55th Art Biennale di Venezia
The largest critical and exoteric analysis

review by Jizaino, 10 September 2013

55th International Art Exhibition
Il Palazzo Enciclopedico – The Encyclopedic Palace
01.06 - 24.11 2013
Venezia - Giardini, Arsenale and various venues

Entrance: 25 €



By a moral and cognitive point of view, this edition of the Biennale is characterised by a strong acceleration towards metaphysics. Already in the past edition there were anticipations of this tendency (see the review of the 54ª edition), thou what it was then barely hinted, this year it has been proposed bossily and with overconfidence.
We could consider it an epochal edition, even just for the debut of the Holy See Pavilion, to which I mentioned in this article, of which although now I can say that, oppositely to what I imagined, its presence has been circumscribed, predictable, without uproars and above all very flabby; and in my opinion not for chance: really nowadays the uproars fill mass media only when strong powers or untold lobbies are in conflict, not for reasons of genuine nor standard people confrontation.
Also the Vatican debut in this edition instead of the previous seems not casual: I really think that Cardinal Ravasi has waited until times became ripe with the enthronement of the Jesuit Jorge Bergoglio, also known as Pope Francis.

The cunning glance of Director Paolo Baratta and the quasi-jesuitic outfit of the Curator Massimiliano Gioni
Detail from an official photograph © Giorgio Zucchiatti

This Art Biennale of Venezia

After a period of default, I returned to visit the Biennale during the previous edition, attracted by the presence of strange thematics and artworks evoking an atmosphere of imminent proclamation, of revelation, that this year have been expressed more clearly; in fact I consider this edition a nowadays' epiphanic dawn of the metaphysical occultism, being connoted by the presence of a huge selection of artworks related or compatible to the masonic-satanic esotericism, with the presence of the symbolism, of the iconography and the myths beloved by the so called Illuminati.
The ones who know these arguments will catch what I am talking about, the ones who instead would visit this Biennale unknowingly, in consequence of the mind opennes necessary to the understanding of contemporary art, will take a massive dose of doctrinal messages bringing to ancient neglected cults that if proposed explicitly could be considered nefarious.

Therefrom we could come to the conclusion that having entitled this Biennale to "The Encyclopedic Palace" by Marino Auriti, it is an eulogy to scientific and Illuministic knowledge (of which the Jesuit confraternity, born right at the apex of Renaissance, is the singular supporter inside the Catholic Church). The will of Man that wants to heighten to the God level through the knowledge is paraphrased in the biblical metaphoric language with the satanic rebellion to natural rules, or divine if you wish (satan is from the hebraic sâtân, opponent). Technology and art would be part of this emancipation of Man from the divine grace or seize, but this vision of Art is generated by a mere dualist dichotomy.

As I said in the preface, by the commensuration of religion and its orthodox meddlings to the heterodox and uncontrollable world of contemporary art, I imagined that strong disputes, uproars and provocations would be released, as always happened: the Catholic Church has traditionally always been the antagonist of the scientific power advocated by the Illuminati starting from Galileo Galilei, but evidently the vatican citadel has been overmastered by the fierce maniple of the Company of Jesus.

Anyway, my estranged visit has been to me an incredible opportunity of cognitive maturation and unconcerned meditation on the piteous human longings, or if you wish satanic or divine.

The Central Pavilion and the Giardini

This review is born under that same intellectual disposition with which I have visited the exhibition, and yet trying not to disregard the individual artistic message, since the artworks can be contextually instrumentalised even when created by unaware artists or with other intentions.
Take it as an exercise of symbological interpretation that perhaps cross over the bounds of pure and simple art, but it is not my fault if this exhibition is so dense of occult meanings.

Facing cultist and esoterical thematics, we always pass through the world of magics and of unconscious: as soon as we enter the Central Pavilion, we are taken by the showing of the "Red Book" by the famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung; in the past I had an interest in psychoanalysis, and I have read some texts by Jung: surely the researcher represents a threshold towards certain gnostic dimensions.

Unfortunately, no photos of the Red Book: as usual a guardsman prohibited me to take innocuous photographs without flash, and in this case the deprivation of this right is not tied to the preservation of the artworks (which can be protected by an anti-UV glass when necessary), but just for the presupposition that if people do photograph the artworks then they do not buy the catalogues at the bookshop.
Apart from some particularly surveilled artworks, happily this year the room keepers have surrendered to the mass of photographers who pictured everything in spite of the forbade signs: a keeper girl confessed that rebuking the visitors you  cause more harm, since everyone, including myself, do that covertly.

Right after we are welcomed by a macabre mask from 1950 of André Breton, author of the first Surrealism manifesto, movement that is another threshold to the psychic-magical-oneiric-automatic world we will encounter all along this Biennale. Looking at the expression it seems indeed a death mask, although Breton was alive at that time. Also death will be one of the subjects permeating most of the exhibition.

René Iché
"Mask of Breton", ~ 1950

So we come across the representation of the untitled performance by Tino Sehgal, awarded this year with the Golden Lion, the highest prize, for "the excellence and innovation that his practice has brought opening the field of artistic disciplines": some actors (the poor victims who for six months, six hours a day, will work at this role) sitting on the floor mumble with the voice spontaneous rhythms and laments over which the other improvises a flabby dance: just like a tantric exercise to estrange from the self, a hypnotic mantra. Compliments to the jury for the prize of innovation: we have never seen a performance like this one, really... as if contemporary art, and most of all performance, would never had before the young Sehgal openings towards theatrical art, or as if Art would be stereotyped within those bounds that evidently do exist in the mind of the jurors.
You can find better videos that the one proposed here, since at the time when I payed attention to it, perhaps the actors were tired and the performance languished.

Tino Sehgal, untitled, 2013

In the same room there are some artworks by the recently departed Walter Pichler, that however do not give tribute to the primacy of this artist and architect to have imagined already in the '60 transhuman subjects that could be considered precursors of Cyberpunk.
All around there are many "Drawings on a Blackboard" by Rufolf Steiner, philosopher, architect and, obviously, esoterist and also a member of the Theosophical Society.

Sculptures by Walter Pichler

Rudolf Steiner
Series "Drawings on a Blackboard"
Chalk on paper

In the adjacent room we find the paintings with alchemical symbols by Hilma af Klint, another foregoer, this time of the abstractionism, and also her a mysticist, spiritist and close to Theosophy. In the middle of the room there is an installation by Roger Hiorns made with the sand obtained from the pulverisation of a marble altar from a church: a crying message. Then there are the drawings made by the researcher, artist and healer Emma Kunz, from Switzerland too, that are basically geometrical mandalas. Another spiritist artist is Augustine Lesage with his paintings guided by voices of spirits  which he was in contact with.

Hilma af Klint
"The Dove, No. 13", 1915
Oil on canvas

Roger Hiorns, untitled, 2013, pulverised marble

Augustine Lesage, "Composition symbolique sur le monde spirituel" (detail), 1923, oil on canvas

Near there is the video "Blindly" by Artur Żmijewski, who have often dealt with the impairment and sensory relativity themes: the video shows some blind people who try to paint and it is meant as a critique to the failure and inability of art in communicating.
A selection of ceramics by Ron Nagle, that are abstracting and reinterpret the shapes of common objects of everyday use, in this metaphysical context appear as a tangible pause serene and familiar, but the tantric paintings placed all around, in which shaped we can find the ones of the ceramics, get us back down to the mystic path.

Some ceramics by Ron Nagle

Tantric paintings of anonymous authors, paint on found paper
Selection of artworks, 1966-2004

The video "Short Study of the Nature of Things" by Laurent Montaronproposes a mechanistic and technological vision restarting from the Pichler's sculptures and is referred to the important text by Lucrezio "De Rerum Natura" that exhorts men to rationalise the slavery of the material world preferring a superior and unique spiritual conscience.

Laurent Montaron
"Short Study of the Nature of Things", 2013

The same argument can be extended to the paintings by KP Brehmer, who with the algidity of an anatomopathologist analyzes and records on graph paper all the hues of the sky.

KP Brehmer, "Himmelfarben" [Colours of the sky], 1969/76
Water-based dispersion paint and pencil on millimeter paper, 17 parts

In this room we find the architectonic drawings by the anonym Achilles G. Rizzoli, that can be superposed to the "Encyclopedic Palace" by Auriti and to the utopian monuments pictured in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, but ideally representing personages and people, the author's mother included, and some children of the neighborhood.
Over all there the pyramid on the painting "9-11-01" by Jack Whitten is impending, which is a sort of allegory connecting the attack on the twin towers in 2001 to an assault to ancient and mystical religious powers. The pyramid is raising in front of an anonym parade of little cardboard models of modest small town houses made by the anonym clerk Peter Fritz and salvaged by the Oliver Croy and Oliver Elser duo: this anteposition seems remarking the separation between people and power quite evidently.

Achilles G. Rizzoli
"Mother Tower of Jewels"

Jack Whitten, "9-11-01", 2006, mixed technique and acrylic on canvas, ~ 305 x 605 cm
Oliver Croy and Oliver Elser, "The 387 Houses of Peter Fritz (1916-1992) Insurance clerk from Vienna", 1993-2008, selection of 176 models

Always under building theme, we arrive to "La Grande Biblioteca" [The Great Library] by Gianfranco Baruchello, sumptuous assemblage that I think is evoking the grandeurs and the destruction of the mythical library of Alexandria in Egypt.
In the same room there is the projection of "Film No. 12 (Heaven and Earth Magic)" by Harry Smith, another occultist, other than the grim drawings of the artist and biologist José Antonio Suárez Londoño with a pseudoscientific look inspired to Kafka with some bodies that are analysed or dismembered, and the others by Christiana Solou dealing with the theme of the chimerical bestiality, of the genetical hybridisation, a subject today often proposed in the contemporary art and, sadly, already in the reality at a scientific level.

Harry Everett Smith
"Film No. 12 (Heaven and Earth Magic)", 1959-61
16mm film, 66'

José Antonio Suárez Londoño
"Franz Kafka, Diarios II, 1914-1923", 2000
Mixed techniques, 13 x 20 cm each

Drawing by Christiana Solou

From the beasts by Solou we go to the real and imaginary bestiary accurately carved by the son of a peasant, with as many chimerical hybridisations, then coming to the mystic beasts related to human mythology drawn by Friedrich Schröder Sonnenstern, who before to devote himself to art he lived as a detainee, as a psychiatric convict, as a cattleman, as a circus worker, as a woodcutter and over all as a chiromancer, naturopath and mystic healer.

Some pieces of the bestiary by
Levi Fisher Ames
Carved wood

Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern, coloured pencils on paper, ~ 98 x 68 cm
"Der Mondkritiker" [The Moon Critic], ~ 1955
"Meta-(physik) mit dem Hahn" [Meta-(physics) with the Cock], 1952
"Die Schlangenverführung" [Serpent's Seduction], 1955

Then we enter into a room all dedicated to the Italian Enrico David: personally I found in it a latent atmosphere of masonic androcentrism and misogyny. In the official Biennale interview the artist declares that his artworks are purely decorative and without symbologies or conceptualisms, but how can you disregard the self-evident decoration with masonic pyramids with golden cuspid, the phallic representations in the Escherian and lasciviously homosexual zipper interpenetration where genially the glandes are also the opposed testicles, or the volcanic ejaculation wicker, and over all the small statue of a black feminine figure really recalling the Mother Goddes (discussed by the archaeologist Marija Gimbutas in a book I've recently read) that is transpierced in the back, let us say impaled, by a blade (not visible in the photo below) and exiting through its mouth? Over all these artworks of design there is an impending and unsettling drawing representing a feminine head, that recalls the mentally disturbed Joker acted by Heath Ledger, which is too as cut by sharp pencil lines: it makes me think about the homicidal schizophrenic violence in some paintings by David Lynch.
Maybe, who knows, the artist spoke in good faith and unconsciously he is one of the many asymptomatic carriers of that subliminal indoctrination present everywhere which purpose is the antagonism and the dominance in the archaic dichotomic fight between males and females.

