Accueil > LIVE FROM THE VENICE BIENNALE
Jacopo Robusti detto Tintoretto
Bice Curiger's curated show spread over the former Italian Pavilion in the Giardini and extended through much of the Arsenale. As Curiger's theme/title ILLUMInations suggests, the aim is to shed light on the contemporary art scene. Surprisingly, the visitor is introduced to this with three paintings by the great 16th-century Venetian Jacopo Tintoretto, placed at the entrance to the central Pavilion. By foregrounding Tintoretto, a master Venetian painter working with light and color, Curiger set a standard against which her selections of contemporary art might be compared. What is one to see in this contemporary paragone? That Tintoretto cannot be superseded? That painting continues to dominate a hierarchy of media? That artists and viewers should never lose sight of history and context? A visitor might approach the curated sections of this Biennale with these thoughts.
An interest in grand narrative was also in evidence in several of the national pavilions, where opera proved a useful structure for several artists:
Iceland's Libia Castro and Olafur Olafsson filmed an opera singer floating down the canals of Venice in a gondola, singing "Your Country Does Not Exist" to bemused Venetians and startled tourists.
The Netherlands structured its pavilion as an opera house, and many of the accompanying texts used opera to structure analysis of Dutch modernity.
Everyone from Calvin and Rembrandt to Lully and Mondrian are brought in to demonstrate the linkages between drama and money, creativity and consensus in Dutch arts.
The German pavilion reprised the installation of Christoph Schlingensief's 2008 Fluxus Oratorio, and presented documentation on the Opera Village in Burkino Faso that Schlingensief was working on at his death in 2010.
It sounds absurd at first, but most operas have pretty thin plots, and car accidents are more present to the lives of 21st-century audiences than ghosts and mistaken identities.
Preston Thayer (New Mexico State University) and Marjorie Och (University of Mary Washington) reporting from the 54th Biennale di Venezia.