Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Call It Stormy Wednesday, This Morning

Don't look now, but there's a small detail in the above which may recall Nicolas Roeg's famously spooky 1973 film about Venice, starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland

The heading of this post is taken from the title of the old blues song "Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just As Bad)."

Originally written and performed by T-Bone Walker, it's been often on my mind--and playlist--this spring here in Venice as rainy day follows rainy day. Albert King with Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Allman Brothers, and Eva Cassidy all performed bluesy covers of it, if you find yourself looking at similar weather patterns where you are.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

No Laughing Matter, This Afternoon

Considering all the problems that city authorities have allowed (or maybe even encouraged) to spiral out of control in Venice--absurd day-tripper overcrowding, illegal Air BnB rentals, cruise ships, take-away fast food stands, and, most recently, chain candy shops--one might be excused for imagining that anything goes here. But apparently certain transgressions, such as that committed by the two would-be Chaplins above soliciting tourist euros in exchange for a photo op without a license, can still bring law enforcement out in full force.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Local Color: Rio di Santa Maria Formosa

This May has, thus far, seemed as mercurial as a typical Venetian March, teasing you with a soft bright sweet temperate morning or afternoon so lovely as to suggest you've passed out of the world of flux and changing weather and into Eden--only to cloud up and rain for two days straight. Usually Saturday and Sunday.

"Marzo pazzo," is what Venetians say ("crazy March"). This year we've also had maggio pazzo.

But even a string of gray days need not be uniformly so, as the freshly painted topa above attests.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Pigeons (And Part of a Winged Lion), This Afternoon

Ca' Da Mosto on the Grand Canal, long under renovation, is the site of the Venice Pavilion during the newly-opened edition of the 58th International Art Biennale and the drab gray sheeting that usually conceals the scaffolding of any facade under renovation has been replaced by a large pale hieroglyph of St Mark's lion (which also evokes the ferro at the front of a gondola) upon a fluorescent highlighter-pen yellow ground. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

10 Views of the Second Day of the 58th Venice Art Biennale's Vernissage, Today

Viewers contemplate a work by Martin Puryear in the United States Pavilion

Dancers in Canadian-born, London-based Zadie Xa's processional work Grandmother Mago perform in the Biennale Giardni (above and below)

A view of the Dutch Pavilion in which works by Iris Kensmil and Remy Jungerman are on display

The curator of the Dutch Pavilion, Anne-Claire Schmitz, answers questions about the work of the artist duo Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys on display there

An unidentified man makes a point to a woman wearing a rack of mirrored sunglasses on her head

Thinking Head, a work by Lara Favretto installed atop the roof of the Giardini's Central Pavilion, almost completely obscures its facade and the space before it

When the wind is coming from a certain direction, the cool fine mist produced by Favretto's work creates what looks and feels likes a thickly foggy winter day in Venice--regardless of what the actual weather of the day is

Prague-based artist Stanislav Kolíbal discusses his works on display in the Czech & Slovak Pavilion (above and below)

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

7 Glimpses from the Opening Vernissage Day of the 58th Venice International Art Biennale, Today

The General Director of this edition of the Biennale, Ralph Rugoff (in blue jacket), discusses an installation by Chinese artist Nabuqi as its protagonist, a spotted cow, approaches on its rails

I spent most of this first day of the Vernissage walking among the works of the 79 artists selected by this Biennale's General Director, Ralph Rugoff, the director of London's Hayword Gallery. All 79 are presented in both the Central Pavilion of the Giardinni and the long long exhibition space of the Arsenale. I'm hoping to get to the national pavilions tomorrow.

I haven't the time to say much more right now than if you like painting and sculpture/installations then this appears to be the Biennale you've been waiting for. There is a lot of it in the spaces curated by Mr Rugoff.

Some of these works, like the paintings and screen prints of Njideka Akunyili Crosby (whose work is also now on display at the Victoria Miro Gallery in Venice, a short distance from La Fenice), I really liked. Some of the rest gave me a new appreciation for video art, and an impatience to get to another instance of it in the show. And this perhaps also explains why one of the pieces I was most struck by today was the sound piece "The Ground" by the young Lebanese-born artist Tarek Atoui, well into the long walk that is the Arsenale segment of the exhibition.

But lacking time, I'll post some more images from today below, with not much more than their titles.

The Vernissage is the time for major artists, and curators, to give interviews--a lot of them  

As the large robot of the work "Can't Help Myself," by the Chinese artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, loudly and violently went about trying to squeegee up the red liquid that continuously oozed from itself within its windowed cell I found myself reminded of the psychotic killer robot from the old and justly forgotten film Robocop II, as well as of a mechanized slaughterhouse. Alas, according to the placard posted beside the work, I was supposed to be thinking about the "elusiveness of art, its defiant refusal to be pinned down and fixed in one place" (except, obviously, on such explanatory exhibition placards). 

"The Mighty-Mighty Lines," by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye 

Sculptures in glass by Andra Ursuta

Detail from the sound work "The Ground," by Tarek Atoui

The virtual reality work "Endodrome", by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster

With four days until the Biennale opens to the public there were still a few details to be worked out in some pieces today, such as this one by the collective Slavs and Tatars

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Sign of the Times (at the Rialto Pescheria)

They say there's no such thing as bad publicity, but it seems there is such a thing as useless and unprofitable publicity, judging from the signs (seen above) recently affixed to one of the largest of the fish stalls in the Rialto Pescheria.

Indeed, for any fishmonger struggling to stay afloat in a city whose resident population is steadily dwindling, it must finally get quite aggravating to find one's tables surrounded by hoards of people jostling to get a look and to know that not one of them will actually buy anything. They are there only to capture a bit of cliched local color, and if their snaps inspire any future tourists to follow in their footsteps (or, more likely, those of a hired guide), those future gawkers also won't be there to buy either. Only to take--a picture or two and move on.

So, a couple of weeks ago the above signs first appeared. I photographed the one above last Monday, after buying a kilogram of the most beautiful fresh yellow fin tuna you could imagine--and which ended up tasting even better than it looked.

But apparently this vendor's attempt to draw the tourist hoards into some kind of exchange--if only that of an image for a euro--must have failed. For by Friday new signs had gone up over all the tables:
               NO PHOTOS, Thanks