The deluge of contemporary art that is the Venice Biennale is upon us and though we couldn’t feel farther from the canal laden city out here in drought ridden Marfa, our Ballroom alumni are proving us wrong. Barry X Ball, Matthew Day Jackson, Trisha Donnelly, Peter Fischli & David Weiss, Thomas Houseago, Japanther, Sigalit Landau, and Louise Lawler are all part of a strong showing at the 54th Venice Biennale.
Trisha Donnelly, Peter Fischli & David Weiss, and Japanther in ILLUMInations at The Arsenale
Curated by Bice Curiger, ILLUMInations emphasizes the intuitive insight and the illumination of thought that is fostered by an encounter with art and its ability to sharpen the tools of perception. While the last Biennale Making Worlds highlighted constructive creativity, ILLUMInations focuses on the “light” of the illuminating experience, on the epiphanies that come with intercommunicative, intellectual comprehension. The Age of Enlightenment also resonates in ILLUMInations, testifying to the enduring vibrancy of its legacy.
ILLUMInations is by far the youngest edition of the Venice Biennale to date.
Over at the Gelitin Pavillion, which was co-commissioned by Thyssen-Bornemizsa Art Contemporary and Bice Curiger, NY-based punk band Japanther performed as part of the Austrian artists’ collective exhibit/performance, Some Like It Hot. Japanther was featured in Ballroom’s exhibition Deep Comedy.
Japanther says about the project: “In response to Gelitin’s furnace piece we will record and work with sounds captured underwater in the canals of Venice. Using a hydrophone to hear the man-made sounds of the city and introducing water into a very element based performance. Utilizing the cities [sic] unique surroundings as an audio glue for psychedelic Rock and Roll jams. Not unlike the analog tapes Japanther currently uses, the hydrophone provides an all encompassing backdrop of live improvisational noise to the performance. Inducing trance and allowing the viewer a total wash by wall of sound.”
Sigalit Landau’s One Man’s Floor Is Another Man’s Feelings at the Israeli Pavilion
Israeli artist Sigalit Landau who was featured in Ballroom’s Treading Water was selected to represent her country’s pavilion at Venice this year by Jean de Loisy and Ilan Wizgan. One Man’s Floor Is Another Man’s Feelings is a poetic and political exploration of the theme of water. “It focuses on what we have to share all together,” Landau’s co-curator for the exhibition, Jean de Loisy says, “it refers to 3,000 years of Mediterranean complexity.” Water irrigates the five sections of the exhibition, which include installations of pipe, video, and salt, just as blood irrigates the body.
The artist has been working on another water-related project recently, collaborating with Jordanian companies to build a bridge of salt connecting Israel and Jordan across a narrow passage of the Dead Sea. However, she decided not to present this project at the Biennale, preferring to dwell, as she usually does, on poetic video imagery that elicits visceral responses from viewers. Indeed, for Jean de Loisy, the great strength of Landau’s work is its location “between collective consciousness and poetry.”
Barry X Ball’s Portraits and Masterpieces at Ca’Rezzonico
Installation view: Envy, 2008-2010 (Golden honeycomb calcite, 22 x 17.25 x 9.5 inches) and Purity, 2008-2009 (Golden honeycomb calcite, 24 x 16.5 x 11.25 inches) at Sala del Trono, Ca’ Rezzonico. Photo courtesy of Francesco Allegretto.
In conjunction with Biennale, presents Portraits and Masterpieces, a solo show of sculptor Barry X Ball, curated by Dr. Laura Mattioli. Ball’s work incorporates both the traditional and the contemporary, directly engaging the history of art while stretching the boundaries of technique.
In his recent work, Ball reinvigorates the age-old tradition of figurative stone sculpture through the use of unconventional stones and methods. He employs a complex array of equipment and procedures to realize his sculptures, ranging from the cutting edge to the traditional, from 3-dimensional scanning, virtual modeling, and computer-controlled milling to hyper detailed hand carving and polishing. Ball’s sculptures, although paying reverent homage to their historical antecedents, are completely new.
Portraits and Masterpieces is the largest exhibition of the artist’s work to date, with 24 sculptures loaned from collections in the U.S. and Europe installed in 19 rooms on three floors. The sculptures have been carefully selected to interact with particular Ca’ Rezzonico room environments, creating a lush progression of site-specific installations.
Matthew Day Jackson, Thomas Houseago, & Louise Lawler in The World Belongs to You at Palazzo Grassi
, François Pinault‘s foundation, has mounted the large group exhibition, The World Belongs to You. Eschewing nationality as organizing principle, curator Caroline Bourgeois presents works by artists of different generations and origins. By juxtaposing different ways of making art, disciplines, and personal backgrounds, the exhibition seeks to explore artists’ relationships to history, reality, and its own representation. In a world often threatened by tension and self-withdrawal, the exhibition aims to approach identity, not based upon an affirmation of nationality or origins, but rather upon the way that one constructs relations with “the other.” As Édouard Glissant, who recently passed away, said, “identity should not be seen as a single root
but as a root that stretches out towards other roots.”