HaggBridge.com

03 Jun, 2009

World’s top artists head for Venice

Posted by: admin In: Guardian

Don’t expect to bump into anyone from the British art world this week: the entire tribe has flown these shores. It’s the opening of the Venice Biennale – the bellini-soaked gathering of the international clan of artists, curators, critics, dealers and collectors. The parties are numerous, and fun, but they are a sideshow: the biennale is a moment when artists really push the boat out with their best work.

Each nation fields an artist to compete for the Golden Lion, the art equivalent of the Palme d’Or; artists show their work in little pavilions dotted around the Venetian public gardens, the Giardini. This year, Britain is represented by Steve McQueen, whose debut feature film, Hunger, first screened to general acclaim at the 2008 Cannes festival. His work for Venice is a closely guarded secret, but all will be revealed when the first VIPs see his film (we’re assuming that’s what it is) this morning.

The US, meanwhile, has commissioned Bruce Nauman; Germany has the British artist Liam Gillick, who has produced much of his work there; and the Russian pavilion is this year presenting a group show under the title of Victory, which promises to be highly contentious. Andrei Molodkin will pour blood and oil into hollow glass sculptures shaped like the Victory of Samothrace, the famous antique sculpture. Another artist in the show is Alexey Kallima, born in Grozny, whose past work has provided trenchant comment on recent Chechen history.

A more gently ironic approach is expected from the irreverent artists Elmgreen and Dragset. The Danish/Norwegian pair were approached to create installations for both the Danish and the Nordic pavilions. Instead of turning one down, they persuaded the commissioners to take a transnational approach and let them do both. They have transformed their pavilions into a pair of art collectors’ houses – the Nordic a chic, modernist bachelor pad; the Danish a slightly run-down, rather Hitchcockian environment.

The Nordic pavilion, says Michael Elmgreen, “will contain artworks that are queer-related, such as photographs by Wolfgang Tillmans”. All is not well, though: in the pavilion’s swanky swimming pool (think David Hockney’s LA), “our collector is floating face down. He got punished for his hedonistic lifestyle.”

The Danish pavilion, meanwhile, will have a For Sale sign outside. “There’s a telephone number you can ring if you want to buy it, and we have a real-estate agent to give tours,” says Elmgreen. The national pavilions of the Giardini, he adds, “would make swanky houses, but most of them are shit as art spaces”.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2009 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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