venice and industrial spaces within the Arsenale almost encouraging - perhaps even daring artists to interact with it in their work.

Above is a small detailed section of Sarah Sze's installation work 'Triple Point' in the U.S. pavilion at the Giardini. I had only previously seen Sarah's work in magazines and online, neither of which do any justice to seeing these works in the flesh. I can only describe them as ordered chaos. There are so many bits, pieces, things, stuff attached, hanging, falling, connected, stuck, clamped and taped in these works, I really struggle to imagine how she puts them altogether. And yet amongst this excess of material and all it's forms of alteration....there is an underlying sense of order, it's not just thrown together. I visited on two different days and spent quite a bit of time viewing the works, there was something very compelling about these works for me.
This work by Elisabetta Benassi, titled 'The Dry Salvages', had an unexpected connection for me, which I'll get to in a moment. The work consists of an uneven floor composed of 10,000 'bricks' made of clay taken from areas of the 1951 Polesine flood. Each is imprinted with the names and alphanumeric cataloguing codes of the largest pieces of space debris still in orbit around the earth. I'm not sure I fully understand the connection between clay from a small town in Italy and space debris; but the week before arriving in Venice, Phil and I had stayed at a farm in Polesine and been told stories of the flooding that occurs there some years, to the extent where some years they have needed to empty out their cellars where the cured hams hang for drying. I was reminded of delicious food in a beautiful area of the Parma region while looking for names of space junk that I recognised. I wonder what the artist envisaged viewers contemplating. (On show in the Arsenale)

'Campo de Colour' by Sonia Falcone was stunning to look at installed on the floor of the Latin American pavilion at the Arsenale. I could smell its aroma long before I saw it, consisting of pigments and spices it engaged my senses from a distance and up close.

This installation work at Galleria di Palazzo Cini was a bit of a surprise as there was no literature or information on site about the work. After heading up a couple of flights of stairs in a residential style building I entered a room and was immediately drawn to the 'masters' on the wall. Paintings from the early to mid renaissance period filled the walls of several rooms, including the stunning Botticelli piece pictured above (Left side on the wall). It took a few minutes for the 'contemporary' aspect of this biennale collateral event to sink in. I became aware of other visitors picking up poster prints from palettes that were situated on the floor within the rooms. Some people spent a great deal of time deciding which free prints they wanted to take, others took one of each, around 23 in total, without taking a second glance at the artworks on the wall.
The experience reminded me of a youtube clip that circulated on facebook not too long ago, with a renowned violinist busking with the worlds most expensive violin and almost no one stopping to listen.
I went back twice to see the 'treasures' and experience this installation by Edson Chagas, I liked it a lot! What do we value, the viewing of a work we can't take with us or a cheap print that's free to take? I left with a wry grin.
You can read more about this work at Art Agenda.
I'll finish up with the yarn-bombing light installation of Joana Vasconcelos, who transformed the floating interior of a Lisbon ferry brought to Venice for the biennale. It was a lot of I need to say anymore?
The work is titled 'Trafaria Praia' 2013.

There were so many more installation works, but these are a few that caught my attention. More images can be seen on the highlights wrap up at the abc arts post.

Friday, July 12, 2013

la biennale Venice 2013 - video art

I've been away for a while with part of the time spent overseas visiting the Venice biennale. I had a week to absorb as much art as I could fit into eight hour days of observing. Even with a whole week of solid viewing I didn't see everything there was on offer in Venice....can't complain though it was amazing....for an art lover at least.

I thought where else to begin a little wrap up of what I saw than with video art, in a sense the epitome of contemporary art now. Video art requires a commitment from the viewer, it generally cannot be surmised in a minute or two, rather it requires to be watched through. Without this commitment you could miss the whole point/ story/ connection of the work, as I did with my first passing view of the Greek pavilion (where "History Zero" by Stefanos Tsivopoulos is on show). Thankfully I returned and watched the three part series in full, realising the connecting human relationships within the three apparently random scenes. There were videos where I left thinking - well I'm never going to get that time back in my life again, fortunately these times were few, with the positives far outweighing the let downs.

My favourite video work was "Grosse Fatigue" 2013 by French artist Camille Henrot, at the arsenale. The multi layered, almost collaged imagery of multiple simultaneous computer screen visuals represented for me the multiple worlds we occupy today, with virtual and reality spheres interweaving. Here's a link to the artist talking about her work (in French) and clips of her video on youtube.

This image above shows about one third of the arc of video projection that makes up the piece "Movie Mural" by Stan Van Der Beek, an artist who lived in New York (1927 - 1984). He envisioned a project - the 'Movie - Drome' in 1965, which was not realised in his life time. This work is very much a collage of movie image and quite entrancing to watch as it filled my whole peripheral vision.

Kan Xuan created the work "Millet Mounds" 2012, a 171 channel video installation. Viewing this work felt like complete visual overload initially. The 171 videos flash through images simultaneously, documenting every known imperial tomb in China. Using a stop motion technique that involves stitching together hundreds of individual still photographs. I found it an exercise in focus and being still as each screen revealed a semi-travelogue effect of each site visited. The work was interesting and revealing in it's imagery, I could have easily spent hours working through the screens....but there's a lot to see!

This video work by ORLAN, titled "The freedom and two skinned-bodies" 2103 involved less of the flash through imagery of some works, rather is had a subtle metamorphose of imagery, x-ray like in some effect, where the visuals of head and face transformed through several partly layered phases. I liked the strong contrast and visual effects. This was part of a collateral event - 'The metamorphoses of the virtual - 100 years of art and freedom' curated by Roberta Semeraro.
Other video works that stand out in my mind/memory are those of Richard Mosse, representing the Pavilion of Ireland with his multi screen piece 'The Enclave'. It was difficult to watch at times, I had that question in my head - am I watching it because it's like a car crash? The work features civil war in Eastern Congo with in depth scenes of refugee camps, conflict and death; all recorded in the psychedelic colour of infrared film.
And a piece titled 'Da Vinci' 2012 by Yuri Ancarani, which is not related to the famous artist, rather it features shots inside a hospital room equipped with cutting-edge technology, with the brand name of the surgical robot being the title of the video. You need a strength of stomach to watch this - fascinating, for me at least - video which incorporates the footage from internal body cameras working with the robot surgery equipment during surgery. Don't read any more if you are squeamish. In other words you can see a void of internal organs inside the body and then watch as a scalpel blade punctures through the tissue/organ wall to enter the cavity....and so it continues...curiosity got the better of me and I was engrossed.
These two video works left me pondering when does film/documentary become art?

One of the things I now reflect on really enjoying at the biennale is that it combines work from earlier artists with that of contemporaries, creating wonderful relations and connections across time. This occurred in various media throughout the exhibitions.

I'll post a couple more selections from the biennale shortly.