Venice 55th Biennale – Il Palazzo Enciclopedico


I calculate that I have attended at least 20 Venice biennales and am always seduced and charmed by Venice’s extraordinary panoramas despite of course the relentless and ever growing number of tourists of every nationality color religion size and shape : a mixed bag of curious global travelers out to discover the miracle that is Venice. 

Coming from a side canal to the Grand Canal on each visit … my Parisian sophistication is replaced by a cry of candid and naïve enthusiasm… as I take in the extraordinary and marvelous scene as if it was the first time.

Forty years ago the Biennale catered to Occidental history and taste… managed and curated by art critics, cultural ministries and museum directors. It concerned artists from Europe the US and a bit of South America and Japan. “Emerging” art centers were Russia and Poland… UAE Iraq and Saudi Arabia were but vague geopolitical (if that) locations on maps not even vaguely considered for the elite and western artistic platform that was the Venice Biennale. It was as if cultural and artistic heritage was an occidental specificity.

Today owing to the new global communication, social media and a redistribution of global wealth not to mention a new take on and perception of culture not always systematically referring to western values… we have a new and electrifying global artistic situation and the Venice Biennale is the embodiment and the personification of this new universal cultural outburst.
Massimiliano Gioni has managed to mystify us all as to his choices and his direction. He has orchestrated a magnificent creation. Eclectic, curious, exhilarating.

Outstanding presentations include the Iraqi pavilion curated by Jonathon Watkins with a moving work by Furhat Al Jamil filmmaker and visual artist.

The United Arab Emirates presented a beautiful and moving video installation with sound “Walking on Water” Directions 2005/2013, 2005/2013. Two-minute loop, by Mohammed Kazem .


“I searched for Form and Land….. For years and years I roamed”… Ulysses in search of Ithaca? No…. Jeremy Deller at the British Pavilion… a mind blowing consciousness raising experience especially for a political animal as I…Alastair Sooke of Britain’s Daily telegraph says Deller is “dishing up uncomfortable truths about the nation”.


It was a glorious find at the Biennale which was rather empty of Political Discourse.
The Indonesian contribution to the biennale was not only a clin d’oeil at the ruling classes and the Sukharto legacy… but a beautifully interwoven manifestation of Indonesia ‘s spiritual and political heritage : Called “Sakti “ meaning Cosmic energy….the pavilion in the Arsenal is one of the high points of the Venice Show.
The extraordinary contribution of Titarubi Shadow of Surrender highlights the link between Sakti and education; knowledge being considered by the artist as the basis for civilization. Her installation is comprised of school benches made of charcoal-like burnt wood to represent the long learning process individuals endure throughout their lifetime. Oversized blank books are laid on each bench, inviting viewers to fill them with their own personal stories. Words of wisdom in various languages are projected on the books, reminding viewers of what is important in life. A massive charcoal drawing of a forest functions as the backdrop of the installation, in reference to Indonesia’s tropical forests, the many fires that periodically destroy them, and the burnt wood of the benches.


Titarubi @ Venice 55th Biennale

Sri Astari’ s work highlights the importance of the Javanese culture within Indonesian culture .
Her installation, is a traditional Javanese pavilion-like structure called Pandapa.
“Dancing the Wild Seas” – include nine dancers (traditional Javanese puppets) who dance the Bedoyo, a sacred Javanese dance. According to the artist, the Pandapa symbolizes the human soul, within which dance the nine young girls, who, by engaging in their ritualistic dance, manifest the strength of the Queen of the South Sea, the personification Of Sakti “Cosmic Energy”.


Astari @Venice 55th Biennale

Another return to the West with Britain’s Marc Quinn who started his career in my gallery in 1990 with his bread sculptures. His exhibition opening at the Cini Foundation on the 29th of May was met with the usual mixed bag of hate and love. I had a preview look at the show and was astounded by its impact in line with the Damien Hirst outcry. It must be seen and experienced.


This art outrageously and expensively achieved in this bling bling bent might just be the most attractive part of the Biennale to the oligarchs who park their super yachts along the Venice quay side during the Biennale. – But as Alistair Sooke so politely puts it “Elsewhere in the city a sea change is occurring: curators are exhibiting artists who make work with less conspicuous production values. Art this brazen, then, is starting to look out of date.

Nikki Marquardt for nikileaksnews!

nikki man ray

Nikki M at reception Peggy Guggenheim  55th Venice biennale…

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