Tapestries, sculptures and a drawing by Enrico David

And surely this room is just the threshold inaugurating the misogyny theme and the feminine subjugation with which the curatorial project will go on: in fact going further we find the video "Corona" by Victor Alimpiev, seasoned with very fine myths like the Mermaid one, of which we do not even need explications, just watch it:

Victor Alimpiev, "Corona", 2012
Video, 7'28" in loop

Always under the feminine subjugation theme, in the next room a surreal and dismal atmosphere is perfectly in tune with the posthumous dolls by Morton Bartlett, simply representing sweet and winking pin-up girls here proposed with clothes, but that can also be undressed. Maybe they simply are dolls, but the doll-woman is an important aspect in the "sacerdotal" male-chauvinism and in the occultism: the doll, as the puppet, is equivalent to the woman as object, deprived of an autonomous thought and mentally controlled for the use and abuse of the hieratic-male controller; it may be taken as an erotic game, but the feminine mind control in real life touched goals as the lobotomy routinely practiced to correct exuberant personalities.

The dolls by Morton Bartlett, untitled
Plaster, fiber hair, paint, fabric

All around the room there are shown the 88 photocopies making the cryptic artwork "Passport", personal archive of the artist Carl Andre in which doubtlessly are included also many personages, places and monuments tied directly or indirectly to the freemasonries, as Sir Walter Raleigh, Lord Byron, the Statue of Liberty, Vladimir Lenin, just as Benito Mussolini. The title, motivated by the fact that the photocopies are collected between the ones of the very artist's passport, could even allude to the doors opened to the adepts of masonries.

Carl Andre, "Passport", 1970
88 colour Xeror copies

More booklets are in the next room, they are the artist's books of the series "Scrapbooks" by Shinro Ohtake: an entire room filled of this chaotic objects and full of all is superficially pop, thou even of citations and something more profound. The artwork should be related to the saturation of information, culture and subculture, this is to say different thoughts: indeed to observe carefully all these cabinets a whole day would be needed!

Shinro Ohtake, series "Scrapbooks" (#1-66), 1977-2012
Artist's books, mixed techniques

And another day would be needed to ponder on the one hundred eighty small statues modeled by the Peter Fischli and David Weiss duo: between flying axes, spiked maces and construction bricks (objects beloved by "brother masons"), we have several pleasantly portrayed sketches related to some famous personages: first of all Albert Hofmann, the discoverer of the lysergic acid diethylamide-25, or LSD, drug correlated to the MK-Ultra program of the C.I.A., a secret project of mind control, which was synthesised from the ergot or "horned rye", the hallucinogen used in the ancient cult of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Then there is Stanley Kubrik, the director of the film "Eyes Wide Shut", homage to the existence conduced by the adepts of occultist sects or satanic-masonic, divided between exterior and hidden life. There is even a sketch retracing the clamorous Battle of Morgarten in 1315, with which the Swiss people set out towards the independence from the Austrian dominion going to the super power of the Holy Roman Empire: in the mechanism that is what is happening today with the overruling of national states in favor of the super powerful and super bully New "European" Empire.

Peter Fischli and David Weiss, series "Plötzlich diese Übersicht" [Suddenly this Global view], 1981-...
Circa 180 sculptures, unfired clay

Near there we find several photos of the Dutch Viviane Sassen from the series "Lexicon" dedicated to the blacks of Africa, whom are portrayed in postures vaguely derisive and quite sinister, recalling in many aspects death, where there are also coffins and corpse bags. As we know the context where they are included, personally I could consider some of these photos as expression of the white supramatist racism.

Then we can admire some surreal paintings by Dorothea Tanning, the painter wife of Max Ernst; also in this case the curatorship has selected an artwork representing the myth of the Siren, or Mermaid, dated back to the archaic Assyro-Babylonian cults of the Oannes, and then a self-portrait  in an almost "bunny" outfit (yet the woman as object) whilst she observes a truncated mountain resembling the mysterious Devils Tower, connected by some people to the Babylonian myth of the Anunnaki, inasmuch similar to the broken Tower  in the Tarots, and thus finally to the Tower of Babel.

Dorothea Tanning, "Self-Portrait"
(detail), 1944
Oil on canvas

Dorothea Tanning, "The Truth About Comets", 1945
Oil on canvas

The successive room is the one that intrigued me less.
Seen my scarce interest for the genre, I have not deepened the meaning of the untitled installation of the Israeli Uri Aran, and his official interview have not diverted me from what I though at first glance: lack of a cause more than the intellectual tribulation.
I neither lingered more than much even on the gift drawings of the Shakers (an important pro-Christian confraternity of English Quakers settled in the United States of America) that would be inspired too by celestial beings and should give an idea of what the Paradise is, thou much affected and full of everything the well known corollary of biblical metaphors.
As much as I did not observed carefully the Asian drawings that in antithesis seem the stereotype of an infernal or spiritist world: monstrous beings, blotches like bugs and other things encaged into grids or scattered in chaotic compositions.
Neither the drawings that seem anatomies  of celestial creatures made by Guo Fengyi have raised my interest. Anyway, also here the occultism is prevailing.

Uri Aran, untitled
Installation (detail)

Graphical artworks from South-East Asia and Melanesia
Hugo A. Bernatzik collection

Much interesting indeed the paintings by Jean-Frédéric Schnyder, another Swiss artist (the presence of Swiss artists in this and the previous edition is at least impressive, considering the country size), whose imaginary reveals a healthy balance in describing a society unstably on the mystic-religious antagonism, despite it is filled with many symbols and subjects, yet again, tied to cults of masonry or of the Illuminati, as for example a mountain perfectly pyramidal with the sun in the cuspid, or the swastikas; he justify them saying the it does not matter to what we associate them whilst he barely use them just because they are nice to paint, in the strict sense of the act of painting... perhaps saying that he uses them for provocation would be more likely.
Then we find a metaphysical scene in a Delvaux style with alien cosmogony and a skeleton in the posture of Saint John the Baptist on a lodge with masonic checkerboard pavement, a languid devil with the typical Swiss hat, a self-portrait entitled "Stigma", a Baby Jesus which aureole is formed from the breath of the ox (or bull) while the clouds in the sky are shaped like other horned bovines.

The tapestry "Apocalypso", 1976/78, and some paintings by Jean-Frédéric Schnyder

Another imaginary bestiary is the one composed by the fine illustrations from the series "What is a monster?" by Domenico Gnoli, where the chimerical hybridisations are still protagonist, which are provocatively placed into interiors usually occupied by human beings.
It is interesting also the scientific research "The Path of Totality" brought on by Paloma Polo, but hardly resumable in this generic review.

Domenico Gnoli
"Snail on Sofa"
Artworks from 1967, India ink, tempera and acrylic on cardboard

Domenico Gnoli
"Woman Sole in Bath Tub"
"Winged Rhino at 15th Floor"

Successively we find the paintings of the Austrian kind oldie Maria Lassnig representing feminine subjects even in a suicidal attitudes: self-portraits with the gun pointed at the temples or with the head into a plastic bag or dancing with a skeleton: I would not take such proposals much lightly and I consider predominant the dangerous persuasive power of the picture with brisk and pictorial colours, thus I find strange that no protests have been raised considering that recently in Italy it is all an outcry speaking and denouncing the so called feminicide and the violence on women!
Then there are some doll maisonettes by Andra Ursuta, that are recalling me the voyeuristic obsession for the privacy in the television format "Big Brother", beside a sculpture recalling the ancient Egypt, and the voyeuristic photos by Kohei Yoshiyuki,  taken by night in some parks to real and unaware swingers and related voyeurs. But the apex of sex mania caused by sexophobic education is reached in the incredible bulk of erotic fantasies drawn by the young Evgenij Kozlov (E-E) denominated "The Leningrad Album".

Maria Lassnig
"Selbstportrait unter Plastik" [Self-portrait under Plastic], 2000
Oil on canvas

Maria Lassnig
"Du oder Ich" [You and I], 2005
Oil on canvas

Kohei Yoshiyuki, series "The Park", 1971-79

Andra Ursuta, "Conversion Table", 2012
Aluminum, trims, coins, concrete, wood

Andra Ursuta
"T. Vladimirescu Nr. 5, Sleeping Room", 2013

Evgenij Kozlov (E-E), "The Leningrad Album", 1967-73
Ink, ballpoint pen, pencil and crayon on paper

No interest is raised in my by the abstract untitled paintings by Varda Caivano, neither the ambiguous "Still Life" by Tacita Dean, while the Giotto-stle black angels sculpted by Diego Perrone, always in this context, simply recall to mind the expulsion of the rebellious angels, the ones who will become demons.

After all this mysticism, I find the series "Relationship" by the photographer Nikolay Bakharev an isle of human normality, and the series by Henrik Olesen an exposal of the coercive sexual moral.

One of the couple of sculptures by
Diego Perrone

A photo from the series by
Nikolay Bakharev

Details of the installation by
Augustine Lesage

The artwork by Eva Kotátková reading the title I is one of those playful installations built in order to encourage the visitors to interact and to be photographed inside the artwork, in this case putting the head into some cages, but the title was sufficient to consider it not deign of my consideration: "Asylum".
Then, after previous mentions to ancient Egypt, in a context of mysticism even the Arab world, rich of very ancient sapiential and alchemical literature, really could not be missed: very interesting the "Illuminist" miniatures of the Pakistani Imram Qureshi from the series "Moderate Enlightenment", that, as I interpret them, at least try to propose again the spiritual research as an alternative to the violence of war.
Instead, I can not find an interest in the Art Brut drawings with which Anna Zemánková alleviated her depression at night.
The two initials carved on the golden stelae by James Lee Byars would make one to suppose that these are gravestones of unknown personages, but the installation titles and caption raise the desire to know better the personage and his mystic phylosophy, as Zen as the two stelae.

Imran Qureshi
A miniature from "Moderate Enlightenment"

James Lee Byars
"The Figure of the Interrogative Philosophy"
"The Figure of the Question in the Room"
Gilded marbla

In the same room, in the low and mysterious light, we arrive to the apotheosis of occultism: nothing less than Aleister Crowley, great magus and pastor of hermetism as much as founder of a personal church of his own, of which here you can see his restyling of the tarots by hand of his friend the painter Frieda Harris.
Besides we find two as much low and mysterious videos by Melvin Moti that can be related to alchemy and cosmology.

Frieda Harris
"Atu XII - The Hanged Man", 1938-40
Watercolour on paper
Tarot as restyled by Aleister Crowley

Frieda Harris
"Atu XVIII - The Moon", 1938-40
Watercolour on paper
Tarot as restyled by Aleister Crowley

Melvin Moti, "Eigengrau", 2011
35 mm film (colour, silent), 26'

Toward the end of the Central Pavilion ride, the metaphysical thematics seem to decrease anyway, reverting to a more material reality, perhaps to close the vision on the world that is and want to stay confined in the occult.
At once i notice the very meticulous reproduction of the hair in the paintings by Ellen Altfest, reminding us the animal nature of human beings, while the sketch by Cathy Wilkes, resembling a poor crèche, seems to uncover the flaws and the fragility of man and its society.

