Venice: Biennial Contemporary Art Exhibition (3/4)

Written by Harold McNeill on March 11th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


Note: The following four part Travelogue is from a tour Lynn and I made in 2009. It was first posted live to Facebook and is being reposted here along with more photographs taken during the trip.

A City of Art

It was not possible to spend nearly a week in Venice without being influenced by the art. It was our good fortune to land in the city right in the middle of the Biennale Contemporary Art Exhibition, an exhibition that has been staged almost continuously for over the past 100 years. The several hundred displays sprinkled throughout the city seemed to focus mostly on social issues around the world and one could barely travel a block without being drawn into an temporary or permanent exhibit.

While I am no critic and there is much I do not understand about contemporary art, during the viewing of hundreds of paintings, sketches, photos, sculptures, carvings, as well as music, dance, film and other avante guard art forms around the city, it was not possible to be anything but deeply moved by the many inequities and social injustices that have occurred, and continue to occur, in virtually every country of the world. The Canadian presentations – one that focused on skid-row of the downtown East Side of Vancouver and another involving the native community – brought into close focus inequities that exist in our own country.

I suppose tapping into deep emotions is the objective of contemporary art as the artists attempt to shock the viewer into gaining another perspective on our world. The feelings evoked in me were strong, even when filtered through the lens of the affluence to which many of us have become so accustomed in Canada, the United States and many of the countries through which we have traveled.

In order to insert some of our own experience of the contrasts, included are a few photos of the extreme affluence we noted in some European cities, one in particular being a three block section of Zurich referred to as the Bahnhofstrasse 84, where the ostentatious display of wealth was beyond my understanding.  The story of Zurich will be posted later.

Following then, are just a few samples of the art on display in Venice and while the photos do not capture the real emotion of the scenes, they do capture a bit of the emotion we felt when living in the scene.

Links to other Venice articles:

Venice: City on Water (1/4)

Venice: Festa del Redentore (2/4)

Venice: Travel Planning (4/4)

Harold

Photos Below:  

Biennale Contemporary Art Exhibition
Photo Essay

Windows on a Garden.
A series of paintings that were so real one had to walk close to check whether it was glass with sculptures
on the other side, or whether they were paintings.

Standing in the room with these life sized paintings of a decaying world covering two connecting walls,
was a very moving experience. This expereienc was repeated dozens of times over several days.

Broken mirrors covered the four walls of this room.

Room after room in several large buildings house scenes that covered the floors, walls and ceilings.
It was a never ending display of interesting contemporary art scenes.

Life sized neon scenes such as this covered another pavilion.

Yet another pavilion housed giant, brightly coloured, scuplted, plasticine figurines. In some area’s the
figurines were set in fascinating, moving displays.

Every pavilion presented scene that were not easily defined as to meaning.
Note the ‘flying saucer’ in the top of the photo.
Perhaps a life form from another planet looking down on a devastated earth?

Many of the paintings and photos were extremely moving.

This painting was part of series with the same theme.

Gothic Scene

Untitled

Teenaged girl living in a devastated world

The jewelery in this display could easily total over $1,000,000. At the entrance to the store
was a doorman dressed in formal attire who greeted each customer. In once instance three girls in their early teens, dressed in every expensive designer clothes, were dropped off by a limousene after the uniformed driver opened their door. They giggled, as girls in their early teen’s often do, then entered the store for an afternoon of shopping.

The price of these watches ranged to over $100,000 each. Displays such as the two above
were repeated with various products in block after block of upscale boutiques.

.

Cafeteria

Lynn relaxes while I pick up lunch

While these rooms were extremely interesting, it was not easy to actually relax

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

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    […] Part I, Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation. Part II, Comparing police cultures and implementing change Part III, The past as a guide to the future Part IV The integration of police services […]

  • Harold McNeill

    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

    I’ve copied just one sentence from Mulligan’s longer discussion, “And I think people don’t like the idea that somebody who’s, for example, was drunk and ran into you and you become a quadriplegic is going to be treated exactly the same way you would in terms of getting benefits (go to minute 00:15:26 to see his full comment)

    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    January 5, 2020 |

    […] 28. The past as a guide to the future (Part III): Over the past 60 years, many activities the police once performed as a natural part of their daily duty, eventually became incompatible with achieving their basic goals. What happened? (August 2019) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories Why I stand with science? - McNeill Life Stories

    November 11, 2019 |

    […] During the Ice Age, the Earth’s average temperature was about 12 degrees Fahrenheit colder than it is today. That was enough to keep snow from melting during the summers in northern regions. As snow fell on the snow, glaciers formed. (NASA Earth Observatory) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories How to Game an Election - McNeill Life Stories

    September 18, 2019 |

    […] The Federal Conservatives and Seymour Riding Association complied but one day later those memes will be shared by every third party social media site and by thousands of supporters where the message will be taken as a statements of the fact.  Five years from now those memes will still be circulating. (Link here to background on the SNC Lavalin matter) […]