The 52nd International Art Exhibition - The Venice Biennale - opened officially on Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. and we were there. This year's theme is "Think with the Senses - Feel with the Mind. Art in the Present Tense." Thrilling, fascinating, and thought-provoking are the best words I have to describe what I've seen and experienced so far. Finally, it's all about the art.
This year, 77 countries are represented at the two main venues - the Giardini, Venice's lush and green public gardens which are transformed into the most important contemporary art exhibition in the world every two years, the Arsenale, the former military ship-building facility which this year houses, along with much more, a major African exhibit, the first time Africa has participated - and at numerous palazzos throughout the city. I have only just had a taste - delicious.
The show is manageable - well-laid out in individual nation pavilions, the attendees also representing the nations of the world are polite, the rest rooms are clean, Illy Caffe passes out free espresso shots all day and free cups of water are there for the taking, too. There are no "art cops" - it is a civilized experience clearly designed so that viewers get the very most out of their visits. Chris, Wanda, and Gill - you are in for an incredible treat.
Highlights for me so far have been Spain - Gill, wait 'til you see it - Russia and, I must say, the U.S. pavilion does our home country proud. The work is all by one artist, Felix Gonzalez-Torres who, unfortunately died of AIDS while still in his 30s. I believe he is one of a very few artists ever to have been represented at the Biennale posthumously.
The new photo - posted to the left - is by Antonio Bruceno. He is Venezuelan and his photos of native people leave you breathless.