Ellen Altfest
"The Butt" (detail), 2007
Oil on canvas

Ellen Altfest
"Armpit", 2011
Oil on canvas

The installation by Cathy Wilkes

The sculpture by Marisa Mertz, that should recall to mind "religious icons, images of mythical goddesses", for the very material appetite for the approaching lunch time it evoked to me the image of a fish cartouche cooked; pardon.
The paintings by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye can be related to the atmospheres in the photos by Viviane Sassen, against which I prefer anyway.

Marisa Mertz
"Testa" [Head], 1984-85
Unfired clay, wax, tin, lead, metal, iron base

Lynette Yiadom-Boakyes
"Messages from Elsewhere", 2013
Oil on canvas

The violence of Nature emerges from the tenebrous and inhospitable seas painted by the Belgian Thierry De Cordier, and also by the monolithic heaviness of the two steel blocks by Richard Serra dedicated to Pier Paolo Pasolini which seem then to conclude this ride with the cognition of the corporal death.

Two paintings with combers by Thierry De Cordier

Richard Serra, "Pasolini" (detail), 1985
One of the two forged steel blocks of the installation

And exited from the pavilion, "tornammo a riveder le stelle" [we came back to see the stars again], nay, the sun: let us continue to the:

National pavilions of the Giardini

Outside the central curatorial project of the Biennale by Massimiliano Gioni, the national participations' pavilions live their own thematic independence, thus we are exiting for a while from the occult world of "The Encyclopedic Palace" to come back to the "usual" contemporary art, the one dialoguing with all the society.

The Pavilion of Spain this year proposes a huge installation: it is "Construction Materials of the Spanish Pavilion" by Lara Almarcegui, where the debris equating the amount of materials used to build the same pavilion have been subdivided by typology, forming several heaps of concrete, wood, iron and glass. The work wants to make tangible the burden of the progressive change that cities endure continuously with all its negative implications inherent the environmental preservation; in this case the Artist is referring to Venice and in particular to the isle of Sacca San Mattia in Murano. Commendable engagement: today the ecological emergency can not be ignored and it is a good thing to promote parsimoniousness and farseeing.

Lara Almarcegui
Some views on the installation "Construction Materials of the Spanish Pavilion"

Lara Almarcegui
"Construction Materials" (Sacca San Mattia video)

Also Belgium proposes a large size installation, dedicated to Venice and the many paintings representing Saint Sebastian seen by the Artist around the town: "Kreupelhout - Cripplewood" by Berlinde De Bruyckere. The captions quote a nice lyrical text by John Maxwell Coetzee, of which I report some excerpts:

“Like all trees, the cripplewood tree aspires toward the sun; but something in its genes, some bad inheritance, some poison, twists its bones.”

“Knots are or two kinds, the rational kind, creations of human reason, that having been tied can be untied; and the kind that occur in nature, for which there is no loosening, no solution,no oplossing.”

Berlinde De Bruyckere, "Kreupelhout", 2012-2013
Wax, epoxy, iron, paint, wood, fabric, rope, gypsum, roofing

The artworks by Mark Manders for the Dutch Pavilion, apart the monumentality of some, all have that unexpressed character of personal empiricism in the scouting of surrounding reality, a bit inconclusive for my taste. Really nice instead is "Window with Fake Newspapers", for which have been realised fake newspaper pages utilising all the words from the English dictionary put randomly and using photographs taken in the artist's studio.

Mark Manders, "Window with Fake Newspapers", 2005-2013 and "Working Table", 2012-2013

Mark Manders, "Mind Study", 2010-2011 and "Short Sad Thoughts", 1990

Mark Manders, some heads studies and "Fox / Mouse / Belt", 1992

Mark Manders, "Room with Broken Sentence", 1992-2013
"Shadow Study (Femur and Upper Arm Bone Connected by One Single Shadow)", 2011

The Pavilion of Finland presents several projects by Antti Laitinen, among which "Forest Square" where he grinds and arrange a portion of a forest, a work which appearance is comparable to the one by Almarcegui, but related to Nature, thus conceptually antithetic in substance, and similar in the justifications to the one by Manders. Anyway Laitinen other than the manipulation of the environment, in the middle of it he places Man as a lone and bare individual who must face fundamental and primitive activities or attitudinal ordeals. This pavilion is one of the more correlatable to the arguments proposed in the Central Pavilion.

Antti Laitinen
"Tree reconstruction", 2013
Outside view of the pavilion

Antti Laitinen
"Forest Square III", 2013
C-print, Diasec, 180 x 180 cm

Antti Laitinen
"Untitled [Nails and Wood]" (detail), 2013
5 pieces of wood with nails, 20 x 20 x9 cm

Antti Laitinen
"Tree Reconstruction"
Support video
Antti Laitinen
"It's my island", 2013
Performance, video projection over three screen

Social engagement is protagonist again at the Pavilion of Hungary: "Fired but unexploded" by Zsolt Asztalos, proposes a measureless installation of videos representing the infinite unexploded bombs found from the several conflicts of the past, like if they were sad Objet Trouvé, to remind us how much the consequences of war are permanent even after many years; and this is nothing against the sanitary horrors due to recent wars in Middle East or in Africa, as also denounced in the previous edition at the Swiss Pavilion.
As seen in the video, in the flowerbed facing the pavilion there is a water spurt generating a small iridescent rainbow, as a sign of hope.

Zsolt Asztalos, view on the video installation

Some found bomb models

Where unexploded bombs have been found

Zsolt Asztalos, "Fired but unexploded" for the Hungarian Pavilion

The Brazilian Pavilionproposes an exhibition thematically singular entitled "dentro / fora" [inside / outside] dedicated to the paradoxical Möbius String, August Ferdinand, German mathematician and astronomer. The artworks of the two protagonist artists, Hélio Fervenza e Odires Mlászho, are very intriguing and conceptually stimulating, though all together the theme appears almost a pretext to barely give a curatorial fil rouge to a very heterogeneous exhibition.
The only reference to the encyclopaedic and scientific knowledge may be found in the very critic spirit of the manipulated books by Odires Mlászho, that seem to devalue the serial abstruseness of referential and auto-referential piles, the law's ones in particular, as in the artworks series "Master Butchers and Their Apprentices".

Max Bill, "Unidade Tripartita" [Tripartite Unity], 1948-1949 and strings installation

Hélio Fervenza
"(peixe, sombra) dentrofora (do céu da boca) d'água (   ,   )" [(fish, shadow) insideoutside (the roof of mouth) of water (   ,   )], 2013

Odires Mlászho, "Martindale-Hubbell / Inrernational Law Directory", 2013
Series "Livros moles" [Soft books], altered books

Odires Mlászho, "Skinner IX" e "Skinner X", 2013
Series "Master Butchers and their Apprentices"
Digital collages, pigment print on paper

Bruno Munari, "Concavo / Convesso", 1947
Galvanised iron mesh

The Venice Pavilion has a very commercial character, appearing as a propagandistic project for silk manufacture, in which Venice had surely a historic role starting from the patrician venetian Marco Polo in his connections with China through the Silk Road, up to the textile industry of Fortuny.
All perfectly relevant to its very theme, Silk Road, starting from the large installation "Contiene lo spazio (grande orditoio)" [It contains the space (large warper)] by Mimmo Roselli prepared on the outside of the pavilion, up to the video "Iranian Beauty" by Anahita Razmi assimilable to one of those advertising almanacs with pin-ups hanged in the car repair shops or with which the truck driver stereotype adorns his own cockpit.
Venice returns back to the countries of oriental emerging markets.

Venetian fabrics by Bevilacqua, Fortuny and Rubelli

Marya Kazoun, "Of Selves, Pixies and Goons", 2013
Installation, wood and threads

Anahita Razmi, "Iranian Beauty"
Looping video, 3000 Iranian bankonotes on Iranian Fortuny Fabric

Marialuisa Tadei
"Il Castello di Sole"
Installation, mosaics and audio

Luckily at the end of this manufacture tunnel we find some artworks where you can go astray for long and which connection to this pavilion seems to be just for the abuse of many trademarks and an allegorical fight between China and Occident, but also some references to oligarchic elitism assimilable to the Biennale's main theme: that are two large photographs and a sculpture by the Russian group AES+F.

AES+F, "The Feast of Trimalchio, Arrival of the Golden Boat"

AES+F, "Allegoria Sacra, Panorama #2" [Sacred Allegory]

AES+F, "Last Riot Sculptures, Composition #4 (Two Boys)"

The esoteric atmosphere of the Encyclopedic Palace finds a perfect continuation in the Egyptian Pavilion where in the dark there are some mysterious sculptures by Khaled Zaki, other than some sincerer mosaics by Mohamed Banawy.
One of the Zaki's sculptures is a foot of a huge Egyptian statue with slots to see the interior where there is the ancient, in the form of an undecipherable sculpture presence, apposed to the modern, represented by the binary numbering system, all closed with a padlock: really enigmatic, but also disquieting.

Some sculptures by Khaled Zaki e dettaglio

Some details of the mosaics by Mohamed Banawy

Going beyond the captivating appearance, I find the Pavilion of the Serbian Republic perhaps one of the less thrilling: a little romantic gallery of vintage objects with which have been prepared commonplace installations based on the seriality and on many lively funny little faces. Also the videos are views on a folk everyday life devoted to the indolent nonsense and to the miserable survival, but one, really interesting indeed: "Children Listening Music" by Miloš Tomić.

Vladimir Perić, "3D Wallpaper for Bathroom", 2009
Installation, found razor blades

Vladimir Perić
"There Is Nothing Betwwn Us", 2013, installation (detail)

Vladimir Perić
"Photo Safari", 2013
manipulated found objects

Vladimir Perić, "3D Wallpaper for Children's Room", 2007
Installation, found objects

Miloš Tomić, "Annual Musical Report", 2013
Video, 5'
Miloš Tomić, "Children Listening Music", 2013
Video, 6'

The Austrian Pavilion presents the animated cartoon on 35mm film "Imitation of Life" made by hand in the traditional Disney style. I do not even adventure in to enclose pictures of the funny short, as the publishing of a short excerpt taken at the Biennale caused the deletion of our Vimeo channel for copyright infringement.
And it is not for vengeance that I do not consider this work an artwork, although there is an enormous artistic labour behind, but because I think that an artwork can be considered so when it is realised by a single artist, or at farthest by a small group with a common motivation, deeply felt by everyone. For the same reason I do not love those artists who delegate to others the realisation of their "own" artworks.
In this case Mathias Poledna is the mastermind of the project and one of the tens of people who have worked in the making, or the team of workhands, this is the non plus ultra of Artist negation. Anyway, Poledna in this exhibition that includes several sketches used in the film making, poses right this question: up to which point an artist is father of an artwork made by more people?

"Imitation of Life"
List of people who worked on it

Mathias Poledna
Some animation tables for "Imitation of Life"

At the Polish Pavilion the acoustic installation "Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More" by Konrad Smoleński was off because the vibrations and clash it made impelled the Environment Councillor to denounce the public quiet violation to the Attorney.
What could be said: a prophetical title!
From the stubborn Polish people I expected something more involved and tenacious; anyway, I have listened the installation in the internet and I can say that  I was lucky to have visited the Giardini without this annoying presence! Dear punk rockers... making clash you can drag the attention, but not the consent.
Personally I interpret this installation as a hope for a Church's crumbling.

Konrad Smoleński, "Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More"
Audio installation, bells, microphones, loudspeakers

The Pavilion of Romania proposes the performace "An immaterial retrospective of the Venice Biennale" where (as in the Sehgal's performance, for six months, six hours a day) some actors retrace past editions of the Biennale only with the aid of postures, gesticulations and words.
Apropos of past biennials remembrances, I would like to say: "oooh, this is so contemporary, contemporary, contemporary".

