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Books
So many “Illumi/nations”
with the Biennale d’Arte
The entire lagoon like an open-air museum. In this 54th edition the proposals and provocations of the contemporary international from 89 countries. The much-discussed Italian Pavilion curated by Vittorio Sgarbi by Francesca De Filippi
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      The framework is never-changing; Venice with its evocative lagoons, its penetrating pastel colors and atmospheres suspended between the past and a contemporaneity yet to be discovered. The most recent of one of the most important art exhibitions in the world began amidst much controversy and great expectations, sometimes unfulfilled, sometimes exceeded. The old and new Arsenal, the Gardens, and a whole constellation of collateral events disseminated along alleyways, salizade and sottoporteghi, they are the usual, never outmoded, scenario of this Biennale that, like a test-bed, measures the current state of development of artistic languages. Starting from the controversial Italian Pavilion curated by that household name that is Sgarbi whose “L’Arte non è una cosa nostra” was a turning-point in the process that binds artist, curator and critic, blending it into a single “it’s all art”. What to think? As far as the outcome of this operation in “intellectual memory” one could express a politically correct “time will tell”.

      Much cleaner and more legible, while we are still on the subject of the creativity of the Bel Paese, was the Pavilion of the Accademie at the Arsenale Nuovo, where some already famous names stand out, but where some other, younger, artists also had the opportunity to be visibile for a moment, and usually deserved it. Once the Leoni d’oro have already been awarded, it seems easy to express a favorable opinion about this pavilion or that pavilion, about the nations or the artists, but in reality, Germany, represented by Christoph Schlingensief and Christian Marclay, with their entry for “Illumi/nazioni” curated by Bice Curiger, with his video “The clock”, definitely deserved the honor. Very interesting, though less socially oriented, was the Austrian entry, by Markus Schinwald, which in terms of originality and adherence to the aesthetic and content-related criteria of contemporaneity was perhaps a step ahead of the others.

      Then come the special projects; from Japan by the video artist Tabaimo, from Greece by Diohandi and from Switzerland by Thomas Hirschhorn with the exhibition “Crystal of Resistance”. The Eastern European countries of Serbia, Rumenia and Poland also did themselves proud although their entries where perhaps a little too clean or a little too rigid, while the work entitled “Chance” by the great Cristian Boltanski draws you in and astonishes you at the French Pavilion, as does the project by Artur Barrio for Brazil, in which the dialogue between the exhibition space and the work is fluid and harmonising. The work by Raja and Shadia Alem from Saudi Arabia, a country enjoying its first participation at the Biennale, is fascinating and refined, like the monumental visions of the young Argentinian artist Adrian Villar Rojas or the civil and political commitment of the United arab Emirates. In a long series of collateral events, the outstanding entries are without doubt “L’Ascensione” by Anish Kapoor at the island of San Giorgio, the imposing and sacred “Pietas” by Jan Fabre at the Scuola Grande della Misericordia and also the “Ritorno a Venezia di Pino Pascali” at Palazzo Bianchi Michiel, like the beautiful collections of Prada and Pinault and lastly the exhibition of Julian Schnabel in the halls of Palazzo Correr in Piazza San Marco.

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