It may be that any Biennial, having a Director whose job is like herding cats (the curators of the national pavillions), is by definition a mixed bag, structurally unable to express any coherent artistic vision. That’s what I came away with after visiting this year’s Venice Biennale, “Making Worlds”, directed by Daniel Birnbaum; in addition to the unpleasant feeling that most of it was looking backwards, instead of straight ahead into the future.
The following day, I visited François Pinault’s new contemporary art center at the Punta della Dogana (pictured), which hosts half of an exhibition titled “Mapping the Studio” (with the rest at Palazzo Grassi). It was everything that the Biennale wasn’t. Instead of the decaying infrastructure of the Giardini and the Arsenale, a freshly restored vast and luminous space, bearing the marks of Tadao Ando’s loving care (and, of course, ample funding by Monsieur Pinault). Instead of a cacophony of voices, a clear curatorial point of view: sure, a provocative, controversy-seeking one at times, but nevertheless an artistic vision, a show of teamwork between the collector and his curators, Gingeras and Bonami. A cross-section of what’s at the edge of artistic creation today, mediated by a discerning taste. Even the works from the 1970s and 1980s seemed fresh and contemporary.
Walking through the Biennale felt like work; visiting the (admittedly much smaller) Punta della Dogana was sheer pleasure.
And how was it for you?