Alexandra Pirici - Manuel Pelmuş
"An immaterial retrospective of the Venice Biennale"

At the Greek Pavilion there is the film projection in 3 episodes of 11 minutes each entitled "History Zero" by Stefanos Tsivopoulos. I find the artwork interesting, although ambiguous: an indigent lives searching in the trash some metal rubbish to sell, whilst an old lady who lives in luxury creates origami flower bouquets using banknotes of €200 and €500 to change the bouquet from the previous day, which is then trashed into the bin. The poor guy then finds into the trash the bag with the banknote flowers, he lefts his metal and goes away furtively.
A little story that can be seen as an exhortation to the riches to help the poor ones, but also as an inexorable affirmation telling that nobody can live without the money-god. The second hypothesis is supported by the inscriptions in the pavilion hallway which are listing several alternatives to money emerged along history: alternatives that wish then to confirm the inevitability of these symbolical objects of exchange. But the hidden concept everybody face is right the value exchange: why that poor guy searches for metal to sell? For the money, obviously. But the money what is good for him? To eat, obviously. And then, wouldn't be easier to catch the food, of which Nature is full? The exchange of values that has subjugated mankind is between the ability to provide to one's own needs and those pieces of paper with which you can impose your needs to others.
Greece, Greece... desperately in the hands of Troika.

Stefanos Tsivopoulos, "History Zero"
Detail of the informative papers of alternative currencies and excerpts from the film in 3 episodes

In the Israeli Pavilion there is the representation of an mysterious installation with multichannel videos and sculptures immersed into an obscure atmosphere getting us back to the esoteric world of "The Encyclopedic Palace".
The artwork recounts about an hypothetical subterranean travel (as from Hebraic mythology) undertook by an Israeli group to arrive in Venice, where they finally model with clay statues of their own heads.
Several references to realities and myths that come to mind, like the subterranean influence of Israel on the international sociopolitical scenario, the Golem (the clay statue that becomes alive on the order of its own creator) which is traditionally mute, hence in this case it is equipped of a microphone with which at last it would speak.
The thing turning all so disquieting is the final of the story, when the travelers completely dirty and dusty exit as creatures of hades through a hole in the soil coming to light of the outside world, affirming the epiphanic theme.

Gilad Ratman, "The Workshop"
Some view on the installation

Gilad Ratman, "The Workshop"
Some moments from the videos

At the Pavilion of Finland we find a complex exhibition of projects by Terike Haapoja inherent the ethical limits that Man could or should have in altering the world and the environment to bend it under his own needs. Several artworks arranged like a botanical garden present sceneries of interference between nature and technology, thermographies of animals just deceased and measurements of CO2, the much mystified and vituperated carbon dioxide, that is what it once was called simply carbonic anhydride, or that gas emitted by anything is living or brething, a symptom of life.

Terika Haapoja, views of "Closed Circuit - Open Duration"

Terika Haapoja, global view of the Finnish Pavilion

No need to exit outside to enter the Danish Pavilion where it is projected the videoinstallation "Intercourses" by Jesper Just in which, returning to the elitist implications of this Biennale, I catch atmospheres evoking the Rohmerian and Godardian Nouvelle Vague, but with paneuropeist taste.

Jesper Just, some moments from "Intercourses"

And coming back to earth, or well with the head in the clouds, we are again between the usual contemporary art of minimalist post-industrial manipulation that I personally find a bit trite and inconclusive: the Pavilion of Uruguay gives homage to the sculptor Wifredo Díaz Valdéz.

Wifredo Díaz Valdéz, sculptures, manipulated found objects

Also the Australian Pavilion is about on the same wavelength, presenting the sidereal and taciturn pseudorealism  of the sculptural artworks by Simryn Gill, who in the photographs from the series "Eyes and Storms" casts anyway an inquisitorial light on the open quarries that injuring the Earth.

Simryn Gill
"Lets Go, Lets Go", 2013
Collage and ink on 12 paper panels and wood

Simryn Gill
"Naughts" (detail), 2010
Objects in form of zeros found walking, variable dimensions

Simryn Gill
"Eyes and Storms", 2012, 2013
7 Ilfachrome prints from a series of 23, 125 x 125 cm

This is the last edition when you could visit the characteristic Australian Pavilion looking like bathhouses, since it will be demolished and rebuilt differently.

I find the same attitude for the astonished contemplation of things at the Czechoslovakian Pavilion in the declaration of powerlessness expressed by the accumulative coleccionism or archival addiction of Petra Feriancová, which comes fortunately combined to the loquacious video "Liberation - or, alternatively: - Promethean Conquest - The Doctrine of Sediments - What of matter? - What direction is matter taking? - Anarchive - The Song of the Hoe - Communism of the senses" by Zbyněk Baladrán, which gives a global meaning to this pavilion.

Petra Feriancová, some views of the installation "An Order of Things II", 2013

So we arrive to the German Pavilion hosting the artistar Ai Weiwei, Romuald Karmakar, Santu Mofokeng and Dayanita Singh.
Weiwei presents an enormous installation entitled "Bang" built with 886 old wooden stools that are filling all the cubature of the room. The artwork has a characteristic style of other artworks of him based on multitude. The handmade stool, common homely furniture in the traditional China that here is seen as a metaphor of the individual, today has been replaced by plastic objects produced industrially: a denounce of the hypertrophic postmodern development of consumerism.
Karmakar is present with some of his videos investigating the mechanisms with which violence and other mass phenomenons generate.
The photographic reportage by Mofokeng represents the places where the South African natives gathered during apartheid to practice ancestral rites, combined to the relics belonging to the introspective background of individual memory.
Also the photographer Singh presents some artworks related to memory and the past, themes characterising this pavilion.

Ai Weiwei
"Bang", 2010-2013
886 ancient stools
Santu Mofokeng
Details of the photographic installation
Pigment prints (colour) and silver gelatin (black and white) 1996-2012

Romuald Karmakar, some excerpts from the videos "Panzernashorn", 2013,  "Hamburger Lektionen", 2006 and "Anticipation", 2013
Dayanita Singh, "Mona and Myself", 2013

The English Pavilion is dedicated to Jeremy Deller, who has arranged an eclectic and captivating multitude of artworks revealing an interest for social issues of his country, but applicable globally, although leading to the face-off instead of the communication.
This is a pavilion where you can enjoy some good Art nice to see, intellectually stimulating and furnished of a clear and explicative pamphlet, other than to sip the tea freely offered to all the visitors.

Jeremy Deller, "The Sandringham Estate, Norfolk, UK"

Jeremy Deller
"Bevan tried to change the nation"
Photographs taken in 1972 during
the British tour of David Bowie and
the social unrests in Londonderry for the economic crisis

Jeremy Deller
"I want to be invisible"
Banner for an hypothetical manifestation in 2017
based on a diagram related to the financial
tool called "Jersey Cash Box"

Jeremy Deller
"We sit starving amidst our gold"
William Morris in form of colossus throws into the Venetian laguna
the yacht Luna of the magnate Roman Abramovich

Whatever else could the English
Pavilion offer to visitors
if not a good tea?

The Canadian Pavilion is wholly for the very personal art by Shary Boyle who dedicates her exhibition to the ones who have no voice, in any senses, to which is addressed the introductory lyrical text, of which I quote an excerpt:

"For the activists
For all the artists who are not invited to show, whose work is not welcome here"

In the pavilion you can feel a magical and poetic atmosphere, immersed in the dark where an installation with light projection and some sculptures appear like suspended in time.

Shary Boyle
"Onus Opus" [Duty Work] e "Bridge and Chorus", 2012
Porcelain on vintage record players and etchings

Shary Boyle
"The Cave Painter", 2013
Installation with sculptures and light projection

Then we arrive to France, that is presenting a music project by Anri Sala: three videoprojections in rooms almost anechoic where the "Concerto for the Left Hand in D major" by Maurice Ravel is interpreted by two different musicians, who are at the same time mixed by a DJ in order to find an overlap of the two interpretations compensating the differences. The result is an extreme reinvention of the piece. In my opinion the installation would have been more effective if just it was used only the audio part: the video is superfluous and have a bare explanatory purpose.

Anri Sala, excerpts from:
"Ravel Ravel", 2013, HD video projection on 2 screens, 20'45"
"Unravel", 2013 video projection on 2 screens in 2 separate spaces, 6'45" e 20'45"

I was very curious to know how would have been this year the Pavilion of Japan, after the extreme disasters of 2011, caused firstly by the tsunami and then by the nuclear plant of Fukushima which as today is compromising the environment even on a planetary level. The previous Biennale opened just three months after the disasters, hence it did not reflected the issues.
As expectable, all the work of Koki Tanaka is strongly marked by the consequences that Japanese society has endured on those events. In the artist's mind, the message that his country could say to the world and the attitude that his fellow people should revalorise, is collaboration, the collective acting, the inclination to dialog and the sharing of experience, other than a higher attention for a parsimonious lifestyle, thus to the rediscovery of simplicity. It would be nice if it were not necessary a catastrophic event to wake the humaneness in people.
Surely these Tanaka's projects are very interesting, commendable from a generic social point of view, but I hope that these collective actions would not become ways to survive in helplessness, giving mutual relief just to carry on mindlessly, without anger. Japan, as other countries, is already known for certain recreations of collective idiocy, like the Algorithmic March, and other Weapons of Mass Distraction.
I would have preferred an exhibition talking of the obscure ins and outs of those events.
Excellent the large pamphlet dispensed to visitors, with all the artworks deeply explained by the artist's words.

Koki Tanaka
"a poem written by 5 poets at once (first attempt)", 2013
HD video, 68'30"

Koki Tanaka
"painting to the public (open-air)", 2012
Collective action / billboard

Koki Tanaka
"a pottery produced by 5 potters at once", 2013
HD video, 75' and ceramics

Koki Tanaka
excerpts from "a haircut by 9 hairdressers at once", 2010
and "a pottery produced by 5 potters at once"
HD video

At the Russian Pavilion there is the play of the installation by Vadim Zakharov entitled "Danaë", the mythological protagonist who had a troubled life and a son, Perseus, from Zeus, who fecundated her assuming the form of a golden rainfall.
The artwork is much complex: at the ground floor there is a room where can enter only women, who are supplied an umbrella to shelter from the fall of coins coming from above. At the intermediate floor there is a balcony, made with church kneelers, from where you can see the women at the floor below. At the upper floor there is a man astraddle on a saddle placed over an architrave of the room and who is eating peanuts making a heap of shells on the soil. In the structure there is a machine providing the coins' rainfall and a recovery system of the dropped coins to refill the tank. Beside the installation, with which the visitors can interact, there are some black and white photographs of a coins in a strip and a strange wooden cabinet where in the inside there is a white rose, evidently a symbol of pureness.
Over all it is emerging a writing rebuking males for their many vices, thus seeming to favor the female, although some attending ladies felt scorched by this artwork.
Indeed, the Zeus' golden rainfall here become vile money, not much a magical fertilisation, and also the white rose seems to exhort women to pureness; thus the rebuke to men in this case seems more an exhortation to a male who fell overwhelmed and subjugated by feminine beauty, till to cover her with gold.
Ambiguity of the artists, thou exemplary in stating the ambiguity of the real world.

Vadim Zakharov, some views of the installation "Danaë", 2013

The Pavilion of Venezuelawas definitely closed; someone informed me that they opened only during the inauguration. On the outside there where several graffiti.

