Friday, 5 June 2009

No Sleep to Guidecca- Blown at the Venice Biennale day 2:

Venice was every bit as seductive as I had remembered it. Now however, as well as its own unique, particular and sultry beauty, this sinking city has an 'all you can eat' festival for the visual arts balanced precariously on her brow like a rakish crown. The Venice Biennale officially opens on Sunday the 7th of June and runs through to November.

It is 6.15am and rather than lying awake listening to the herd of drowning piglets in the bed next door to me I am sitting bolt upright ruminating on the previous days events, (Ed isn't so much a snorer as a one man site specific audio installation); I however am listening to Ali Farka Toure, writing and feeling as fresh as an orchid.

We loaded up on free Illy iced goodies yesterday (Illy are giving away free iced coffee, as many as you can drink, at the entrance to the Giardidni, I ingested 27 cans over the 4 days we were there) and then we joined the mêlée
at the Russian pavilion (a faded parody of all things architecturally 'Russian') for their official launch.

The spokeswoman (pictured above) presented us first with the artists who had clearly been dragged from their utilitarian garrets and scrubbed down for the occasion before being thrust unwillingly into the limelight.

Mr Smirnoff spoke quietly in Russian, my unverified presumption would be that one of the Cayman Island registered 'play palaces' was his, moored within wafting distance of St Mark's Square. I like the one pictured below, it is exactly what I would have drawn aged 10 if I could have designed my own ship with a couple of billion budget except mine would have had a lot more guns and rockets. He mooted 7 months as a date for the completion of the pavilion's total renovation, now that's personal commitment to art!

The Minister of Organised Crime proudly announced that only two people had been assassinated that year whilst curating the exhibition, or it may have been the Assistant Minister of Culture congratulating the artists and organisers for their hard work, it was hard to tell as my Russian is at best flaky. He put his thumbs up and tried to smile for the cameras but that was even more scary.

I asked the nice lady behind the press counter for a few bags of goodies, (I thought my girls would love them. The Russians are ahead by the way in the Blown Best Bag of Biennale award so far this year; I know many of you are dying to know) and the Assistant Minister denied that the quality was achieved through the use of real human hair. It is all wonderful.

The exhibition is entitled 'Victory over the Future', a triumphalist title for sure but would it be able to fulfill this promise? There was on display a balanced mix of traditional media with more contemporary vehicles of communication. New media is so often favoured over traditional manually crafted objects because of what it is and its perceived trendiness rather than for any conceptual content it may or may not have to convey. Subtlety too becomes a casualty in this race up the greasy pole for easy recognition. Here however the Russians have demonstrated confidence, breadth and vision in their handling of the curatorial process.

Pavel Pepperstein, Landscapes of the Future 2009, watercolour on paper, Russian Pavilion

Pavel Pepperstein is a true polymath, writing novels, performing rap, theorising on art and culture as well creating exquisite watercolour drawings that tug playfully at the many symbols and mindsets resident in the Russian national psyche. Each drawing is superficially bizarre and yet perhaps under the surface reassuringly familiar; they are not surreal in a Daliesque 'mining of the unconscious' sense instead the elements of the compositions are hewn from deliberate, considered and carefully conjured metaphors; they are all the more disturbing for this considered treatment. Pepperstein manipulates the pathos of the past with a deft lyricism. I feel sure that if Kazimir Malevitch were to have taken up children's book illustration it would have looked something like this! What an excellent start to the Russian Pavilion!

Having spent time writing up yesterday's blog and wrestling with the dodgy wi-fi in the press room it was time to head to the Welsh contingent's 'John Cale Live' launch party. Many profound connections were forged over a long, long night, at this point is better to let the pictures do the talking:

I am now looking down the barrel of a full day of art ingestion after absolutely no sleep. Hunter S would definitely approve.

No comments:

Post a Comment