“It’s Art” or The Encyclopedic Palace, the official title chosen by curator Massimiliano Gioni for the 55th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale, held in Venice.
The curator stayed true to his vision. A take on mid-century Italian- American artist Marino Auriti’s “Imaginary Museum”. Meant to capture all things universal, a blending of humanity and science.
Did he capture it too well? There was a sense that if one could dream it up – veer as far right or left from center, build it, capture it, brand it, qualify it with an artist statement, and, most importantly, present it with a straight face – that it was “art.”
I live by the bold move so I get it. I applaud it. But… what did this Biennale mean for the classically trained artists? My impression: they were left out, relegated to the “Collateral” event. When I hear the word collateral, I think damage. I wonder in what way the masters of intellect, canvas and chisel think about the 55th Biennale?
For me, the Biennale was a playground for my imagination and senses. I was enticed with the Louis Vuitton/Tony Oursler traditional-contemporary take on Othello. I was lulled and then morally and emotionally challenged by Richard Mosse’s docu-art, furthered by otherworldly composer Ben Frost’s white noise and humanistic tones.
Slay me, I am having a Russian moment. Maxim Kantor drew me into his painted, thought-required world, with every masterful stroke. And Vadim Zakharov’s reinvention of the Greek myth Danaë placed me at the golden center of the question, “will women ask the questions and thereby save the world?” It was impossible to ignore the centuries of greed and corruption in the form of gold coins threatening to bury me.
I spoke with Mrs. Chung, Director of the National Contemporary Art Museum of Korea, and had a change to make photographic “art” with her curator. Conversed with Eckhard Schneider, the Director of the Pinchuck Art Center at the Future Generation Art Prize and even had a demonstration in being Damian Hirst.
I save the best for last. The women artists of La Biennale, despite winning numerous prizes, were grossly under represented. Silver Lion award winner, Camille Henrot, maintains the spirit of a poet. Future Generation Art Prize winner, Lynette Yiadom Boakye, moved me with her painterly take on genuine human interaction. Abigail DeVille, created a decomposing forest for contemplation out of found Venetian material. And Of Wit and Will team favorite Emily Roysdon challenged our images of sexuality with the most non-Mr. Rogers use of a toy train. Each Bold, Audacious and definitely Unafraid.