Tuesday, 4 July 2017


a system for mass producing life-size Christ's made of mould, raining inside a building, a football sized reflection of a factory, a room of wool, an alternative history of Alien human interaction, truly huge projections in post industrial settings, questioning of questionable person aesthetics and national values, giant statements in Nationalistic settings  - it must be Venice Biennale... as Christine Macel states in the catalogue 'art bears witness to the most precious part of what makes us human at a point when humanism is precisely jeopardised, art is the ultimate ground for reflection'. four days in Venice going to the Biennale exhibition gives one a real sense that artist are doing their job, observing, pointing out, calling to order and celebrating what it is to be human. The highlight was the 2 hour performance in the German Pavilion by Anne Imhof. It was stunning, challenging and thoughtful, the room divided in such a way allowed performers to move under the audience, performing tasks while we observed and always out of control. Then there was the Spanish Pavilion which celebrated nomadic culture through a group that supports their rights - the idea of a DICKtatorship and the COCKocracy of our lives was wonderful. Most Nations pavilions looked at where we are now and if felt that those that didn't missed out on the opportunity to actually say something.  

the whole Arsenale space felt highly curated and as an audience member one was taken on an excellent journey. Some of the work that sticks is .....Shimabukn's Snow Monkey video which comments on isolation and dislocation from what we understand, Guan Xiao's David asks do we know anything anymore? Kader Attia moving and physical representation of transgender voice pattern through Indian movies. There is lots of what could be described as cultural appropriation but the work of Enrique Ramirez felt genuine and heartfelt but then it was filmed in an extraordinary space. lots of artists working with the book and showing their working process Sam Lewitt's work with light as books was an example of both, Jeremy Shaw explore states of transgender the moving documentary got to the heart of searching for meaning but constantly failing.....mournful, Pauline Curnier Jardin gave me my laugh out loud moment - in her film a woman lifts her skirt to reveal the head of Jesus talking to her from within her pubic hair, at first the cute video by Nevin Aladag of instruments being played by street furniture and children's playground rides was fun and frivolous but the absence of musicians started to take on a sinister tone. There is some excellent Book Art from around the world included in the main exhibition in the Arsenale - starting with a great show of work by John Latham, the obsessive notebooks of Abdullah Al Saadi, exquisite paintings of books by Liu Ye, glowing coloured books by Geng Jianyi, the truly gorgeous textile books of Maria Lai, the stunning research project around the idea of book as symbol by Sam Lewit , the solid earth books by Michelle Stuart and the obsessive text works of Irma Blank

2 days seeing collateral pavilions around Venice and I'm left with thoughts of the Welsh and Scottish Pavilions spinning in my head. Already a fan of Rachael Maclean but her video was gloriously blunt to the point of obvious when creating a fairytale for our time with good and evil well in their place. James Richards representing Wales has a combination of sound, video and print that worked so well in the space and with great content it was just beautiful.

then there was Damien Hirst at Punta Della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi - Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable Damien Hirst - excessive, unnecessary, brash  and overbearing but truly wonderful. The whole pointless show has clues if you look for them armed with a little bit of pop culture knowledge - an Egyptian goddess revealed itself through its tattoos to be Riannon, the likeness to Farrell Williams on another is startling, bodies based on Barbie, one of the weapons has to be out of a video game and I'm sure John Merrick was the model for Proteus - it is truly excessive - go see. I wish there was a book revealing all the hidden stories - I would buy.