"The problem is not to free ourselves from illusions. The problem is to free ourselves from situations which demand illusions." -Karl Marx
I think Okwui Enwezor, curator, succeeded. The compilation showcased in All the World's Futures (the international pavilions were a separate affair) had me mulling over the following:
-What does it mean to insert the Real in a public space?
-Is the function of art to puncture the bubble of consumerist gluttony/ heteronormative society? To inform? To shock? To uplift? or to inflict wounds, express anger, perhaps even heal?
-What are the functions of international expositions, and what does it mean to view art about torture and oppression among Venice's sunny canals, most of us tourist- spectators?
-How about the art railing against capitalism/consumerism while being housed in a corporate/capitalist endeavor- the official setting of biennale? Does hypocrisy make it wrong? Negate the meaning?
Marx was highly present; there were video pieces presenting lectures and analyses of his works and throughout the event Das Kapital was enacted in live readings. Contemporary global issues were revealed and hit home; human suffering, poverty, oppression, disease, injustice, corruption were prevalent themes. The exhibits at the Giardini and Arsenale forums were certainly intellectually provocative, but I couldn't help wondering where the feeling was? The whole effect was of a college periodical, in fact, a radical newspaper with each individual having his or her say, but generally agreeing upon the basic principles. It felt a little dated.
pieces featuring video/ sound/ physical immersion in a space/ color/ humor/ irony/ poetry/ excess appealed most to me.
Standouts from All the World's Futures included:
Walead Beshty's wonderfully messy sculptures
I don't know if it counts as art technically (the excerpt i saw was straight documentary) but being exposed to that much REALITY definitely made me grateful for the privileged life I lead.
Japan's highly photographable red string & key installation felt like a dream, a set, a story. It was a bold artistic statement that, while not shocking or revolutionary, did manage to make every viewer say Wow. The iphones were snapping pictures right and left- definitely a crowd favorite.
Bravo UK, bravo.
After much disturbing, depressing, provocative imput, the Republic of Slovenia included a process-based, performative installation. Utter: The violent necessity for the embodied presence of hope included a structure spouting slogans, written in chalk and broadcast on a megaphone by live performers, and painted by a woman on a ladder... an opera discussing the vitality of poetry, the role of art, the importance of community and people... it was playful and just a bit mysterious; watching the performers move in and out around the space i had the feeling of witnessing street magic, sans trickery.
amidst ambient music, a giant mechanical clock encircled itself with pencil markings, beautifully capturing the feeling of passing time in a slightly hopeless world, hoping to make truth a little better, hoping for something to make sense...
"we are children of unlikely parents... we were born and then we got old. in this world, everything is young..."