Art from Asia and the Venice Biennale 2011

Not to miss: Future Pass at the Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam, until 11 March 2012.

First day Giardini, second day Arsenale; that is the usual plan at the Venice Art Biennale. Satisfaction varies per time, with the Arsenale offering fresher works including works of not established artists making the whole thing more interesting. Of course there are all the other exhibition spots spread in Venice; this we leave for last as best part but also as a random search for something remarkable.

The presentations easily fall into categories: the guided path (see Greece, Netherlands, Austria), the accumulation of things (everything out of the closet  of the former Communist block), the outspoken constructions meant to support a usually banal idea (France), the curator’s dream executed by an artist-tool (Belgium/ in this case the curator is also an artist), the very personal vision of an artist or group of artists that had the luck to be shared with the curator’s vision and of course the wide spread no-object art, the big basket where we can throw nearly everything unless the artist(s) make a significant effort other-way.  Most interesting pavilions: the Japanese pavilion, the Korean pavilion with the impressive high tech flowers-hiding-soldiers and just across, the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic pavilion with an atmospheric presentation of traditional sculptures attached to cold-war-movie furniture, mostly cupboards, tables and chairs.

"The Love is gone but the Scar will heal", Republic of Korea
"The Sleeping City", Czech and Slovak pavilion

The Arsenale is an endless path by itself. It takes a lot of courage to walk through it. These photographs are just an indication of the space.

across the water (only by boat), the last bit of Arsenale

Once the main show is consumed we are free to wander in the city of Venice and discover more intriguing things; always faithful to the official Biennale map though. I don’t know if it is the mind that is more limited or the physical strength to walk up and down, in and out buildings, vaporettos, stairs and bridges.  Sometimes luck helps to find something so contenting that you don’t need to see anything else; mission accomplished. This is what happened with us three that unanimously ended our tour at the exhibition Future Pass- from Asia to the world. Of the texts that accompany the exhibits, I keep phrases as “curated from an Asian perspective”, “presenting not only an artistic ‘nation'”, “a meeting of different cultures, ages and personalities”, “works employ a variety of media- from painting, interactive installation, animation and video to sculpture, live performance and body art-, defying any attempt to classify them”. Next to these there are many statements that could start big discussions; provoke skepticism. However, Future Pass has at least one of the characteristics of the avant-guarde. It works liberating on our European-Western perspective and our established ideas about what is art or even more good art. It mixes without any reservation brilliant painters with questionable ones; it allows them to use (god forbid) oil paint on canvas and throws in the garbage all the rules of high aesthetics carefully cultivated during the 20th century and still holding on in our side of the world. It respects equally high-tech and hand made works, new materials and traditional techniques; it shows them all together in a real browsing through nowadays art. Of course it proposes its own aesthetic types; arty souls beware!

The exhibit, adjusted to fit the space of the Wereldmuseum, will be in Holland until 11 March. These are photographs of the Venice show seconded by the current Dutch version. Keep in mind that the first was in semi open space though the second is a total interior.

"Eggs" by Zhao Guanghui
"Little carefree, the chicken girl" by Chiho Aoshima
general view in Venice (left)/ in Rotterdam (right)

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