on taking pictures of your hand

Two years ago you took a picture of your hand, a tired and sore one, on the train that got you out of Venice, after installing the australian pavillion for the Biennale di Venezia.
This year you did it again. Here’s both of them:


So, you should spill out now what the biennale di venezia was for you.. even though you spent 5 weeks joking with sean: "first rule about venice biennale: do not talk about venice biennale"..
You wonder how nice you should be., where you should stop,.. and if..

You've seen a lot, heard even more, experienced the back gate of the artworld over and over again..
Things should come public, you should wash the flashy veneer people are used to when thinking about the biennales and the whole nationalistic bravado which comes with it..
This year is no difference.
You were employed by two of the australian artists in the contingent set off to impress the antipodes..
We didn't even register in the radar, as if..

It's amazing how much emphasis australia cast upon an event on the other side of the globe, channeling resources and effort (you shouldn't get started on all of the volunteering work such event do cash upon. hours and hours of willing workers thrown in the big pool of nonsensical international relations) in a place where if you didn't go no one would have noticed..
People who got the misfortune of knowing you, know very well your sarcasm...
Shooting anything standing is pretty much all you're good at, and gees you're eager.

You worked for 5 weeks (you were one of the very few who was getting paid, but at the same time your experience, the fact that you actually spoke the language of the local tradespeople, and that you were there two years ago in the same position, building someone else's erection for the sake of art, ensured that you got the gig again..)
you were there again for another erection, 5 meters tall..


Now lets jump a bit sideways here, to then complete the full circle , hopefully the readers will follow you..
Making worlds, Fare mondi, curated by Daniel Birnbaum..
You see, reader, venice is divided in various sections;
-THE curated part (notice the emphasis) housed in the arsenale and the -what was- the italian pavillion (and recently re-named biennale pavillion) in the Giardini (litteraly a big garden at the far end of the venetian cluster of isles, where the various national pavillion are housed, waiting to be filled by eager national representatives one year for the architecture biennale and the other for the art biennale.. this buildings and the garden lay empty and subject to all sort of vandalism for an average of 6 months a year)
-the various nationalistic representations in the pavilions, which by now are so many that there is no room anymore in the giardini alone, so that many of the 77 country represented have to find their own 'art embassy' somewhere else in the city of venice and further afield.
Churches, hospital chapels, libraries, hangars, old industrial remnants, big room in the lavish palazzoes of Venezia are therefore rented for the period of 4/5 months.
Big business.
I know of some rental agreements of Euro 30,000 for such periods, in a moderate room in a palazzo.
but hey, art is art, if nothing else is the most extreme form of waste you could ever come across.. and more often than not with little cultural returns..

Dont loose them.. dont loose them. you shouldn't stir away too far, keep on track..

-third part is the collateral events, which could be anything, from a bunch of buskers on the street to a propaganda platform masked as an art event, to people roaming around the city shouting "be aware, cobras about!".. or maybe those guys where nowhere in the program whats however..uhmm
see, by the time it comes the "magnificent week" of vernissage, there are so many things happening that it becomes hard to discern the legitimate to the plain gimmick, if distinction should be made.
Even a guy in a (what it looks like) vessel made of paper in the water by the traghetto (ferry) stop of the Giardini, with a red fish hooked at his line.. someone told you he was still floating the day after (!!)

so.. back to making worlds, fare mondi, curated show, THE curated show..

You saw the biennale two yaers ago, that was very hard, as you were coming out of an incredible section of hard yakka to build someone dream (or should i say nightmare) house. 5 people, 5 weeks, 2 levels house.
One of the worker by the end of it fell from the ladder to break his hand, another fine man got a badly injured back. He is still suffering from it.
The then proposed -and completed- erection wasn't picked up by the international media, as a matter of fact it was not picked up by anyone really, when they dismantled it they broke nearly all of the incredible white marble which lined up the interiors.. yes you read right, white marble, destroyed and disposed off..
You know how much it cost to dispose off stuff in Venezia?
About 200 euro a cubic meter, add that to the price of the marble in first place and that should give an introduction to the futility of the whole exercise..

