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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  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.