The Venice Biennale is finally
Lisa Dennison, chief curator of the Guggenheim (“Where the sponsor’s always right!”), complained to the Times about the curators having too much say. [Or the Guggenheim not having enough: they apparently lobbied hard for Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle to be chosen for the Guggenheim-owned American Pavilion. Fred Wilson got it instead.]
Wilson has an African street vendor selling fake purses at the entrance to his installation of Venetian Moor-related art. Via Vogel: “Richard Dorment, an American who is an art critic for The Daily Telegraph of London, said he was speechless when he saw the pavilion. ‘To put a seller of handbags in front of a pavilion is condescending to both Americans and Venetians,’ Mr. Dorment said. ‘This is a person, not a work of art. Where are the days when major American artists represented our country?'”
[Rowrr. Dorment apparently lived up to his name; his sniping ignores 1) the inside of the pavilion, which many people praised, 2) the major majorness of the 2001 show’s Robert Gober, and 3) Maurizio Cattelan showing a buried person–an Indian fakir, whose praying hands stuck out of the sand–in 1999. And besides, in 2001, Venice was plastered by billboards for some museum exhibition which pulled the same street vendor stunt as Wilson.]
Elmgreen & Dragset’s e-flux poster, starring Lala, image: e-flux.com
People, if you’re looking for Pitti, it’s in Florence. Venetian art parties rank below even Cannes film premieres on the Burdens Likely To Evoke Sympathy scale. It’s a lesson well learned by the Guardian’s Cannes crank, Fiachra Gibbons, who clearly looked on the bright side in Venice. His reports are giddy fun, from his Black Power shoutout for Wilson’s work, and Chris Ofili’s British pavilion to his star-struck love letter to Lala, the diva chimpanzee star of “Spelling U-T-O-P-I-A”, by my pals Elmgreen & Dragset. [There’s something for the blogosphere to figure out: at what point does “in the interest of full disclosure” become “shameless touting of my connection to famous friends”? Ask me tomorrow when I post about my friend, Olafur Eliasson.]
As I sit here in New York, recovering from my A/C-induced cold, I’m working on an “I Survived the Venice Biennale” T-shirt, for those who truly suffer for art. Stay tuned (or feel free to send a design suggestion or two).