So, you were saying, two years ago, curated show, by Robert Storr..
You came away from venice disgusted two years ago..horrified by the scale of this splendid FAIR.
This year you finally found the right adjective for it all, thanks to Danielle, such an amazing and opulent display of nationalistic bravado..
You came away disgusted by the exclusivity of it, the incredible race to impress that the various player went through, who's got the best show bag, who's got the best party with the most exclusive guest list, the best caterer, the most impressive invited (and free for the lucky person with the right ticket) band playing at the party...
Media kits, welcome drinks, special ambassadors and supporters dinners with the artists..the whole thing..

You did the most to get the most people through the gates two years ago, as you did this year, which varied from jumping fences to riding traghetti with no tickets to provide couch and floor space to pass out passes to eventually pass on your own personal pass all together. Fuck exclusivity.

You were in a funny position this time round too, as you are nomore nobody, the article on the australian collector made sure of that, winner of the lempriere and all, so that you became one of the people which all at the sudden got noticed and didn't had to disappear in the background as soon as your job was done kinda thing..
but you will rant about that another time..

Back to THE curated show. two years ago you dind't like it, it felt pretentious and cacophonic, irrilevant, apart from showing off the whos who of the international market of then.
Well this year you like the curated show even less, if possible.
You deciphered what it was that dint work for you the day after, talking to Monica from Torino.
She updated you on the big argument that was being discussed in the Italian art scene, the fact that this year (if i undertsood well is the first time?) the italian pavilion curatorship was given in the hand of a right wing curator.

Now, you don't subscribe to the general outcry for such selection, you truly think that if there is left oriented curators who get to show their selections and arguments so should be respected the fact that there are right leaning ones who would do just as much, and anyway you don't like dualities...
Regardless, the argument goes that instead of selecting socially engaging , relevant, focused and (at least in intent) progressively-concerned-with-cultural-matters artworks, objects selected for this year's pavilion where so on the basis of their formal qualities, aesthetic resolution and generally un-challenging narratives.
You're afraid this was pretty much a way to summarize the whole Fare Mondi show, fewer works than in the previous selection and (apart from some noticeable and fantastic exception) generally shallow, formalist, striking, yes, with great production values, but over-all unchallenging and hardly examples of newly developed investigations..

Today then you found a review of the Biennale on ExhibArt, by Pier Luigi Sacco, who says about the selection criteria for the Italian component of last biennale by Storr a display of bad research, started and concluded looking at the Italian artists gravitating around the New York scene, while this year curated italian component in Fare Mondi's research started and finished in another curated show by Bonami, Italics, at Palazzo Grassi, also in Venice. After all , he continues, these are busy international curators, with big commitments around the globe, spending time around to meet and asses an artscene it's just out of the badget..
Read for yourselves, page 11

You should get yourself back in the Ludoteca now..
You will post soon a couple of examples of artworks which you believe were fantastic achievements, overall, la Biennale di Venezia wasn't a full disaster..
Back to the ludoteca because that's were you were working together with a fantastic team of master students from sydney and a few more italians who came to help out because of the need..
We unpacked 190 thousands+ vhs tapes, and stacked them one on the top of the other to make a tower of 3x5x5metres tall.

As someone wrote in the official blog, we learned the power of human chains...

Totall respect clare and sean, you truly love the guys, but you cannot shut up any longer: gees guys why does it have to be such a masochistic exercise all the time?
Two years ago was just the same, and sure enough you dived in the same scenario again.
was it worth it?
Such an amazing amount of work, was it worth it?
To anybody coming and looking at the tower it would make no difference if it was full or empty..the difference probably would have been in the number of resources needed.
You are aware that that's what the guys do, but is it necessary?
You know they went to take down a whole house and piled it up down to the last brick in artspace. yet..
You love the finished work, such great, visually striking object, the way it seats in the chapel, the way it truly does represent a visual quantification of time..

You've uploaded a bunch of images from The 53rd Biennale di Venezia on your Flickr, check 'em out.

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