Conservatorio Marcello




Great Britain


Azerbaijan 'Love me Love me Not'

Palazzo Falier

Palazzo Grassi

Fondazione Querini Stampalia

Imran Querishi

Biennale Book Arts


Swarovski, San Giorgio Magiori


Other Biennale Artists


Lenore's Favorites: Giardini Location

Brazil Pavilion: Book art made from professional directories— four open books make a square, with pages interleaved to make a striking progressive square in the center. Other sculptural shapes are created from the interleaved pages of several books, or of a book whose covers are tied together. Other installations: a wall patterned with razon blades, another with Mickey Mouse statuettes, and a third with camera cases.

USA Pavilion: Delicate and intricate collage sculptures created in place by American artist Sarah Sze. Rocks are held by string to other rocks, some strings making exactly parallel lines. A loom like structure with threads of all hues and woof/warp areas, another with miniscule containers of paints. Each collage structure contains (rough guess) more than 500 pieces—paper, wire, glass, plastic—ordinary things. Electric fans move delicate ribbons. Her tool boxes, sketches, and work table fill one room.

Central Pavilion: Mostly less interesting than 2011 when Venice for example created a spectacular installation interpreting the canals and gondolas with lights and shapes.However, there were for me 3 standouts in 2013:

1. The scrapbooks of Japanese artist Shinro Ohtake are striking collages from many years of collecting urban debris and flotsam. Books of all sizes and shapes— colorful and striking, and sculptural.

2. Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi has adapted the ancient techniques of miniaturist painting to modern subjects in his elegant portraits. So we see young man in cargo pants, another with a messenger bag.

3. A collection of miniature models of houses by Peter Fritz discovered by Oliver Croy in a junk shop. Carefully and meticulously created over many years, the models show a universe of potential buildings or perhaps a city known and loved. The table beeped whenever anyone touched it in a kind of fitting memorial.

Russia Pavilion: A fountain from which fall from the roof not water, but coins. Passersby with plastic umbrellas stand under the stream of golden coins. A Midas story here.

Hungary Pavilion: In lucite cases, Zsolt Asztalos displays unexploded bombs dropped in Hungary as WWII drew to an end. Each case is attached to two headsets—sounds of a music box, or coffee and conversation in a café, or just traffic —sounds reminding you of people like yourself who are still alive because these bombs failed in their purpose. A disconcerting and powerful exhibit.

France: Three rooms with 3 takes on Ravel. In the central groom, two screens show two hands playing the Ravel piano concerto for the left hand. At first the hands seem to belong to the same artist, but as you watch and listen, you see that the hands are both left hands and they play at slightly different tempos. The recordings by 2 artists are different interpretations and the effect is mesmerizing.

Great Britain: The suicide of David Kelly, the scientist who leaked the UN report showing no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Hussein’s Iraq, anchors an exhibit of drawings by prisoners in British jails who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and then opposed the wars. Poignant.

Lenore's Favorites: Arsenale and New Arsenale

The signature of the 2013 Biennale is the first thing you see, the model of the Palace of the Mind. Around it are breathtaking photographs of women, some in profile, most from behind, because it is their hair that captures the eye - braided, twisted, wound in arresting shapes, captured by Nigerian photographer J. D. 'Okhai Ojeikere.

Arsenale’s long series of warehouses (once home to Venice’s formidable shipbuilding power) allows you to slow (or speed) your pace in each gallery. These arrested my journey:

Lebanon: An amazing installation 'Letter to a Refusing Pilot.' In grainy video, boys make and fly paper airplanes near a school in crowded area of Lebanon, the planes which transform in a few frames into Israeli fighter jets. We follow a boy, now a grown filmaker, as he explores the legend of an Israeli pilot who refused to bomb the school and instead dropped his bombs into the sea. The video is part of his discovery that the pilot was real, that this refusal happened, and as the viewer goes through this process too, we all see that moral actions must somehow speak across hostile political borders. Fabulous.

