Friday, 10 June 2011

Return to Venice - Part I

My return to Venice for the opening week of 2011 Biennale di Venezia is also a return from blog oblivion and marks 2 years since my first posts which were also about Venice. In fact it was what I saw in Venice which inspired me to document and share so it's rather nice to go back.

ILLUMInations is my 4th Biennale, as usual, Venice was wonderful, always nice to catch up with old friends, make new ones, return to my fave restaurants and obviously see and experience an abundance of art (and go to parties too of course).

The first day was full on, to pick up my press pass meant going through the Arsenale, if it was not for my lunch date at Corte Sconta with Hannah Bhuiya I would have taken the time to indulge in the empty corridors and immerse myself in the James Turrell room without queuing (the first day is the pre preview). I did manage to get a glimpse though of pieces that I would go back and gawk over. In particular, the Birdhead piece and the Bruno Jakob invisible painting. What I did not know then that I know now is that I also got to see GELITIN pre-performance . . .
Bruno Jakob

Corte Sconta is worth it, especially as it was my first day and they say you should take it gently, it was so nice to catch up with Hannah, who was my Biennale buddy 2 years ago at Casa Caraccia. Mega highly recommended, we loved Corte Sconta (and the fact that it is a stone's throw from the Arsenale).

After an amazing lunch of seafood that was a surprise from beginning to end we went to the very new Fondazione Prada. In true Prada style, it felt effortless, thoughtful and was jam packed with some amazing works. My faves were the Arte Povera rooms (amazing), the OMA installation and the Louise Borgeouis room in the back. Amazing stuff, I love how they kept it raw and on that day, you could still smell the fresh paint as it was the first unveiling.

OMA miniature mock up new Prada space in Rome

Louise Borgeouis

We had the bright idea of taking a vaporetto to the Palazzo Grassi but after a 30 minute wait we were informed that they were on strike, so on foot we went. The Grassi is the antithesis of Prada Foundation, whereas Prada is subtle and breathtaking, the Grassi is brash, glossy and breathtaking. It is the collection of Francois Pinault (PPR, owns Gucci and many others), the character of the collection is very different, bigger and more colourful, not so much to my taste but glad I got to see it. I loved how the show mixed old and new, very new, my faves were the Matthew Day Jackson room, a young French artist who made me think I was in a vampire flick with a clever distorted version of a dark Venice, Cyprien Gaillard's projection (so much better than his beer label photos at the Grand Pavilion), and Pennone leaf room. I spent a bit of time at the Grassi two years ago and had a real look at the collection which apart from about 40% remained the same. The main installation was fun, colourful and really did lay its roots all around the palazzo but I found it slightly obviuos especially when there was a giant pink Koons dog staring at it. I suppose there is a market in that.

Then we made a dash to my hotel, to freshen up a bit before the night, next stop was for San Giorgio island for Anish Kapoor. The Isola di San Giorgio and its cathedral is usually the home of the Prada Foundation except as you can see above, Prada has found a permanent home. The church was thus given to Anish Kapoor for his site-specific installation. Hannah and I bumped into Pierluigi Tazzi, the curator who has also published several books on Kapoor. It was not our imagination that the turbine and the wind was not yet "perfect" the moving tunnel which was to look like a vortex was still adjusting, he confirmed this. You still get the "picture" but it would have been good if we went back when there were less people and they get the wind level right. Luckily, my camera caught it but unfortunately, has since been erased (weird).

the only picture left from first night :( en route to San Giorgio

We continued to sunset drinks at the Bauer terrace where I met Jefferson Hack who is lovely and remet Virginia Damsta of Riflemaker. Very much the London crew. From there we went to Angela Missoni's boat for a candlelit dinner. I loved Florian, one part of GELITIN, I would see more of him later in Some Like it Hot. After seeing that performance I am adamant that they must come to Thailand. From there we went to the Bauer, first night at the Bauer . . .where most nights would end up as per every Biennale I have been to so far.

A small note, my hotel was right around the corner near San Marco Square, the location was so perfect I will not ever stay anywhere else again even though Dorsoduro is terribly charming, San Marco/Castello is extremely strategic.

Day one over, 5 more to go!

1 comment:

  1. So is this blog "Just got back from Venice"?

    Have you thought about twitter? ;)