It seemed like a good idea at the time: After a long day looking at work and talking to folks, why not tag along with some people more glamorous than we are and head to the Dark Side Club, a nightly series of gatherings organized around the Biennale. Hard to get an invite? Cool! Starts at 11 and continues all night? We’re not as old as we look, dammit! In a fantastic palazzo that no one can seem to find? Right on! Prosecco and chocolates? Hell, yeah! Lectures to a silent and reverential crowd at midnight? Ahem… Read More
From our roving correspondent Alex Gorlin, who was party-hopping the other night:
Among the guests at Aaron Betsky’s 50th birthday celebration on Thursday were Henry Urbach, curator of Architecture at SFMOMA, Laurie Beckelman, UCLA’s Sylvia Lavin (who was complaining to Jeff Kipnis about the mosquitoes), Susan Grant Lewin the PR Queen—she barely made the “haj” to the party—the Modern’s Barry Bergdoll with Bill Ryall, his partner, Reed Kroloff and Casey Jones. Last and certainly not least was Katherine Gustafson, the Zaha of landscape design, who appeared in a regally flowing white toga-like gown. The setting was her “Garden of Paradise” at the Arsenale, a coyly-renamed installation in the Garden of Virgins, with vegetables and flowers culminating in a swirling ridge of grassy mounds above which floated giant white ballons and what looked like the remains of a parachute. All in all, an elegant evening, although with no lights on, it was pitch black and so far away that one can only imagine half the guests, a little tipsy perhaps, falling into canals on the trek home.
The Belgians avoided the politics and gravity that many of the installations are putting front and center, and their pavilion is a fantastic break. On its surface—the boxy, galvanized, and opaque surface—the project celebrates the 100th anniversary country’s first entry into a Venice Biennale. Inconveniently for them, that anniversary was last year, but feh! If you want to celebrate, don’t let the details get in the way! (We happen to share that philosophy.) Read More
Sarah Palin isn’t the only one with pipelines on the brain: The Estonian installation in the Giardini recreates a section of Gazprom’s proposed Nord Stream pipeline, that would run directly from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea. Naturally, some of the Baltic countries aren’t wildly enthusiastic about this. Estonia doesn’t have a pavilion of it’s own, but that may be a good thing. The group placed a 63-meter-long yellow pipe running from the entry of the Russian pavilion:
Goes straight past the Japan pavilion (hey, geographical accuracy isn’t the point):
And spits out—you guessed it—directly in front of the imposing German pavilion: Read More
There are no singing nymphs and naiads wandering around—Philippe Rahm seems to have cornered the market on those—but the Penezic & Rogina project in the Arsenale has an echo of Italo Calvino’s invisible city of Armilla, whose only form is tubs and toilets and copper pipes, and whose citizens are the aforementioned maidens. The P & R installation actually kicks it up a notch, and takes in the digital and mechanical systems of a typical house as well, but as far as we know, there aren’t any nymphs in the future, which is a shame, so we allowed ourselves a moment to look back.
The maze-like Italian Pavillion hold the work of more than two dozen architects from all over the world, and while the vast majority of it was not produced for the Biennale, it is well worth tasking the time to get lost inside. It starts out impressively: The grand entrance hall, wallpapered in a dense hot orange-and-white graphic print, frames a spare and enigmatic installation by Ai Wei Wei and Herzog & de Meuron.A framework of massive bamboo poles supports a series of tiny bamboo chairs that are seemingly strapped into place. When I wandered through, it was still very much in progress—stacks of raw material were piled on one side of the room, and while a few assistants had knocked off work to check out something on the computer, the three artists were taking a walk-through to check it. Read More