The Venezuelan Pavilion was closed. Some graffiti on the outside

At the Pavilion of Switzerland, nation extraordinarily omnipresent in this and the previous Biennale, the protagonist is Valentin Carron, Artist who already in the past essayed the religion theme, the Catholicism in particular: this seems to put us back on the argument exuding from all this Biennale. There are exhibited some bronzes representing some flattened wind-instruments, a Piaggio Ciao moped as Objet Trouvé, some sculpture-painting inspired to the religious architectures of the 50s and a bronze serpent with the head at both ends traveling through all the pavilion and welcome the visitors at the two entrances: without doubts it resembles a cobra, the typical reptile adored by ancient Egyptians. The serpent so vituperated by the Catholic Church.

The Swiss Pavilion for Valentin Carron

Let us arrive to the Pavilion of Korea, dedicated to the Artist Kimsooja pavilions where you must enter few at a time and with . I have a especial antipathy for thoseparticular requests for the visitors, thus I gave just a peek at the entrance to see an installation that "breaths" always in the name of colour, but much distant from the enthusiasm I had for the past edition.

Kimsooja, "To Breathe: Bottari", 2013

Same fate for the Pavilion of the United States, that I visited lastly since there where always an endless queue, so I postponed my visit almost at the closing time. It is another installation like intricate crowd recalling a parascientific or alchemic laboratory, assembled extemporising in three months by Sarah Zse. I do not know if this is a celebration of scientific research, but it seems more the representation of an illogical and meaningless chaos.
To delay the entrance in small groups is good just to create the queue and to induce who is seeing it to think: "look how many people, it must really be a must see pavilion", but there is no reason to justify the delayed entrance.
Also in this case I prefer that of the past edition.

The Yankee Pavilion for Sarah Sze

Next stop: the Arsenale.

The Arsenale

The Encyclopedic Palace by Marino Auriti

Entering the Arsenale we face the model to 1:200 scale of the Encyclopedic Palace by Marino Auriti, reassembled for the occasion, which gives the title to this Biennale. Few remarks: apart that to me it seems a version on steroids of the Panopticon, the perfect penitentiary ideated by Jeremy Bentham, evidently it is inspired to the classic representation of the Tower of Babel, an often recurring figure in the context of certain powers, as for example the European Parliament palace in Bruxelles, and also around the Venice of the biennial, like in Atlantis, the personal exhibition of Maxim Kantor.
We are going to dive again into the world of the occultism encountered at the Central Pavilion in the Giardini.

The fact of having placed the Auriti's model at the Arsenale's entrance makes me think that the exhibition itinerary starts from this venue, whilst I have visited first the Giardini; in fact here we will find artworks introducing with more discretion the esotericism theme, which is much more explicit at the Central Pavilion.

Oddly, all around the model we find the photographs realised by J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, who for years has portrayed the hairdos of Nigerian women. We could find a nexus with the Encyclopedic Palace in the fact that these hairdressings really are true architectures.

"Suku Sesema", 1977  and "Onile Gogoro Or Akaba", 1975/2010 di J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere
Silver gelatin prints

In the next room the real itinerary seems to begin: we commence with Nature, starting from the biological diversity of the extravagant expression of the Chinese Lin Xue, who draws with a stick sopped in the ink little fantastic ecosystems populated by weird creatures; passing by the deception of the amazing glass flowers photographed by Christopher Williams, which was realised by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka for a botanical museum, but reinterpreted by the photographer combined to countries where in 1985 some people disappeared for political reasons: when you say diversity; ending to Nature reformulated in the proteinic chains of the sculpture by Roberto Cuoghi, a personage with a bizarre life who would not be in other places more appropriate than this, since he is interested in the language and cults of the Assyrians (the ancient people eternally tied to the Babylonians) for which he created a large reproduction of a statuette of the Pazuzu demon, characterise by a posture identical to the one of Baphomet, the idol venerated in the occultism: the talk is reopened.

Lin Xue, series of 12 untitled artworks, and a detail, 2012
Ink on paper

Christopher Williams
"Angola to Vietnam", 1989
27 silver gelatin prints

Roberto Cuoghi
"Belinda", 2013

The nature continues to be protagonist also in the next room. The aerial photographs by Eduard Spelterini portray landscapes seen from his hot-air balloon. Spelterini was the pioneer of aerial photography, but toward the end of his life he fell from the celebrity of success to the oblivion and  indigence, since both the photography and the aviation became a mass phenomenon: eternal teaching for the ones who found their own research only on technology.
Another naturalist and expert photographic technician is Eliot Porter, of whose have been shown some of his very meticulous flying birds images.
The video "Kempinski" by Neïl Beloufa, as he is used to, proposes an altered nature: apparently the pictures may betray, making the artwork to seem a simple documentary, but the words of the interviewee describe futuristic scenarios of evolution toward a transhumanist technology.
Nature again in the trees precisely drawn by the singular artist Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, whose artistic expression, starred by metaphysical concepts too more than it may seem, is characterised by a peculiar naturalist philosophy, which is also very similar to the one of Antti Laitinen.
The paintings of Daniel Hesidence are instead visions of nature, from the words of the artist himself, based on “a n order symbolic and loaded of emotionality”, or metaphysical reinterpretations of the nature through the unconscious, and they can contain diverse cosmic dimensions, from the sea to the atoms or the galaxies.
Started from Nature we begin to encounter again the world of occultism: there are 35 of the more than 700 "Artures" by Yürksel Arslan, an artist sympathising the Surrealism and interested in mystic and cryptoscientific disciplines, who using also biological matter (bones, blood and urine) paints arcane alterations pseudo surgical, anatomical, encephalograms and hypotheses of electronic psychiatric parapsychology, intermixed to tables with sexual deviances, hermaphroditism, sociology and politics.
In the video "Grosse Fatigue" with similar rationality/irrationality Camille Henrot completes a work of cultural analysis comparing the experience of many human ethnicities in an attempt to create a sort of global vision on the human thought; something like an anthropological Encyclopedic Palace.
An attention for the study of Cosmos, thou much more humble and naturalistic, is in the drawings by Ştefan Bertalan, who observed and documented meticulously the life of a sunflower, finding in it a cosmological synthesis of all the life in the universe.
At last, confirming the constant presence of thematics inherent to esotericism, in the middle of the room we find the statues by Hans Josephsohn, inspired to the Hebraic myth of the Golem, thus to the caducity and deciduousness of life from a demiurgic point of view.

Eduard Spelterini
Some aerial photographs, 1903-1911
Inkjet prints

Eliot Porter
Dry transfer colour prints

Patrick Van Caeckenbergh
Some artworks from the series "Drawings of Old Trees", 2010-2013
Pentel 120 3DX - 0,5mm A315

Neïl Beloufa
"Kempiski", 2007
Video, 14'

Daniel Hesidence
Untitled (Maritime Spring), 2012
Oil on canvas

Yürksel Arslan, some of the "Artures", 1955-2002
Pigments, earth, pencil and ink on paper

Camille Henrot
"Grosse Fatigue", 2013
Videoinstallation (colour, sound)

Ştefan Bertalan
"Sunflower", 1980
Chalk, felt-tip pen, ballpoint pen and pencil on paper

Hans Josephsohn
Untitled sculptures, brass

In the small adjacent room we find another sort of encyclopaedic compendium: that are the films by João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Aiva, who with the iciness of an entomologist quietly describe a world of actions and gestures seeming to look any value and function, just as they were ill-advised automatic reactions, the one withthe three albinos speaking around the fire in particular.

João Maria Gusmão e Pedro Aiva
Selection of 16mm films (colour, silent), 2006-13

The next room seems to be dedicated to the contemplation of the past.

The sculptures by Phyllida Barlow seem heavy rocks, but they are made of recycled materials very lightweight, such as polystyrene and metal mesh. They are distracting us momentarily from the heavy presence of the occultism and, at least, the artist must be praised for being, I think, the only sculptress who recycles also her own artworks,breaking them to create new ones!
Instead the bronzes by Matthew Monahan seem to be, but they are not, frail and instable memories of the culture of the past, as diaphanous presences in the way of disruption.

Also Kan Xuan shows us the past, the lost one of China, identifying it with the imperial tombs represented in his massive 171 channels videoinstallation; just as Danh Vo does with some relics pf Vietnamese and Italian churches. Both seem to establish and celebrate the agony or the death of the ancient temporal powers of the old order of monarchs and papacies, replaced by the economical powers of the new order of individuals and multinationals; which still power is: it simply recycle itself.

Very interesting the video "Once Upon a Time" by Steve McQueen who combines 116 images from the Golden Record by Carl Sagan, the disc that the Voyager took into the space to explain our civilisation to feasible alien entities, with a series of sounds and indecipherable glossolalias. It seems that in countertrend this artwork criticises the presumption of Enlightenment and scientific knowledge, but looking better  it criticises the content of the Golden Record, which presents a nature too much natural or normal (the man, the woman, animal biologym bucolic landscapes, etc.) and too few satanic.

The past is protagonist again in the video by Ed Atkins realised starting from an archive film of the objects collection of André Breton, who is portrayed in the mask at the entrance of the Central Pavilion.

Phyllida Barlow
Some sculptures from 2012
Polystyrene, metal mesh, polyurethane expanding foam, paint and other materials

Matthew Monahan
Some sculptures from 2013
Patinated bronze and steel

Kan Xuan
"Millet Mounds", 2012
171 channels videoinstallation

Danh Vo, "Hoang Ly church, Thai Binh Province, Vietnam", 2013,  wood, steel and stone
Untitled (Christmas, Rome, 2012), 2013, velvet

Steve McQueen
"Once Upon a Time", 2002
Sequence of 116 colour images, 70'
Ed Atkins
"The Trick Brain", 2012
Video, 5.1 surround sound, 16'

The scabrous and cynical atmospheres of Arslan are amplified to psychedelic levels in the paintings of the young Jakub Julian Ziółkowski: obsessing visions of a metastatic cosmology that is pernicious, carnal and voyeuristic.

Some paintings by Jakub Julian Ziółkowski and two details
Oil on canvas or board

A nice discover is the one of the little known figure of the researcher and philosopher artist Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, who dedicated himself to scan macro and micro transcendental cosmos to find back the human creative genius, stating: “He would be one in a million who could force the brain to give up the many secrets that it had inherited from thousands of years.”
In front of his paintings, almost as an antithesis, there are some sculptures by Jessica Jackson Hutchins, cumbersome homely presences, disrupting symbolical relatives.

Eugene Von Bruenchenhein
An oil painting on Masonite
Some portraits of the artist's wife, ~1943-60
Prints from slides

Jessica Jackson Hutchins
"Carpaccio", 2013
Paint, fabric, collage and glazed ceramics on leather sofa
"Lascaux", 2012, lounge chair, glazed ceramic

Proceeding further we find the interesting sculptures of the young Shinichi Sawada, a Japanese artist affected by a severe form of autism. In topic of diversity, it is nice to see how the skill of a "diverse" person could enchant with his artworks that are disquieting and amusing at the same time, proving the irreducible spiritual power of the person, but it is sad to think that probably Sawada would have done the same art even without the consequences on his social life he endures for this syndrome of anthropogenic and iatrogenic causes.

Shinichi Sawada
Glazed clay sculptures

Then we arrive to the huge exhibition of the entire series of comics tables by Robert Crumb illustrating the 50 chapters of the Book of Genesis from the Hebrew Bible. A graphical and materialistic work that, following stricly the sacred writings without metaphorical interpretations, tastes of cosmogonic mysticism and demiurgical  dominion. It has raised critiques for a subtle satirical sarcasm, which is ambiguous anyway, and it reached the first place on the New York Times as best seller comic. It is a work of exceptional proportions that required four years of work, which reading on site would have took too much time.

