The Venice Biennale Previews

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

Day 1: The Venice Biennale Previews

The Biennale is split into 3 different areas: the Arsenale, the Giardini, and some pavilions dispersed throughout the city. Today we went to the Arsenale. Much of the work at the Arsenale was installation-based or sculptural, interspersed with sporadic paintings, drawings and photography. It was difficult at times to understand where one work ended and the next began. But one standout highlight was certainly the art collective Gelatin, whose show took over a part of the garden with Brooklyn band Japanther. While a cross-dressed scruffy man with amazing thighs danced on a stripper pole on top of a pile of split wood, other members of the collective melted glass in a kiln and spread the molten liquid on the ground while serving prosecco to the crowd, garden party style. It was a nice break from the more serious and political considerations inside the pavilions.

And it was interesting that while tote bags with the slogan 'Free Ai Wei Wei' were being distributed outside the Biennale's gates, the Chinese Pavilion mere meters away was business as usual (our friend Gordon Austin, an NYAA supporter and traveling companion, added that it was "stinky business at that"), showing small traditional Chinese pots in a dank boiler room.

Kagan & Tuyman
Showing at the Giardini, artist Luc Tuymans took a picture with Michael Kagan...or was it the other way around... Jason Bereswill followed Thomas Demand around for a while... and we also spotted Rob Pruitt, Jonothan Horowitz, Jerry Saltz, Roberta Smith, Mike and Doug Starn, Tony Shafrazi, and Thomas Hirschorn checking out the exhibits.

Below are some photos of Urs Fischer's fantastic giant wax candle sculptures and a video clip from Christian Marclay's The Clock.

Jane, Jason, and Michael

Urs Fischer

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