Recently I met up with some old friends, all of whom have children and these very stable, contained lives. Seeing them with their families was beautiful, almost regrettably so, and for a moment I envied them. I don't know why, but I didn't get that gene. You know it---the one that makes people crave routine and desire the predictable. Luckily, the next day, as I shared my feelings with a dear friend, I was reminded of the value those of us who choose to walk alone also have; that while some of us are sent here to pass on strong threads of family tradition and reap the benefits of roots and grounding, there are others that are here for a different reason.
Okay fine. I admit it. One of my closest friends works for this artist and I AM American, so maybe I'm playing favorites. But if you've never seen Sze's work up close and personal (other than in the closet of the Hort collection I hadn't), then it's time to do it in Italy. I'm not sure if Sze designs her installations to be fraught with meaning or to function as a critique on society, but this is how I see her disorienting and carefully crafted microcosms that weave into architectural wonders.
Years ago, when the powers that be decided to assign the buildings for the Venice Biennale, some insightful person must have thought: "I have a great idea. Let's save visitors some trouble so that in 2013 they will only have to take about ten steps to see the two best artists the city has to offer. We know they are going to be lazy. We've seen how they completely bi-pass the whole relationship thing and substitute it with a cellular device, so surely they will want to skip out on moving through the city. Plus,we know that group exhibition might be a bit much, so let's pack a punch." Alright, maybe it didn't go that way, but in my head it did.
Five video projections lead the visitor through the space, giving the impression of scaling and then entering a mountain with a group of men and women that, as it turns out, arrive on the other side to create sculptures within the pavilion: the same space from which you are viewing the work. Witness the artists mushing and molding clay busts of themselves while murmuring strange noises into microphones inserted into their heads (the busts, not their own).
Anyone who has known me for more than five minutes will quickly assess that I'm more into beauty than blood and guts, and I've been known to walk away from a violent or aggressive piece of art before giving it a fighting chance. I'm a big believer in selecting the images we expose ourselves to (that's another article), so it speaks volumes for Quinn that a sensitive soul like myself can't help but acknowledge the strength of this artist.
Mosse's photographs and video are bright, colorful, painterly, and crisp. After entering this collateral show off the beaten path, prepare to be greeted by landscapes filled with fluorescent pinks, warm reds, and electric blues and greens. Prickly trees sporadically intersect rolling hills and winding water.
The artist works his way through the area capturing rebel fighters, both alive and dead, and other occupants of this lush but deadly region. Mosse's work is a reminder that all that glitters is not gold. Our senses are easily deceived by beauty, a notion that serves as a manipulative tactic for those in power and one that often functions as an illusive veneer for a frightening reality.
Based on the concept of a worldly encyclopedia, a dream envisioned by an Italian-American artist named Marino Auriti circa 1955, Gioni brings together, in two sprawling spaces split between the Arsenale and Giordini, museum quality works, both old and new, to catalog our evolution through images. Via more than 150 artists from over 37 countries, Gioni weaves a story that is nearly impossible to tell, akin to climbing Mount Everest, but he succeeds through the use of understandable yet sophisticated wall text and engaging artworks that are logically arranged.
I suspect that Gioni's "Palace" will be talked about in history books as the moment the art world collectively woke up, recognizing that the the next step in our evolution, creatively, is to find a way to sift through the noise that has resulted from what we see and consume; that art is magical and it is the artist, proclaimed as such or not, who is here providing us with ways to bridge the physical with the ethereal; and that we are at a turning point, pushing past the material, and it's been our artists' projections through an array of media that has gotten us here. Art, in any form, is a manifestation of a source tied to imagination, a creative component of our higher selves, each with a power of its own.
Well, that's it, my grand top five. I'm not David Letterman so ten seems excessive and, as you know, I need to keep moving. Get back to tending the lawn or head to your nine to five---whatever it is you grounded types do. I'll meet you in back in Miami...arrivederci!