Robert Crumb
"The Book of Genesis ILLUSTRATED", 2009

Rossella Biscotti, presented his oneiric laboratory conducted together with the detainees of the Giudecca's women's prison: a sculptural installation moulded with the compost collected by the convicts and the audio of the narrations of their dreams (but as for the other artworks not readily available or imposing particular demands to the visitors, I would not even dream to wait the only two plays in ordained daily hours, 11am and 4pm, as the rules imposed to convicts). Perhaps my impression could be influenced by the permeating omnipresence of esoteric arguments, but the artwork and also the title "I dreamt that you changed into a cat...gatto...ha ha ha" tastes much of witchcraft, recalling the traditional superstition telling that witches can transform themselves into black cats, wherefrom the convict females, todays' victims of the system, would be like the sorceresses at the times of the Holy Inquisition, other than the transformation of the compost into a work of art like the alchemical one where lead becomes gold.

Other garbages are utilised by Arthur Bispo do Rosário, a Brazilian who along half a century of staying at an psychiatric hospital (for his declaration that he was appointed from Christ to present to God what of this world he would have considered worthy at the end of times) has realised an enormous amount of sculptures and tapestries using recycled materials, some miniature ships included, being once a Navy ensign. The value of the recycle is absolutely not the point of his work, considering that it has been done in the past century, but in this context it takes a symbolic valence of Noahic preservation of the rejects.

Rossella Biscotti
"I dreamt that you changed into a cat...gatto...ha ha ha"
Compost sculpture and audio, 2013

Arthur Bispo do Rosário
Some untitled sculptures and tapestries
Different recycled materials

More "garbages" or rejects are present in the video by the duo Jos De Gruyter and Harald Thys, where the existential dramas of the characters, represented by sad puppets, animate with anonymous computer voices in a squalid and depressing small theatre.

Another artist inspired by a mystical vision is the Ivorian Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, who persuaded himself to spread with a picture syllabary the oral traditions of his peple, the Bété, a tribal community with a social order characterised by the presence of two chiefs recognisable for cleverness, a meticulous opposition to marriage between relatives and the high consideration and equal rights for women other than the cult for maternal iconography, albeit men can espouse up to three wives contemporaneously, even beating away the previous ones. The artworks by Bouabré, behind the naïve and tribal appearance, hide sometimes unexpected political contents of international level. There are more artworks of him also at the Pavilion of the Côte d'Ivoire.

There are also some paintings, pencil drawings and a tapestry of another African artist, the Senegalese Papa Ibra Tall, the proponent of négritude, or the conservation of the primitive character of African people. He has promoted a school deprived of a too much advanced education in favour of an artistic expression free and tied to traditions: in other words, to prevent cultural evolution of Africans keeping them in an state of inferiority.
I do not say that cultural evolution is always good, but also to deprive someone of the faculty to know is a way to subjugate him.

Harun Farocki then presents a video on the transmission of people's spiritual values through some places of devotion in the world.

Jos De Gruyter and Harald Thys
"Das Loch" [The Hole], 2010
Video, 26'

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré
The Bété syllabary
Ball-pint pen and crayons on paper

A tapestry by Papa Ibra Tall

Harun Farocki
"Übertragung" [Transmission], 2007
Video (colour,sound), 43'

In the next room, the memory is still protagonist, but in a mnemonic sense: the video by Aurélien Froment tells about the theatrical feats of a mnemonist, revolving around the Theatre of Memory by Giulio Camillo, with ample references to the magical power of those representations.

From magic to occult the step is short: we completely enter again in the mysticism with the short film by Tamar Guimarães and Kasper Akhøj based on a map realised by a spiritist Brazilian community that locates the spiritual colonies and the "transitory cities" of the country.

Aurélien Froment
"Camillo's Idea", 2013
HD video (sound), 26' 18"
Tamar Guimarães e Kasper Akhøj, "A Familia do Capitão Gervasio" [The Family of Captain Gervasio], 2013
16mm film (black and white, silent), 14'

I have not get the meaning of the video "Ricerche: three" by Sharon Hayes, other than the citation of the Pasolinian cinema verité, but after all the artist herself declared to have no clue where would end this project, in an interview recorded during the development of this video.

Also the meaning of the huge installation by Matt Mullican was quite cryptic, but in the official interview the artist conceded many explanations, thou being still extremely weird: the artwork is the manifestation of the thought of a personage or alter ego he calls "That Person" (risen during his researches on hypnosis and the irrational) which is in an isolation state, it is virtual but wants to be real, it sleeps but wish to wake up.

Typologically similar is the work by Michael Schmidt, but with an intent apparently tied to the encyclopaedic concept and related to an analysis of the alimentary-materialistic needs of modern societies.

Sharon Hayes, "Ricerche: three", 2013
HD video, 38'

Matt Mullican
Untitled "(Learning form That Person’s Work)", 2013
Installation with drawings and photos on isometric paper and sheets, objects and performances in video

Michael Schmidt
"Lebensmittel" [Food], 2006-10

Pawel Althamer is protagonist with an entire room crowded by his sculptures, keeping his monolithic and well-known concept of the bodily transience as "ark" rowing across the soul: a mass of dismembered and skeletal person with closed eyes, as an army of dormant and passive zombies. Not wanting to contradict the veracity of the fundamental concept, I personally find these artworks a bit nihilistic.
One of his sculptures is present also in the video "History Zero" by Stefanos Tsivopoulos which is visible at the Greek Pavilion.

Pawel Althamer
"Venetians", 2013
90 polyethylene sculptures, acrylic resin, metal and paint

A bit like it happened in the previous edition for the parapavilions, we arrive in a space curated by a single artist, in this case by the icon Cindy Sherman, who has selected the artworks of the following names: Enrico Baj, Miroslaw Nalka, Hans Bellmer, Vlassis Caniaris, James Castle, George Condo, John DeAndrea, Jimmie Durham, Linda Fregni Nagler, Phyllis Galembo, Norbert Ghisoland, Yervant Gianikian e Angela Ricci Lucchi, Robert Gober, Duane Hanson, Herbert List, Paul McCarthy, Pierre Molinier, John Outterbridge, Carol Rama, Charles Ray, Hans Schärer, Karl Schenker, Jim Shaw, Laurie Simmons and Allan McCollum, Drossos P. Skyllas, Rosemarie Trockel, Günter Weseler and Sergey Zarva, other that the ex-voto of the Sanctuary of Romituzzo, the Haitian Voodoo banners, the Paños (pillows) drawed by Mexican detained in the U.S.A. and obviously some photographic albums of the collection of Cindy Sherman.
This space by Sherman is perhaps one of the most disquieting and it continues the concept introduced with Althamer amplifying and elevating it to limits of the thought bringing to consider the human body almost a raw matter, impure, abusable, exploitable, comparing it to that of puppets, dolls, dummies and inanimate semblances (or Golems), returning also on the atmospheres of the woman as object, lobotomiseddoll.
Strolling in this fair of oddities , we find the surprising giant model by Ray, some etchings of Bellmer, mostly known for his mannequin dolls, representing erotic interpenetrations and internal views of bodies; we find the photos that Schenker did to his fine vitrine wax mannequins of delicate ladies as much idealised as verisimilar, and near the photos that List did to the bizarre medical and historical mannequins from the disused Panoptikum at the Prater of Vienna; the visually romantic watercolours by Rama, some of which have been already seen in a previous edition, with women bodies amputated or in sexual behaviours as much deviated as innocent; the fetishisms and the erotic perversions photographed by Moliner with women as dolls and creatures with ambiguous sexuality; a hyperrealistic mannequin by Hanson; there are the photos that Simmons and McCollum did to some minuscules models of people in 1:220 scale that enlarged seem like human faces and bodies disfigured and in suppuration; we find the disquieting and archetypal madonnas by Schärer along with the disquieting vintage photographs of babies impended by the spooky presence of their own mothers cloaked in the background; there is a dolls house, theme present also at the Central Pavilion, realised by Gober and offering to the visitor a panoptical, ghostly and Hopperian vision on the meagre human existence; there are the photographs of people wholly hidden behind costumes and masks by Galembo and the video by Gianikian and Ricci Lucchi that with some old toys reveals all the violence of the human society that is inclined to hatred and war; the painting by Condo represents a mother with bird's head, recalling the prehistoric myths of the bird-woman.
At last there are some sculptures: the gorgeous painted bronze by DeAndrea, which cold and realistic matter really makes us to ask ourselves what is the human body, beside the huge puppet by McCarthy which is openable to see the viscera, and a wooden marionette by Durham dedicated to Jesus, partially covered of mud and with the erect penis, suggesting his earthly materiality.
We close with a sculpture by Bałka representing a monstruous pope, as mummified and with his characteristic headdress coming from the ancient Assyrian myth of the Oannes, the terrible fish men, entitled to the Black Pope, that according to some traditions is that pope devoted to Satan, but more effectively is the Superior General of the Jesuits, the highest authority of the Company of Jesus.

Charles Ray
"Fall '91", 1992
Various materials

Some photos of the wax mannequinsby
Karl Schenker from 1925-26
Inkjet prints

Herbert List
One of the photos of the mannequins from the Panoptikum
Silver gelatin prints

Laurie Simmons and Allan McCollum
"The Actual Photos", 1985
Cibachrome prints, 32 artworks from a series of 51

Carol Rama
Some watercolours on paper, 1939-1946

Pierre Molinier
Some black and white photos and collages, 1965-1971

George Condo
"Listen to Maternal Voices (Portrait of Monika)"
(detail), 1985
Oil on canvas

Hans Schärer
A "Madonna"
Oil and various materials on board

Some ex-voto from the Sanctuary of Romituzzo
Poggibonsi (Siena), XVI-XIX centuries

Robert Gober
"Doll House 4", 1978
Wood, paint, Plexiglas, corrugated cardboard, stones, cement, glue, Formica

 Duane Hanson
"Bus Stop Lady", 1983
Polyvinyl policrhomed in oil, mixed media with accessories

Jimmi Durham
"Jesus. Es geht um die Wurst" [Gesù. Or all or Nothing], 1992
Wood, iron, steel, ink, paperm acrylic, mud, glue

Paul McCarthy
"Children's Anatomical Educational Figure", ~ 1990
Fabric, wool, found object

John DeAndrea
"Ariel II", 2011
Painted bronze

Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi
"Ghiro ghiro tondo (Carrousel de jeux)", 1997-2006
Betacam SP video (colour, sound), 60'

Mirosław Bałka
"Czarny papież i czarna owca"
[Black pope and black sheep], 1987
Wood, carpet, fabric, steel, paint

The four videos by Ryan Trecartinpresent a superficial and schizophrenic youth world dominated by the television culture and by the digital relations, full of talk shows, realities and sport programs, dense of subtle forms of competition, violence, sexual antagonism, consumerist materialism. They are videos made with a critical spirit that for the people subdued to these mechanisms are indeed adding and mixing to the rest, bloating the waves of that stormy sea. The booth is something like a miniature mall, projected with many sofas where you can rest, placed as usual at the middle point of the visiting ride.

The next room is thematically dedicated to industry and artisan production, to technology and to digital: there are the industrial materials of the sculptures by Alice Channer; the humorous installation "Analogue Broadcasting Hardware Compression" by Simon Denny revealing the systematical deceit of technological evolution functional to consumerism; the cold black digital textures by Wade Guyton, the compositions by Channa Horwitz subjected to the binary canons of informatics, the monochromatic panels by Prabhavathi Meppayil made with copper wires soaked into gypsum, which recall to me the invisible omnipresence of electric cables into the house walls; the large format collages by Albert Oehlen realised with advertising pages and images related to consumerism and mass marketing; lastly the reproductions of some monochromatic IKB paintings by Yves Klein made by Pamela Rosenkranz starting from computer pictures of low quality where the imperfections are emphasised in the several steps of the digital printing process. A video by James Richards after some sequences of symbols representing money, technology and sex, ends on a parakeet trying in vain to take off  shocked by the flashes of a stroboscopic light: quite a remarkon all we have seen in this section.

