June 13, 2017

Guttural Responses at documenta 14

Comfort is nice. The pleasures of a well designed map, a well designed program, and well designed art labels are largely invisible until they lack.

documenta 14 didn't feel like the result of team work. It felt as if the various curators had been marking their territory, like dogs peeing at every corner. 

Expanding and getting bigger is of course what every company wants. But what if documenta had decided to shrink and then would have been able to pay every collaborator? Oh!  

It didn't work when Artur Zmijewski tried to bring the Occupy Movement in the art space for the Berlin Biennial. It also doesn't work the other way around: by letting artists take over the work of politicians. 

This is really nice to sing, you can do so everywhere while hands in the air. Artist Jennifer Danos invented it and then started singing along: Money Men Money Money Men Men Money Men Money Men Money Money Men Men Money Money MEN MONEY MONEY MEN MONEY MEN MONEY MONEY MEN MEN Money Men Men Money Men Men Money Money (this continues)

Question mark face when seeing that the Berlin artist Olaf Holzapfel has a whole floor of the Palais to himself with work made out of hay, inspired by Chile. 

The ground floor of the Neue Galerie was curated as a kind of Cabinet de Curiosity with many women artists and as a culmination point the art work by a transgender artist with no arms. Can I bet that a white male heterosexual curator was at work here, expanding his freedom? 

Depressed when I saw postmodern dancers crawling on the floor at the Neue Neue Galerie. How can we keep the Anne Imhof phenomenon contained to Venice? 

Otobong Nkanga sold towers of soap made out of charcoal for 20 Euros a piece at no less than 4 locations. Such an overdose that I can't see her work anymore for at least the next 5 years. 

The Fridericianum smelled like moths in a closet and had an all over Anselm Kiefer gloom.  

Showing solo in a dark space separated from everything else might have been the only way for the art work to survive. Lucky Ben Russell. 

June 5, 2017

Talking to Professionals

The Design Strategist

You say to be relevant
one needs to know the truth 
By not acknowledging the truth
one stops being relevant 

The Artist Liaison

Collectors are dying out in the USA
at the age of eighty
their kids don't want the art 
the museums don't want to store it

New collectors are on the rise in South-East Asia
where they're young
like twenty-two

The Busdriver

the departing words
of the last customer
are hanging in the air
at the bakery

tschüsss the bus driver
yells on his break drinking coffee
sitting next to me, 

I laugh he laughs we laugh
for unanswered goodbyes
we know
bring schlechte Laune
and a daily doses of melancholy 

June 1, 2017

Guest blogger Claudio Cravero: ‘Viva Arte Viva’ at the Venice Biennial

Is ‘Live, Art Alive’ the summer craze of the 57th Venice Biennial? Does it mostly reflect an artist’s or a curator’s standpoint? Without a strong curatorial statement, guest writer Claudio Cravero questions what kind of narrative is still to be written to tell the pulse of today’s art.

French curator Christine Macel stated that ‘Viva Arte Viva’ would like to put art at the very core of her main exhibition at the Giardini and the Arsenale. After both Enwezor’s Biennial (‘All The World’s Futures’, 2015) and Gioni’s edition (‘Encyclopedic Palace’, 2013), Christine Macel’s desire was clearly to lighten the experience we can have when visiting an exhibition of such a weight. Hence, the curator claims that art in her exhibition is on display simply for what it is. Sculptures, installations, paintings, open labs, participatory projects, and so forth, are told be directly showcased through the artists’ voice. Although ‘Viva Arte Viva’ is visibly structured as if it were a novel with its prologue and its ensuing chapters, the works of art pretend to lay bare the living process behind their creation without a precise curatorial narrative. The result? Quite tedious, honestly, as well as is the overall display. There is a handful of not-to-be-missed artwork we could easily bring home. But, which international art exhibition hasn’t anything memorable too? Among them, Younes Rahmoun and Hassan Sharif, whose works were already exhibited in lesser-known Biennials (Marrakesh and Sharjah, respectively). Also, it is noteworthy the rediscovery of more established and recently revamped artists like the Pakistani Rasheed Araeen and the Italian Maria Lai. However, what ultimately draws attention to everyone’s eyes in the exhibition ends up being a lovelorn artwork chosen to fill the corridor of an art fair venue whatsoever.

But where is the tension that shakes the status quo of today’s art? It seems that the perturbing play of forces at play we seek in an artwork only resonates in the sort of lab-cum-studio that artists bring forth in person within the main exhibition. For example, Olafur Eliason invites both students and migrants to build lamps that are worth 250 Euro each, and once they are sold the money is going to be given to some international Ong. In the Giardini, but out of the exhibition ‘Viva Arte Viva’, the American Mark Bradford also works with local prisoners to sustain the sale of their products made thanks to the Italian rehabilitant labor plans. Throughout Venice’s streets (calle), also the Tunisian Pavilion, which is back to the Biennial after a long 60-year absence, presents a project that focuses on migration and freedom of movement by releasing a ‘travel document’.
Eventually, the ongoing art venue includes the newborn NSK State Pavilion, the Diaspora Pavilion, and the Research Pavilion. Regardless of their importance as an attempt to redefine the territories of the art system by pushing the boundaries of the concept of statehood through socially engaged art projects, they brought their statement on purpose in the glitzy Venice, and not elsewhere. This fact is a sign that the 122-year old Biennial still represents the topical place-to-be to rethinking the transformation of art and its being alive. Or its survival.

Maria Lai, Tying to the Mountain, 1981, b-w photographic series
Pavilion of Artists and Books (Wallpaper by Edi Rama)
in 'Viva Arte Viva' at the 57th Venice Biennale, 2017
Crowd queuing at the entrance of the Biennial, May 2017