Side events at Venice Biennial...


07/10/17 - Due to the lack of space at Arsenale and Giardini, other exhibitions related to the Venice's Biennial are held in basilicas, monasteries and palaces throughout the city. The exhibitions included in what is known as Eventi Collaterali (side events) are 23. Here the ones you can not miss...

"One and One makes Three", by Michelangelo Pistoletto: In the island of san Giorgio Maggiore, inside the basilica with the same name, there's a retrospective of Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto. He works obsessively with the number three, as we can see in the title of the exhibition, and many of his artworks are related to that number. Example of this are two mirrors facing each other that create an illusion that generates the word THREE in Italian (TRE).

"One and One makes Three" - Michelangelo Pistoletto
The most importante piece of the exhibition is also made of mirrors and is placed right in front of the altar. It's a circular installation with hanging mirrors that distort our perception. The artist explores issues related to tolerance and respect in our society and these concepts are reflected in the illusion created by the mirrors, in which we see ourselves but also those that surround us. In addition to the installation at the basilica, which is evidently the star of the exhibition, the corridors towards the sacristy display "La Habana, People Waiting", another artwork on a polished surface. Pistoletto visited Cuba in 2015 and came up with the idea of a piece that represented the Cuban society, specially their traditions and clothing
One and One makes Three" - Michelangelo Pistoletto
"La Habana, People Waiting", by Michelangelo Pistoletto (2015)

Technique: silkscreen on super mirror / Measures: 250 x 550 cm
Behind the altar there's a small artwork placed inside an acrylic box which protects two stainless steel plaques. In one of them we see Michelangelo's hand of God as depicted on the Sixtine Chapel, which is reflected on the other plaque.
ConTatto, by Michelangelo Pistoletto (2007)

Technique: silkscreen on polished stainess / Measures: 22 x 16 x 23 cm
In a back room, another mirror creates the illusion of a staircase. And finally we find one of the most renowned of his artworks: the Venus of the rags of 1967. It's a replica of a statue by Thorvaldsen,  which is surrounded by a mountain of rags. The sculpture represents the beauty of Classic culture, while the rags show our reality: we accumulate garbage and everything is quickly out of fashion. The Venus, in her timeless beauty, stands in the way of our uncontrollable consumerism. This is one of the most characteristic pieces of the Arte Povera period of the artist and the spearhead of Pop Art
Venus of the rags, by Michelangelo Pistoletto (1967)
Materials: cement, enamel, rags / Measures: 190 x 240 x 140 cm

Jan Fabre – Murano Glass and Bone Sculptures 1977-2017: This exhibition walks through the artworks of Jan Fabre from his early beginnings, which results in a spiritual and philosophical contemplation of life and death. The most shocking aspect is that he only uses bones and glass as working materials. He chose glass, and that made in Murano, for his metaphoric transparency. The use of bones marks Fabre's return to the Flamish artists, who used to include codes through bones, specially skulls. A way to join the past with the present. The exhibition is held at a monastery and at the entrance we find a large green beetle surrounded, in the spaces below the roof, by lots of glass pigeons.
Holy Dung Beetle with laurel tree, by Jan Fabre (2017)
Murano glass / Measures: 155 x 92 x 84 cm
"Murano, Glass and Bone Sculptures", by Jan Fabre
In the cloisters we discover different objects made with human and animal bones. In spite of the material, the beauty of the objects is undeniable. We see monk's habits made with bones and a boat, as the one in Mythology, that takes us to our final dwelling. The oars have blue glass hands in one of their ends. In the following room, the skeletons of dead dogs can be too heartbreaking. Fabre returns to the death-vanitas with expertise, a subject more and more common in Contemporary art due to our pursuit for a longer life.
"Murano, Glass and Bone Sculptures", by Jan Fabre

Canoeby Jan Fabre (1991)

Materials: Murano glass, animal and human bones, bic ink  / Measures: 177,5 x 683,3 x 220 cm

The Catacombs of the dead street dogs, by Jan Fabre (2009-2007)
Materials: Murano glass, dogs skeletons, stainless steel / Variable dimensions
The exhibition is very interesting and the instructions are quite severe as to the distance that must be kept from the pieces. This is enhanced by an exaggerated number of security guards protecting them. The series of skulls with the glass skeletons of little animals is terrifying, yet we can not get our eyes of them. 
Skull with skeleton of a woodpecker bird,  by Jan Fabre
Materials: Murano glass with skull and stainless steel
Skull with skeleton of a squirrelby Jan Fabre
Materials: Murano glass with skull and stainless steel

General view of the exhibition, top floor

James Lee Byars, The Golden Tower:  It is said that American artist James Lee Byars wanted  this 20 mts golden tower to be a lighthouse between the sky and the earth, uniting mankind. This is Byars'  first open space artwork. Due to the characteristics of the city, it can be seen from almost everywhere, so it truly acts like a lighthouse-object.

The Golden Tower, by James Lee Byars
Campo San Vio
Future Generation Art Prize: Victor Pinchuk Foundation presents an exhibition gathering 21 young artists at the Palazzo Contarini. We will mention only three of them. One of them is Georgian Vajiko Chachkiani, the same that created such an original pavilion for his country at Arsenale. Here he presents a video in which we see a man dragging a huge statue with his pickup till total destruction.  Although the piece could be a historic figure, it is interesting to see its physical similarities with the driver, who, together with his dog, takes the statue around different landscapes, like in a road movie.   As the sculptures destroys itself, we sense a liberating feeling in the man, and also in the spectators. You can see part of the video here.
Another interesting artwork is that by Ej Hill, located in the garden of the palazzo. As we enter the room in the lower floor, we see this wooden structure that looks like a scaffolding. However, from the higher floors our vision changes and we realize that it's in fact a precarious rollercoaster. In the US rollercoasters are part of the culture of family fun.

Pillar, by Ej Hill (2017)
Materials: wood and rubber / Variable dimensions
Last but not least, Phoebe Boswell from Kenya, who received an award for the artwork she displays here in one of the top floors. Although the participation of visitors is not asked directly, the installation needs to be activated, so it might remain unnoticed if visitors pay no attention. The room presents a surface with sensors, like a kind of stage, on which we must walk to activate a series of speakers with female voices in different tones.  In the walls we see drawings of female bodies, most of them in a standing position. According to the artist, the installation remembers the eldery women of a tribe in Uganda, who use their naked bodies to protest against exploitation and ask for the property of their lands.

Mutumia, by Phoebe Boswell (2016)
Interactive installation

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Liliana Wrobel

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Carla Mitrani