things that don't hurt to put in your eyes.

6.08.2009

Venice Biennale 2009



Photos taken from The Daily Beast
Installation in Nordic Pavillion by Elmgreen and Dragset; "Fifteen Pairs of Hands" Bruce Nauman; "Think" Bruce Nauman
Everyone knows that the art world is a little on the ailing side (or did you not get that impression when the Whitney Biennale centered a lot of their curatorial discourse on the theme of "failure?") so with the 53rd Venice Biennale upon us hopes are high and breath is bated.
I haven't yet scoured through enough of the Biennale art to really note my high and low points, but I would like to comment on the curatorial theme. The curator for this year's biennale is Daniel Birnbaum, who's large group exhibition "Making Worlds" redefines art as representing a vision of the world rather than just another commodity. 
I've recently read how the position of head curator of the Venice Biennale is sort of a mixed blessing and curse. On the one hand, it's a huge honor. On the other, you really can't win. No matter how much time and effort you put in to making the most perfect biennale the world's ever known, there are always going to be critics. And, further, fitting the worlds' best art under one analytical theme can inevitably only lead one to create a lamentably broad and vague theme. 
And that's kind of the bone I have to pick with Mr. Birnbaums overarching idea. The idea that art is a vision of the world, or as some of us laymen like to say, a perspective, and not simply a commodity just seems ...I mean it just seems like such an underwhelming statement that I feel like I'm missing something very huge. Art is one's vision of the world. C'mon! Is that not law by now? I feel like someone taught me that in grade school. What am i missing!??!!!
I would have really liked to have seen a much more progressive theme to help jump start (or atleast give the impression of a forward-moving direction) contemporary art. Reasserting that art is the artist's vision of the world is so painstakingly safe that it just...I mean, really, before I continue--am I missing something?? 
From the few peices I've seen, there's  a lot of dismemberment and discontinuation in the pieces being shown currently. I think a great theme would have been exactly that--Dismemberment. I think there are a lot of directions a word like that could go, theoretically and formally, and it could have really gotten into matters of artistic practice in an increasingly technological world. 

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