Simon Denny
"Analogue Broadcasting Hardware Compression", installation, 2013

  Detail of an artwork by Channa Horwitz
Plaka on Mylar

Wade Guyton
Detail from untitled artworks, 2011
Inkjet  prints on linen

Albert Oehlen
One of the untitled collages, 2009
Collage on paper

James Richards, "Rosebud", 2013
Single channel video (black and white, sound), 10'

Then we enter a section in darkness, full of videos and installations: Mark Leckey proposes a videoinstallation with objects of archetypal powerful magical symbolism, supporting that technology will row us across to a animistic-symbolist society.
Helen Marten is present with a video and some sculptures, them too related on the objects, trying to expose the mystifications of many consumerist everyday furnishings, but that are assuming the characteristics of amulets, like apotropaic idols.
At last we find the apotheosis of the occult symbology in the mega mural projection by Stan VanDerBeek taking us back on the esoteric track with a huge selection of videos and films perspiring, encyclopaedically, all the traditional mystic intelligence: places and personages tied to masonries, simulacra of ancient deities, Egyptian stylemes and hypnotic lysergic psychedelias, doll-women and sexual objects in bodies without conscience, and so on.

Helen Marten
"Orchids, or a hemispherical bottom", 2013
Video with sculptures

Mark Leckey, "The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things", 2013

Stan VanDerBeek, "Movie Mural lisa filme", 2013
Selection of videos and 16mm and 35mm films

Also in the video by Yuri Ancarani (banally a surgical endoscopic operation done with the Da Vinci robot, in remember of the personage associated to the Illuminati), the aseptic and icy medic technology enters the soft body of man who is bearing upon the technology to survive: a transhuman vision per se.
Some lighting installation by Otto Piene that barely brighten the totally dark room take us in other obscure and nihilistic rooms: the videoinstallation by Dieter Roth, who is the subduing protagonist of an Orwellian video controlling system that have recorded every single aspect of his private life in the last years of life, is a sad ascertainment of how the need of an individual to be protagonist, who is subduing to the desires of the voyeuristic spirit of the others, is the key for which people are falling into the trap of privacy demise. Bruce Nauman can not be absent, with one of his actions examining the apparently aimless behaviours, in this case with an autohypnotic and estranging spinning of the head emitting a sort of mantra, clearly a reference to the whirling Sufi and other oriental disciplines.

Dieter Roth, "Solo Szenen" [Solo Scenes], 1997-98
Videoinstallation, 131 monitors, 3 wooden racks, 131 VHS videotapes
Yuri Ancarani
"Da Vinci", 2012
HD video, colour, 5.1 surround sound, 25'

Otto Piene, "Hängende Lichtkugel", 1972
and other lighting installations
Chromed brass

Bruce Nauman, "Raw Material with Continuous Shift-MMMM", 1991
Videoinstallation, videoprojector, colour video screens, variable dimensions

From darkness we come back to light, but not that of the artwork by Walter De Maria, partial recycling of another huge installation of Land Art that in this case has been conceptually reconfigured as a symbolic interface between reason and instict.

Walter De Maria, "Apollo's Ecstasy", 1990, 20 solid bronze rods

We are arrived to the end of the main thematic exhibition's ride and from here the Arsenale hosts the other national pavilions present in the two main venues.

The Pavilion of Lebanon presents two videoinstallations by Akram Zaatari inherent to war, as one would expect from that massacred country.

Akram Zaatari
excerpts from "Saida June 6", 1982, 16mm film, 80"
and "Letter to a Refusin Pilot", 2013, film and video installation, 35'

The Chilean Pavilion presents the installation by Alfredo Jaar "Venezia, Venezia" with which he complains the obsolete structure of the manifestation based on subdivision into national pavilions.
The sinking and reemerging of the Giardini's model, combined to the photograph of the Lucio Fontana's studio destroyed in the bombardment, recalls the Arabian Phoenix's myth, the force of will that resuscitates from its ashes.

Alfredo Jaar
"Venezia, Venezia", 2013
Installation, metal pool, model of the Giardini to scale 1:60, hydraulic system
Lightbox with a portrait of Lucio Fontana in his studio destroyed during the war, 1946

The Pavilion of Kosov is occupied by an installation by Petrit Halilaj realised with mud and tree branches coming from Kosov which seems like a nest or cocoon acting as home for two canaries that until a short time before were in the artist's studio and as wardrobe for a dress of canary yellow colour. The artwork talks of the inadequacy of these little beings if left free in the nature as a parallelism with the human being that hence would be  too inadequate for natural life and needing a protection, a shelter. At the time of my visit there were no traces of the canaries but thousands of defecations on the floor.

Simon Denny
"Analogue Broadcasting Hardware Compression", installation, 2013

As to continuing the topic on human abilities, the Pavilion of Turkey proposes the series of videos by Ali Kazma entitled "Resistance", investigations on the endurance of human body to different social customs to which people submit, like the tattoo, the UVA rays tanning, the body building, the Shibari, et cetera.

Ali Kazma, excerpts from the videos "Resistance", 2013

The Pavilion of Barhain, at his debut, proposes instead the work of three national artists, in order to offer more opportunities to new generations. As you would expect, the theme of woman and her social condition in an Islamic country is predominant: from the paintings by Marian Haji who deals the antagonism between genders, to the photos by Waheeda Malillah, by now a bit trite, representing women cloaked into their black abayas who face everyday life. And at last a note on nomadism with the collages of the documentarist photographer Camille Zakharia.

 Mariam Haji, "The Victory" (detail), 2013, charcoal, crayons, pigments and paint on paper. 270 x 800 cm

Waheeda Malullah, serie "A Villager's Day Out" (detail), 2008, digital prints on paper

Camille Zakharia
"c/o" (detail), 2013
Photocollage on paper, 152 x 584 cm

The Indonesian Pavilion is based on the concept of Sakti, the primordial generating force, surely related to the skill of the six actual artists (Albert Yonathan, Sri Astari, Eko Nugroho, Entang Wiharso, Titarubi, Rahayu Supanggah), which artworks are arranged in an atmosphere seeming to amalgamating into a conceptual unicum: a curatorial project very well devised and with an emotional impact.
Unluckily there are no information materials.

 Entang Wiharso
Details of some sculptural installations, evoking conflicts between mysterious adepts

Eko Nugroho
Sculptural installation

 Titarubi, detail of the installation with huge books on wooden desks
In the background: Albert Yonathan, installation, labyrinth of ceramics

Sri Astari, installation detail with
marionette-dancers and symbols of Eros and Thanatos

In the Pavilion of Latvia there are the videoportraits by Kaspars Podnieks that seem to criticise the immobility or the inability to react of the rural society, and an installation by Krišs Salmanis denouncing the colossal pulling down of the forests, once considered pride of the country.

Kaspars Podnieks
Videos from the series "Rommel's dairy", 2013
Videos and digital prints 200 x 140 cm

Krišs Salmanis
"North by Northeast", 2013
Installation, wood, metal, motor, electronic components

At the Pavilion of the Istituto Italo-Latino Americano (IILA)they did not fell out the habit: by entering you find yourself like into a clashing Pachinko room. A tunnel with many video artworks and amplified audio that create a dazing cacophony. Arrived almost at the end of the exhibition itinerary, it is hard to ponder other than the traditional artworks also the too many videos.
One of the most striking project is the video in form of commercial advertising the perfume "U from Uruguay" created by Martín Sastre using floral essences coming from the garden cultivated by the Uruguayan President Jose Mujica. The 90% of the proceeds of the one bottle of perfume will finance the first National Fund for Contemporary Art, on the wave of the presidential example for he is donating the 90% of his wage to housing projects; the usual demagogic propaganda that do not discuss the social order established and fundamentally unfair (a personality of such level has much more involvements and interests into global economical and financial spheres, and he can easily pass over a miserable official wage of $12,000.) Also this video and the bottle itself are stuffed of esoteric-masonic subjects: from the pyramid with separated cuspid to the scenes evoking those from the movie "Eyes Wide Shut" by Kubrick.

Martín Sastre, the perfume "U from Uruguay" and some excerpts from the video, 2013

Apparently opposed it is the provocative video "ADN" by the artistic collective Quintapata, where it is criticised the scientific method in the scenery of mass control, warning of the Orwellian implications of the personal DNA tracing, which can be gathered even from a chewed chewing-gum. Important work, although it is handled too lightly. The visitors have been invited to taste the chewing-gums made available and then sticking them on the video screen as a disparaging act, but indeed doing an act of trust.

Quintapata, "ADN", 2013, videoinstallation, 27'

In the middle of the room we find two floor installations; Lucía Madriz has realised a mandala with rice grains and legumes all rigorously organic, representing a molecule of hemoglobin overlayed to one of chlorophyll, revealing how much similar are the fundamental bricks of life, both animal and vegetable, then alerting us about the GMO invasion infesting her country.
Sonia Falcone is presenting instead "Campo de Color", a more romantic, sensorial and aromatherapic multitude of colours and fragrant spices, which, counterbalancing the sweetish smell of the nearby chewing-gums, floods the room with a comfortable scent.

 Lucía Madriz
"Vitalis (Chloros phylon-Sanguis)" [Vital (Chlorine Blood breed)]
Installation, rice, dried organic beans and peas, 3 x 400 x 500 cm

Sonia Falcone
"Campo de Color", 2012-2013
Installation, pigments and spices

Instead, in my opinion, it is deplorable the artwork of the Italian Luca Vitone "Il sol dell'avvenire" [The sun of future] which appoints the money as a way to freedom and progress for the mankind toward a "new world". Beside there are, apparently opposing, the prints by Guillermo Srodek-Hart representing the poetry of a vanishing world overcome by modernity.

 Luca Vitone
"Il sol dell'avvenire", 2012-2013
Tableau, woolen fabric, paper and various materials, 100 x 150 x 100 cm

Guillermo Srodek-Hart
Photographs, 2010-2013
Pigment prints, 80 x 100 cm

Juliana Stein has done a documentary work on how it is expressed the individual freedom sentiment of the persons confined, yet again, in a prison; a research comparable to the one we did for the 2nd edition of the Toilets Pavilion, which investigates the free expression of the people "confined" outside art. Also the video by Susanna Arwas examines the manifestations of folk expression through the graffiti she photographed in Venezuela.
Simón Vega has instead realised the sculpture "Third World Sputnik", a reproduction of the soviet capsule Sputnik 10 realised with cans and other garbages picked around El Salvador; it is not known if this is a denounce or a derision or an exhortation.

 Juliana Stein
"Caverna", 2006-2008
6 photographs from the series, 100 x 100 cm

Simón Vega
"Third World Sputnik", 2013
Cloth, found aluminum cans, plastic, light, sound, 140 x 500 x 80 cm

The video "Orientación" [Orientation] by Christian Jankowski, where tens of citizens are blindfolded and oriented to one of the characteristic mountains of Montevideo, knowing the continuous recurring to masonic references that is pervading the Biennale, really seems a mass ritual to evoke the rite of initiation of the new adepts of Masonry, whom eyes are blindfolded before to enter into one on the Lodges, also called Orients.
Also the video "Blak Mama", as in a sort of Dante's Divina Comedia for Latinos, is stuffed with references to mysticism, to deviating habits and to "esoteric journey", or that itinerary that the adept undertakes toward enlightenment.
On the contrary, the video-object dedicated "A la tumba perdida de Andrés Castro, a los héroes sin tumba de Nicaragua" [To the lost tomb of Andrés Castro, to the heroes of Nicaragua without tomb] by Marcos Agudelo evokes the heroism of the small ones against the powerful ones, as David defeating Goliath.
The video "Knock Out" by Jhafis Quintero, instead shows the fight against oneself, of which I ask myself what would the aim be, but probably it focuses on the outdoing of one's own abilities, an oxymoron that we should instead reformulate as outdoing of one's own sloth.
On the same point and as previously dealt with, also David Zink Yi in "Pneuma" investigates on the limits of the human body, along the lines of the performances by Jochen Gerz in the 70s.

