During our holiday to Venice this October my husband and I went to the two main sites of the Venice Biennale. On the second day we took a vaporetto from Rialto to the Giardini stop. It took a long time and was extremely crowded so I think walking there would have been more pleasant and just as quick. It was interesting to see the large park with its many and varied national pavilions where different countries put on displays of contemporary art. Many of the pavilions have been there for years while others are new, some were designed many years ago and are in traditional design while others are modern minimalist; it was fun trying to work out which country they belonged to before being close enough to read the signs.
I enjoyed the installations in the French pavilion with its reconstructions of film sets; the Nordic pavilion was different in that it had three trees growing through it, three artists having collaborated to highlight the plight of the Sami people. The Polish pavilion was lined with 12 huge textile installations representing the twelve months of the year and recording the history and culture of the Roma people; it was colourful and beautifully done. However, having waited for the Australian pavilion to open – late due to technical problems – I only lasted inside for about 30 seconds before the terrible noise and horrific images drove me out (my husband wasn’t far behind me!).
In the impressive central permanent pavilion large areas had displays by various artists and I did appreciate the paintings by the Portugese-British painter, Paula Rego, whose work had a whole gallery devoted to it. There was also a courtyard garden that was looking very colourful with autumn foliage.
I can’t pretend that I enjoyed all the art on display but the weather was warm and sunny and we wandered around, looking in some of the pavilions and sitting by the canal to eat our picnic lunch bought in a cafe on site. While we sat drinking our take-away glasses of spritz we were `entertained` by a security guard standing on a bridge who, instead of walking around moving people on, whistled to alert them to the fact they were not supposed to be sitting on the side of the canal; this was my favourite bit of art that day, a piece of uncurated, unrehearsed performance art!
We spent just over 4 hours in the Giardini and afterwards were lucky to get a table a Nevodi, a restaurant on nearby Via Giuseppi Garibaldi, where we had a very good meal.
I’m satisfied now I’ve had the opportunity to go to the Art Biennale but if I’m in Venice again while it’s on I will be content to visit some of the free to enter exhibitions that are dotted around different parts of the city.