Venice and the Biennale

September 26, 2011 § 2 Comments

Venice, at the mouth of the Grand Canal

I walked down the street today, pensive in the soft autumn air, it was such beautiful light and I felt like I had forgotten to look at the hills and the trees for ages.  A friend of our’s died recently, a gentle, quiet and sincere man who had chosen excellence for all the things he had done in his life.  It really made me think about life and the speed of its passing. Its times like this, I feel urgent to do and be all that I want.

lions head, Venice

Recently we went to Venice and managed to get a half day in at the Venice Biennale.  What we saw, was terribly underwhelming.  I can’t believe the mediocrity of the people who curate this stuff.  It is supposed to be cutting edge but it has so many times been done to death.  Has no one a sense of history anymore.  In the 20’s, the time of deconstruction of art, really memorable stuff happened, like the Dada performance of a woman peeing on stage.  Cubism.  Fauvism. In the 60’s abstract expressionism, pop art.  But why is the ‘in’ thing still to deconstruct and not to recreate out of all the debris that happened.  Why, after nearly a century, are artists still trying to do the same thing and being held on art bureaucrat pedestals for doing it – no skill criteria needed, and certainly, god forbid, no soul, just a good soppy head explanation for it and a fantastic head for marketing.  Boring.  I remember in my student days, over thirty years ago, going to the Sydney Biennale and there was a similar stack of bricks on the floor then too.   I say this, and I want to say, I don’t care.  But I do. I care because art is an expression of humanity and art as is applauded today, says nothing about the greatness of our cultures and society.  In one hundred years are we going to wander around the great cities of the world to admire all the junk that has been made, or are there hidden gems, fresh and beautiful, still to emerge because for now they are out of fashion and still struggling to be heard and seen?  I am sorry, I took no photos of the Venice Biennale.

St Marcos Square, Venice

But Venice was beautiful as was evident to the millions of people tramping the streets and lining the Grand Canal.  People love greatness and will even queue for hours in the broiling sun to tour San Marco’s duomo and the Doges palace.  They’ll spend their last dollars sitting in restaurants on beautiful piazzas with romantic music being played to them, sipping on bellinis, because it all touches the soul.

Venice, workshop

Venice, small canal with gondola

And when it is real, it does touch the soul.  And it is in these times that  excellence makes sense.  That striving for the ultimate creation of your life is really important because it is something you can leave behind for civilisations to grow upon.  Then we can die.  We can die because we have made life grow.

carnival masks in Venice shop window

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