Naima Morelli

My Favourite things (about the 55th Venice Biennale)


Coming back from Australia, I decided to see the Venice Biennale before it ends.
Maybe it was not the greatest Biennale ever, but there are some artworks worth talking about. Here you are, my personal list of favourites:

  • Arthur Bispo do Rosario

I didn’t know about this incredible Brazilian artist before. Apparently he spent fifty years confined to the attic of a psychiatric institution because he started telling people about his visions. In the institution he started making art not with the idea of becoming an artist, but for his own eternal salvation. His work was first shown at the Venice Biennale in 1995 and now he is exhibiting again at the Arsenal.
I have always been attracted by work that relates with paganism, religion and folk tradition. His clusters of waste material, paper, wood and rags are just beautiful. His installations look like toys or fetishes.



Detail of Arthur Bispo do Rosário's Sao Paulo Bienal Installation (2012)

  • Rosemarie Trockel and Günter Weseler: “Fly Me to the Moon”

This ferocious installation by Rosemarie Trockel reminded me of that scene of Trainspotting where the junkie couple forget  to feed their baby for weeks, because they were high. When they recovered they found out that the baby was dead.
In this installation the mother, or the baby sitter, seems to be busy watching slides (another way to say Facebook?) regardless of the baby. She’s so into the slides that she becomes two-dimensional too.
Probably I find this piece hilarious because I don’t particularly like babies and that’s cruel, I know. But Rosemarie and Günter are sure crueler than me, don’t you think?



  • The Indonesian Pavillion

Ok, maybe here I’m a little biased – you already know about my book about Indonesian Contemporary Art. Nevertheless I truly believe that the Indonesian Pavillion was one of the best. The atmosphere was unique, dark, mysterious and full of tension. I will write a post just about the Indonesian Pavillion soon, so stay tuned.

  • The Azerbaijan Pavillion

I admit to know very little about Azerbaijan culture (for now), but I can tell you for sure, that this Pavillion was very interesting and entrataining.
I particularly liked the illusion-based installations of Rashad Alakbarov, like the ones below. In the first metal-bar installation you can read the writing just through the lens of your camera:




A special mention for the ceiling of the pavillion that had nothing to do with Azerbaijan, but it was astonishingly beautiful:


  • The Israeli Pavillion

It was weird but interesting overall. Probably not my taste in art, but I appreciate the videos’ narrative part, which related with the actual space of the gallery.
The work was called  “The Workshop”, by Gilad Ratman, and told the story of this group of people that go on an underground journey from Israel to Venice. Their voyage starts in the caves of Israel, continue through a subterranean passage that leads them to come out from the floor of the Israeli pavilion. The group then decide to turn the pavillion into a workshop.
All these passages were projected on different screens around the two floor pavillion, so after spending some minutes there, you started linking the pieces and understanding the story.



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