Some of the most exciting work displayed at the 55th Venice Biennale comes from Latin America and Alfredo Jaar’s immersive site-specific installation, Venezia, Venezia is an evocative and critical intervention that questions how today’s culture, composed of increasingly complex global networks, can be adequately represented at this iconic, international art exhibition.
Venezia, Venezia creates an environment of striking visual and somatic encounters. It begins with an obstruction: a suspended 2.5 x 2.5 m lightbox photograph captures the Argentine-born Italian artist Lucio Fontana in 1946 on his return to Milan following the devastation of World War II. The intrepid 20th century artist is poised precariously amidst the catastrophic evidence of his destroyed studio – the ruins of a site of creative and critical activity.
Beyond this unsettling image, stairs lead the viewer over a structure recalling the iconic bridges of Venice to an ominous pool of dark water. From this pool, the complex conditions of art and globalism arise in the form of a perfect replica of the Giardini –historically the original site of the Venice Biennale – and their first 28 foreign pavili ons. Approximately every three minutes, the spectral embodiment of the Biennale breaks through the surface of the water and peers through just long enough to be recognised before it swiftly descends into the dark water and imminent obscurity. The artist has created a future where the Giardini have disappeared. In their brief emergence, they are a ghost from history.
Jaar’s installation is a poetic invitation to rethink the Venice Biennale model. The pavilions and their archaic rigidity dissolving into the depths of water reflect the manner in which these pavilions have lost their meaning in the fluidity of today’s world culture. Water acts as the tragic agent of sudden deluge, as well as an enduring symbol of renewal: a utopia is created the very instant the Giardini vanish, and the space of the pool becomes a historical opportunity for rebirth.
An installation by Alfredo Jaar for the Pavilion of Chile | Arsenale
Curated by Madeleine Grynsztejn
55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia
Exhibition: 1 June – 24 November 2013
Read More About the 55th Venice Biennale Here