Jun 13, 2011

Venice Lido


On the Lido

This year I am staying in a small hotel on the Lido in Venice. It smells of jasmine, is away from the crowds, two stops on the vaporetto from the biennale, and best of all it has a small beach. At the end of each day I come back to the hotel, drop my bags, grab a towel, and walk to the beach. After a swim and a run I have a beer at the surf-bar on the beach, then return, change into dinner clothes and walk to a restaurant. The sun is out till around 7.30 so its a perfect way to end the day. My hotel is Villa Della Palme. Its fairly basic, reasonably quiet, clean, and a hundred euros a night for a double room. Time for a spritz!

The crowds in Venice

Jun 12, 2011

Venice Biennale 2011


Start the morning with a Caffe del Doge. It *is* worth hunting for. Almost up there with Blue Bottle coffee in San Francisco!

Crowding onto the morning vaporetto.

For me the most lasting impression from the Venice Biennale 2011 is Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla's American pavilion, “Gloria”. It was a refreshing encounter. Most of the works in the pavilion resonate, and together they make a provocative exhibition. The tank piece in particular is great to talk about, look at, listen to… I want one.

Recurring themes this year: Heavy closed-loop industrial machinery (French, American, Israeli, Slovenian & Turkish pavilions); Anything plugged in; Performance everywhere but never when I was there; oh, and lots and lots of talking-head video - so much so that, at Marco Polo airport, I mistook the instructional video at the security gate for yet another artwork.

Missing this year: Any serious attempts to recuperate painting, with the exception of Seth Price’s paintings in the Central pavilion.

Allora & Calzadilla's American Pavilion. Maximal restraint. And really good legs. The tank piece is also theirs (see the video I posted)

Live performance in Allora & Calzadilla's American Pavilion


Below are the words I jotted down for each pavilion as I went around – Its fleeting, unedited and flippant.


Swiss crystal excess. Someone gave Hirschorn too much money.

Denmark. “Speech matters”. Not.

Nordic / Eriksson. Oh D&E where are you now?

Tank. Brilliant.

Venuzuela. Bassim pop tarts.

Russia. Monastryski mystery and substance, served dry.

Japan / Tabaimo. Dreamy animations with mirrors.

Korea / Yong Baek. Flower gun disaster.

Germany / Schlingensief. Egomania confronts blasphemy. I love this.

Christoph Schlingensief's German pavilion - I liked the little touches, like changing the label from Germania to Egomania, and adding a 'Kino' grafitti tag on the side.

German pavilion - Christoph Schlingensief's installation is astounding.

Another view of the Christoph Schlingensief's German pavilion

Canada / Shearer. Not for me.

Australia / Armanious. Trying too hard.

Britain / Nelson. Theme park made of dust.

France / Boltanski. Trumped by the tank.

Dutch. Opera without the melodrama.

Spain. “The inadequate”. Just so.

Israel / Landau. Didactic rises to new levels and goes underground.

Poland, Egypt, Romania. Worthy, but the Romanian’s grafitti should have been applied to all three.

Romanian Pavilion (Adrian Bojenoiu, Alexandru Niculescu). The 'why not' reasons were better than the 'why' reasons on the other wall, and better than what was inside.

Central pavilion

A slightly disheveled anti-statement that made Catelan’s stuffed pigeons the best statement of all. Oh. and Nathaniel Mellors videos.

Minimalism meets relational aethetics. Norma Jeane, #Jan25 (#Sidibouzid, #Feb12, #Feb14, #Feb17…) (2011), colored plasticine (Central pavilion).


After the Giardini, on to the Arsenale. Song Dong's mirrored chinese closet doors were very Wong Kar-Wai .

Song’s cupboards are a great start. Marclay’s Clock is a great end. Turel’s space glows in the middle, though for me it was ruined by the attendant who insisted on standing right at the front, thereby destroying the effect (apparently someone had fallen off the edge).

A picture of my iPhone with Marclay's "The Clock" in the background. This was a perfect capstone to the Arsenale. I watched for about half an hour, I could have stayed all day.

Elsewhere - Picks:

Hirst deconstructed by Wu Rigen, in the Future Pass exhibit (17 on the maps). It was a fun pavilion if you like anime.

Nicole Knauer's cloud in the Future Pass pavilion.

Irwin Wurm's house, next to the bridge at Academia. The large guy with a blue top is unfortunately not part of the exhibit.

Yes, that is a block of watermelon on the floor. (Wilfredo Prieto, Future Generation Art Prize pavilion).

Karla Black, Scottish Pavilion. It is much better than it photographs.

Melanie Smith's Mexian pavilion showed incredible scope.

Nato a Venezia is thought provoking and the setting is cool. Talk to the gallery guides upstairs to learn more about this exhibit.

Also notable: Iraq / Abidin’s light saber battle. And Haiti by the waterfront: Glad to see them here.

Jun 5, 2011

PhD - End of year one

I've completed the first year of my part time Art Practice PhD at Goldsmiths College, London. Well on my way in terms of creating a research plan. A lot further to go in terms of writing and making!

Jun 1, 2011

Montalvo Fellowship


I am pleased to announce I have been awarded a Fellowship at the Sally and Don Lucas Artists Residency Program, at Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, California, for the 2011/2013 season. The Montalvo Visual Arts Fellowship is an award specifically for committed artists working in areas of contemporary visual arts. I was invited to apply. My work was selected from a pool of candidates by a jury comprised of arts professionals including Bruce Yonemoto, Visual Artist; Alard von Rohr, Curator and Art Historian, Deutsche Bank; Susan Krane, Executive Director, San Jose Museum of Art; and Donna Conwell, Curator, Getty Research Institute.

A home/studio at Montalvo, designed by Adele Naude Santos and artist Doug Hollis.
Photo by Tom Ligamiri. See this SFGate story.

"Montalvo Arts Center is a multi-disciplinary arts center that has been in existence since 1939. Our artist residency is the third oldest in the United States. In 1999, the program was closed to redesign a new residency complex, consisting of ten live/work studios and a commons building designed by six teams of renowned architects and artists, on 10 acres of land within a 175 acre park, that is home to the Montalvo Arts Center. The Lucas Artists Residency Program re-opened in 2004 as one of the largest facilities specifically built as an artist residency for an international, multi-disciplinary program of artists and scholars. The Lucas Artists Residency Program fosters a community of highly motivated, talented, creative, and critical minds from a range of disciplines and geographical areas. As the heart of the programmatic offerings at Montalvo, artists and thinkers are invited to live and work in the Program’s residency for 1-3 months."

See link.