Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The 57th Venice Biennale Prepares for Launch

I must admit that my first sight of the ongoing installation alongside the Grand Canal in Campo San Vio of what I've since learned is a 66-foot-tall gold tower created by the artist James Lee Byars (1932-1997) made me think not of art at all, but of my first visit to Europe (and Venice) as a teenager in 1982, as then President Ronald Reagan and his Soviet counterpart Leonid Brezhnev tussled over the deployment of nuclear missiles located in, or directed at, Europe.

I couldn't help but think that if the economic and sexual Predator-in-Chief currently occupying the White House reached an agreement with Venice's similarly self-promoting non-resident mayor to deploy an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile or two in the historic center they'd both be inclined for them to have the kind of bling factor evident in the image above.

Once the scaffolding has been removed, however, I trust that Byar's The Golden Tower will come into its own as art, installed in a public space (as per the artist's original hopes) for the first time since its creation in 1990. It's one of the many official "Collateral Events" of this edition of the Venice Biennale.

The 57th Biennale itself opens to the public on 13 May (with previews beginning on the 10th) and runs through 26 November 2017.


  1. I learn so much when I drop in on your blog. My first thought wasn't an ICBM, but something more ... er ... intimate. That runs on batteries. But I like the gold - works well with Venice. Maybe the future of Venice is to become a giant outdoor art gallery. There are worse futures, I suppose.

    1. I can certainly understand your first sense of it, Chapps. I think one has to go out of one's way NOT to think of something like that. There are definitely worse futures than being an outdoor art gallery--such as simply being underwater--but hopefully they'll be a better one.