Papa Ibra Tall's colorful designs as well as his monochromatic line drawings.

A remarkable collection of collage models (circus wagon, carousel, bedroom) made from hospital supplies shows the endless imagination of a confined hospital patient working with materials at hand.

The collection 'Dames’ by Italian collage artist Enrico Baj shows women’s heads with disturbing qualities.

In another room, on what looks at first like a huge table, a model of a city rises from the water, and then after a few moments, sinks down into the water again, without a sound, except for the audience, murmuring and clicking.

Between Arsenale and Arsenale North (now called New Arsenale) is a body of water, with a shuttle boat and also, the Iceland entry: a recreation of a fishing boat, once very hour or so, casts off and is slowly rowed around the area, even in the rain, while a 5 piece wind orchestra, everyone dressed in black tie, plays slow and formal music.

Azerbaijan’s unofficial presentation, called ‘Love me, Love me not for the different cultures in its region, offers several: Afruz Amighi’s delicate lace panel creates a shifting shadow, flanked by parallel hanging chain designs to suggest ancient ottoman art. Lace and chain are both reflected in a rectangular pool. In another piece, hand brooms arranged in a circle— a haystack? A beehive? In a third, a magazine stand is fitted out with magazines from the developed world. But there are empty spaces where faces should be on the covers.

Lenore's Favorites: Collateral and Other Exhibits

Mexico Pavilion in The Church of San Lorenzo (closed for almost a century) features haunting, ethereal music made by strings powered by software. Worship of a different kind.

Church of San Giorgio Maggiore:‘Persepectives’ designed by John Pawson: the largest Swarovski crystal ever created refracts the central cupola of this wonderful 16th century Palladian church. The 40cm wide concave meniscus lens rests on top of a polished convex mirror, and visitors who look into the lens see a beautiful image, often including their own faces, of many parts of the church (a favorite of Monet).

Palazzo Falier: Out of the empty rooms of this amazing palazzo right on the Grand Canal, Pedro Cabrita Reis creates ‘rooms within rooms’ using aluminum beams and construction materials. The palazzo and the garden are the real delights, as it is the first time it has been open to the public during the Biennale.

Glasstress: Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere ed Arti, Palazzo Cavalli Franchett, one of the most beautiful historic buildings on the Grand Canal. To me, the exhibit of contemporary structures in glass is not as amazing as patterns of sunlight through the palazzo's glass windows.

China: 5 locations: Museo Diocesano: a juxtaposition of images of two Grand Canals – Venice and China’s historic grand canal in. At New Arsenale, China’s independent artists, who have had a voice and vision at Biennales for more than 50 years, return with a retrospective, often critical the government. To me, the most powerful are photographs of the ‘disappeared,’ courageous artist and thinkers and ordinary people whose stories appear in their own words. In Arsenale, powerful photographs of the enormity of China. In Giardini Ai Wei Wei makes a sculpture of three legged stools. Palazzo Pisani, Conservatorio Marcello: Simon Ma, Shanghai, 'Water Drop Sculptures.'

Fondazione Querini Stampalia—Luciana Benneton challenges artists from a dozen countries to confine their expression to 3 x 3 inch canvases. The Palazzo is a visual treat, the restoration in the Grand Piano spectacular.

Music week at Biennale features contemporary compositions. At Arsenale alle Tese—3 original compositions with the composers in the audience ('Dialoghi con la terra' for piano; 'La grammatica del soffio' for bass horn; and 'Nora' for cimbalom). Small audience and strange music (piano: the composer invites the sun to tea and a dialog ensues). I enjoyed stretching my legs on the long walk from the vaporetto, and and stretching my mind with the music. I thanked the soloists in the lobby, and the pianist, so nervous, was grateful.

In addition, I loved the Conservatorio program ‘Viva Verdi’ at Palazzo Pisani. Sequential groups of visitors were escorted through the music academy to hear students and teachers perform in different chambers. A beautiful evening!

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