A glorious day; even if it did threaten to be a bit drippy, it never quite followed though. Between the ground that must be covered to get your press pass, the many square kilometers of the Giardini, the expansive Arsenale, and seemingly endless number of exhibitions that take place there, composed of and constructed from every conceivable form of medium imaginable — a day is barely enough to get started. I love the corderie (where all the ropes for Venetian vessels were once hewn and wound), a soaring space, which as you walk it presents you with once concept after another: some massive, some grouped, some walk through, some painted, some constructed, some inscrutable, some in your face. “It’s a photograph,” comments one onlooker. “I did one of these at university. Everything old is new again.” Contrast the ancient Corderie with a bright, blooming Giardini, dotted with pavilions large and small, each devoted to a single country, each proudly hosting this year’s representative exhibition.
But expression will not be confined, and neither will the Biennale. It’s as if exhibitions have rained down over the city, searching for a suitable space — and if there was one, it now hosts some irrepressible form of contemporary expression: palaces like the Prada-restored Corner, the Scuola della Misericordia, the Palazzo Grassi, the Fortuny; others like the Punto della Dogana, and more, and more. Sure, some are renovated for hotels, some hold regular concerts for tourists. But it seems the Biennale knew that these spaces were also ideal for something a bit more — vibrant — and has managed to bring the point home.
Whether the works are new or revived, comprehensible or less so, it’s a joyous thing for lots of reasons, this Biennale, not the least of which is being a catalyst in bringing old structures back to life and filling them with enough contemporary expression and vitality to the degree that every journalist who had the mean, the commission and who could spell the word “art” is here to see just what emerging artists from almost every country in the world have to say.
The former queen of Cyprus would be quite proud, I’d imagine. Do you think she’s keeping an eye out?