2 June 2011

Biennale Bingo

It's time for Venice Biennale again. This week, during the launch, the city has been full of artists, hangers-on and parties for the select few. Next week the common folk are allowed to view the exhibition. It's an expensive and arduous business visiting the two principal sites, the Giardini park and the Arsenale shipyard. Hundreds of exhibitions and installations begin to blur into one another and if you haven't allowed enough energy, time and refuelling, it's easy to miss the few gems hidden among the contemporary art cliches.

To enliven the visit, I've come up with a Biennale Bingo game. See if you can tick off all the cliches below to get a 'full house' as you view the pavilions and art shows. I haven't looked around yet, but based on past experience I am optimistic (if that is the word) to be able to tick off several of the following:

1. A pile of rubbish.

2. A room or building dressed up to look like the home of an imaginary (preferably underprivileged) person.

3. An installation consisting of many identical items (e.g. chairs, mirrors) none of them made by the artist.

4. Video-installations/films which are loops of boring people talking, probably over a meal, amateurishly filmed.

5. Video-installations labelled with a duration of over an hour, which plainly no visitor has time to watch.

6. A large, random 3-dimensional structure, probably made of bamboo, with many meanings and yet, somehow, none.

7. A participation installation providing welcome excitement - walking into darkness, or dry ice, or water jets, a pipe you can look down, anything - which shows how desperate the visitors are getting for thrills.

8. A collection of gaudy advertisements, stuck to a wall.

9. 'Testimonies' either written or filmed, from unfortunates living in deprived conditions, preferably in the vicinity of dangerous pollution or natural disasters.

10. An exhibit where all the excitement took place in a big spectacle open to VIPs in the opening week, leaving nothing but broken memories & videos of the event for later paying visitors. For example, a big broken object which has been trashed by the artist, which later visitors are left to ponder.

11. Something you really didn't want to see (or have your children see): explicit pornography, perhaps, or dead animals.

and finally
12. A bar-restaurant where the staff don't want to serve you. (An exhibit which seems to feature each year at art and architecture biennales).

It won't be all cliches, though. This year there are apparently Tintoretto paintings in the main Italian pavilion.

> Read about the 2011 Biennale

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