Crossing Borders With Cool Bags

A Review by Michael Kagan, Jason Bereswill and Jane LaFarge Hamill (MFA 2005)

inside the Japanese Pavilion,
"TABAIMO: teleco-soup" by Artist Tabaimo
Day 3: Crossing Borders with Cool Bags

Our feet are sore, but the excitement hasn't worn off. The pebbled paths of the Giardini are still packed with the art crowd and the line for Mike Nelson's installation at the UK Pavilion is still 2 hours long. Thank god they're giving out free coffee.

Michael and Gordon outside the Serbian Pavilion

Part of the experience of attending the Biennale Previews is feeling the energy of the whole art world focused and hopeful in one beautiful place. The giant leafy trees in the Giardini hang over buildings as varied in design as the nations they represent and the work they house. Parading through the pebble paths; artists, dealers, collectors, press, and fans alike kick up dust from one installation to the next; socializing and debating as they go.

It's apparent after we visited the remainder of the pavilions that it's unavoidable to remove national politicals from ones' experience here. Simply by separating each country into their own pavilion, it sets up a microcosm of international borders. The only country that outstepped its' boundaries was the US; the obnoxious sound of Allora and Calzadilla's clanking military tank reaching far across the Giardini. Interesting comment. The strongest work in the context of the Biennale seems to be that which balances an expression of the individual artist and represention of their nation's culture.

The tote bags that each country gives out with their press packages are worn like flags. Each one is different in design and material and the most coveted bag was Turkey's. Jane lied, stole, and cheated her way into getting us all a couple. See Turkey's yellow tote and the UAE's below.

Following the political theme of the day, we also ran into Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - or should I say his bodyguards; who were big, and shut down every path in sight until he moved at least two pavilions away. (We thought the VIP might be Abramovich, who parked his mega yacht equipped with an escape sub right outside the entrance to the Giardini.)

Netanyahu's brigade parade
Besides the official Biennale events there are a few other shows going on around town. After leaving the Giardini for the day we headed into San Marco and ran into Julian Schnabel making a correction to the text of a gigantic painting/billboard in his purple pj's and red vans. This huge outdoor piece is a marker for a terrific survey of his work showing at the Museo Correr just inside the square.

Ciao for now -
Jane, Jason, and Michael


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