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Archive for Self catering in Venice

The 53rd Venice Biennale is officially underway in Venice and signs of it are everywhere, bubbling up out of the canals, blaring from loudspeakers, flapping from the sides of palazzi. Probably the most thematically appropriate — given the shaken state of the art market and the art world as a whole — is the schoolchild’s maxim on a huge sign dangling from a sun-bleached facade near St. Mark’s Square: “I will not make any more boring art.”

When the Venice Biennale began back in the Victorian era, Britain ruled the waves and so ruled the Biennale. Thus the British pavilion is splendidly sited at the top of the large gardens that host the jamboree, while the American pavilion is out on the edges. China doesn’t get into the park at all. If you’re a Brit in Venice in June you can walk tall. This highlight of the art world calendar is a celebration every other year of the most cutting-edge art from all over the world, presented in grandly titled and grand-looking pavilions in the Giardini, acres of gardens a vaporetto ride from St Mark’s Square.

The nations who weren’t doing enough in Victorian times to have a permanent presence in the Giardini find alternative accommodation around Venice. It remains the most political of all art gatherings. In 1974 it was given over entirely to the art of Chile in protest at the Pinochet regime. There is always nostalgic talk of that and of the cultural protests of 1968, just as there is seldom, if ever, talk among our Italian hosts of the 1930s, when the running of the Venice Biennale was directed from the office of Sgnr Mussolini.

Like all good festivals, the Biennale has a fringe, the Aperto, housed in a series of waterside warehouses called the Arsenale. Hats off this year to a group of young London artists who have cheekily confused visitors to Venice by nicking the word “pavilion” to set up the Peckham Pavilion.

Self Catering in Venice

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