|the centre of attention|
Rachel Campbell-Johnston in the Times (9 June and 15 June 2005)
|or back to the library||
June 09, 2005
... ......... ... ......... .... ...... ....... ..... .... ...(that's
BIENNALE opens this week and the whole event feels a lot like some anachronistic
joke. The city that sits dripping in Renaissance decadence like some crumbling
old dowager in ancestral jewels plays host to the worlds most flamboyant
contemporary arts fair.
I have already run the quarter-mile gamut of the nearby Arsenale. So far I have typed a letter using only full stops, rehearsed my own funeral to the strains of Killing Me Softly (the Shirley Bassey version, of course); I was surgically swabbed and electronically linked to a Texan and an Italian; and I climbed inside the belly of a Utopian whale to admire the patterns of my brain waves (they looked disconcertingly liked a plate of spaghetti and baked beans).
But, if that isnt enough already, today promises much more: anything from the launch of a spaceship made by Chinese peasants through a trip to a Portaloo that, apparently, is all about fundamentalism, to a promised opportunity to hold the wind in my hands.
It would be rather more useful if I could hold an idea in my head. The opening week of the biennale passes in a tumult of press and private views, of parties and receptions, of professional-level gatecrashing and industrial-strength hangovers. And where amid all this turmoil is the space for quiet contemplation? Where is the space to appreciate the precious, the illuminating, the profound?
This festival is a fairground. Emotions all melt into a merry-go-round blur. You feel a bit like a spoilt baby plonked down in its playpen.
Given too many bright baubles, you get tired and frustrated. If everything means something, then soon nothing means anything. You end up by chucking the whole lot of them out.
Only too aware of this, the curators this year which marks both the first co-curatorship and the first time that women have filled the position have cut down the number of candidates by about two thirds.
It is infinitely
better, because when anything goes, then my advice is that you shouldnt.
The biennale may be a must for professional art critics, but it is not
the place for those who want truly to appreciate art.
June 15, 2005
discovers the 'f' word
whiff of feminism rises from the lagoon this summer. For the first time
in its more than a hundred year history the Venice Biennale is directed
by women. Two Spanish art historians, María de Corral and Rosa
Martínez, have been the curators, respectively, of the shows The
Experience of Art, which is staged in the Italian pavilion, and Always
a Little Further, which rambles through the long corridors of the Arsenale.