Next some excerpts from the various videos.

François Bucher, "The Second and a Half Dimension", 2010, installation,
HD video (colour, sound), 9' and black and white print, 70 x 90 cm

Marcos Agudelo
"A la tumba perdida de Andrés Castro, a los héroes sin tumba de Nicaragua", 2008, videoinstallation, video-object, lava block with iPod slot, 12 x 10 x 8 cm

Miguel Alvear and Patricio Andrade, "Blak Mama", 2009
HD video (colour, sound), 95'
Jhafis Quintero, "Knock Out", 2012
Video DVD, 11'

Fredi Casco
"Ghost Chaco", 2009, video (colour, sound)
Harun Farocki and Antje Ehmann
"Labor in a Single Shot", 2012-2013, video, 15 chapters, 19'68" totally

Susana Arwas
"La cadena de los tiempos II", 2013, photographs on video
Christian Jankowski, "Orientación", 2012
Video (black and white, sound), 8'25"

Exited from the IILA Pavilion, there is the curious videoinstallation by Erik van Lieshout,a drive-in to watch some interviews filmed in Tanzania on the right for knowledge.

Erik van Lieshout, "Ego", 2013
Videoinstallation, HD video, LED screen, cars

Then we enter into the Pavilion of Bahamas presenting the project Polar Eclipse by Tavares Strachan dedicated to the Arctic continent and to the culture of its inhabitants, they too subjected to the effects of globalisation.
One of the neon sculptures of the triptych "Here and Now" receiving visitors at the entrance was broken.
Despite the noble stated intent,in the essence of its narrative syntax I find ambiguously macabre the video "40 Days and 40 Nights of the series", where a choir of Inuit children disappears leaving an empty stage. Also the collage drawings "Constellation" represent creatures in extinction, composed with a delicate pointillism of subjects from various cultures twined with numbers recalling the ones on patent's drawings, referring to genetic engineering with which some would like to patent life.
It is amazing the sculpture of blown glass plunged into mineral oil "How I Became Invisible" reproducing the skeletal-circulatory system of Mathew Hanson (one of the two Yankees who first reached the North Pole), but unfortunately it is not properly reproducible in photos.
The installation "The Difference Between What We Have and What We Want a block of Arctic ice" is surely the most praiseworthy for it is criticises the crave for wanting what one do not have even at by moving mountains and waste a lot of energies: has been brought up to Venice and maintained into a shrine with a cooling system (but running on solar energy.)

Tavares Strachan, "40 Days and 40 Nights", 2013, video

Global view of the Pavilion of Bahamas

 Tavares Strachan
"The Howl", series "Constellation", 2013
Paper, pigments and Mylar on Plexiglas

Tavares Strachan
"The Difference Between What
We Have And What We Want
Two refrigerated ice blocks

The Pavilion of Georgia entitled Kamikaze Loggia is hosted into a structure realised for the occasion by Gio Sumbadze on the style of the parasitical architectonic extensions built by the population to broaden their own apartments in the Georgia out of control after the fall of the Soviet Union. These structures, right to stay into the Masonic Lodges theme, are called Kamikaze loggias. These informations in themselves represent the thematic most interesting element of this pavilion, whilst the proposals of the other artists hosted in the inside (which have a minimalist post-industrial look totally shabby), thou related likewise to social themes, stay confined in universes too relativistic and closed.

Global view of the Georgian Pavilion

Inside view of the Kamikaze Loggia

Bouillon Group
"Religious Aerobics", 2010-2013

After the last edition excessively poetical, surprisingly the Chinese Pavilion is monolithically involved with the consideration on the existential condition in a totalitarian and oppressive world, insomuch even Ai Weiwei could have took part in it, although there is some transhuman mirage.
But this is the sign of transformation in progress in their society, which anyway leads to a permissive relativism and to powerlessness in front of the economic powers. China wants to prove it is tolerant, but also technopathic, with no less than a small aeroplane in the video "Limitless" by Miao Xiaochun that with a mephitic gas trail transforms humans and fruits into digitised statues, and a posthuman cyber-Judgement Day.
We find the disconcerting photographs by Wang Qingsong, disquieting infernal visions of people into school classrooms, at the emergency room, in the libraries; but also the all-beautiful paintings by Tong Hongsheng portraying no less than Buddhist subjects, to remind the never healed wound of Nepal.

Globally this pavilion promotes a human evolution toward the posthuman cybernetic existence, representing at one end a natural and physical world made of suffering, and to the other end a limitless and aseptic virtual space, even through the spiritual transition of nihilism. Creepy China!
Would you like to be dematerialised to born again digitised into a virtual system where to endure as electronic entities that continue to pay taxes for the eternity? Bravo...

Wang Qingsong, "Temporary Ward" and detail, 2008
Lightbox, 180 x 300 cm

Wang Qingsong, "Follow You", 2013
C-print, 180 x 300 cm

A painting by Tong Hongsheng
with the technique of Vermeer

Miao Xiaochun, "The Last Judgement in Cyberspace", 2006
C-print in two parts
Miao Xiaochun, "Limitless", 2011-2013
3D computer animation, 10'

Zhang Xiaotao, "Sakya" ["Pale Earth", one of the Tibetan Buddhist schools], 2011, computer animation, 15'06"

Zhang Xiaotao, "The Adventure of Liang Liang", 2013, computer animation, 11'51"

Zhang Xiaotao, "Mist", 2008, computer animation, 34'06"

More installations of the Chinese Pavilion are at the outside: "The Sea Water of Venice" by He Yunchang, invites to grab one of the available bottles with seawater leaving another one with other seawater; the relocation of a temple in Hui style with which China would prove the interest for their traditions despite the frenetic transformation; and a sort of small Great Wall made of transparent bricks with words and phrases from Chinese culture translated automatically by Google, perhaps to say that for Western people it is not easy to understand certain aspects of their country, but in this telematic context the artwork surely omits the government censorship topic.

 He Yunchang
"The Sea Water of Venice", 2013
Glass bottles, table, seawater
(All the original bottles have been replaced by the visitors with plastic bottles)

Hu Yaolin
 "Thing-in-itself", 2013

Shu Yong
"Guge Bricks 1500", 2013
1500 slogan and words on transparent bricks

Argentinian Pavilion not available: this is the second, and not the last, we found closed!

The Pavilion of Argentina was closed: lack of substitution personnel?

The Pavilion of United Arab Emirates Messianically entitled Walking on Water presents the artwork "Directions" by Mohammed Kazem: an immersive installation with a high sea panorama and a platform with GPS coordinates. The sea expanse is very exciting, but the tracking Global Positioning System, another tile toward the creation of an Orwellian world, express the absurd (and encyclopaedic) obstinacy of the man-scientist in reducing Nature into something indexable, definable or recordable.

Mohammed Kazem, "Directions", 2005-2013

The Pavilion of South Africa is very ample.
Charming and proud are the persons photographed by Andrew Putter who catalogues the various ethnic groups of black people.
Similarly Zanele Muholi portrays visages of persons with a nonconventional sexuality. The political instrumentalisation of personal sexual inclinations has come to South Africa:if really one wants to have acceptance, what is the point in continuing to propose these distinctions?
An old pass booklet for black people photocopied by Sue Williamson, the collages by Sam Nhlengethwa,the video by Penny Siopis, the paintings by David Koloane and the video "REwind" evoke the apartheid times that has left, despite it is by now a closed chapter, a mark in the spirits of black people. Johannes Phokela paints ancient Western nobles without face on a background of "biological" colour.
Joanne Bloch tries to rebuild the actual cultural context of her country with some false gold reproductions of objects coming from three collections, two of colonial kind and one of the natives.
Amazing the book sculptures held together with the help of bolts created by Wim Botha.

Andrew Putter
"Native Work", 2012
15 silver gelatin prints 50 x 35 cm
17 digital images on screen

Zanele Muholi
"Faces and Phases", 2006+
Series of 200 prints on paper

David Koloane
"The Journey", 1998
Series of 19 acrylic and oil paintings on 29 x 42 cm papers

Zanele Muholi
"Glimpses of the Fifties and Sixties", 2002-2003
Series of 30 collages and mixed media on 36 x 47 cm papers

Johannes Phokela
Series "Collar II", oil sketches on paper, 77 x 59 cm
"Son of a rich man", 2006
"Army officer", 2006

Philip Miller, Gerhard Marx and Maja Marx
"REwind", 2007-2013
Audiovisual installation with monitors and headphones

Joanne Bloch
"Hoard", 2012-2013
Clay, gold spray and silk velvet
Penny Siopis
"Obscure White Messenger", 2010
Single channel digital video, sound, 15'04"

 Wim Botha
"Study for the Epic Mundane"], 2013, books and stainless steel, 155 x 188 x 183 cm

Wim Botha
 Senza titolo (Serie "Witness I", 2011, African encyclopaedia, wood and stainless steel, 45 x 21 x 22 cm

Wim Botha
"Generic Self-Portrait as an Exile", 2013, dictionaries and stainless steel, 46 x 32 x 27 cm

And then we arrive to the Italian Pavilion, which is quite ample too and that shares the external space with the installation of China: Piero Golia with "My gold is yours" casts a smart provocation mixing some gold powder into a monolith of cement inviting the visitors to detach pieces to take away, whilst we can see the traces of the performative installations by Sisley Xhafa acted during the inauguration.
Also in the inside there are installations as remains of performances; Marcello Maloberti is present with two cryptic totemic artworks: "La voglia matta" [The mad desire], a marble monolith where there acted four performers with beach towels, and the series "Bolidi" [Meteors or Racing cars] made of weird bar tables, studded belts and yellow melons that have been used by some fifty people. Nearby, the artoworks "La Cupola" [The Dome] and "Rome Bone China" by Flavio Favelli evoke the Roman Catholic culture hinting to the advancing of the Chinese economic hegemony.

 Marcello Maloberti
"La voglia matta", 2013
Marble rock, beach towels, fanzine
In front some of the "Bolidi"

Marcello Maloberti
Some of the "Bolidi", 2013
Wooden bar tables, mirrors, belts, melons

 Flavio Favelli
"La Cupola", 2013
Sheet metal, wood, glass, neon

Flavio Favelli
"Rome Bone China", 2013
Decals on vintage plates

The several artists have been subdivided into groups of two coupled following opposing definitions, from which the title of the pavilion Vice Versa.

Again conceptually cryptic are the two opposing artworks on the theme perspective/surface by Giulio Paolini and Marco Tirelli.

Giulio Paolini, "Quadri di un'esposizione" [Squares of an exhibition], 2013, pencil drawings and various elements on wall, dull white base, Plexiglas shrine with etched drawing, 36 Plexiglas sheets

Marco Tirelli, untitled, 2013
Mixed media on paper, bronze, wood, plaster, mirror, glass, plasticine, clay, brass and burnt wood
In the background: Giulio Paolini

The huge installation by Marco Tirelli reintroduce the topic of esoterism, temporarily interrupted with the national participations, with symbols and objects related to the mystical-scientific-alchemical world: the owl, the guillotine, the compass, the alembic, the dissections, et cetera.

Marco Tirelli, untitled, 2013
More details of the installation

Also the artwork "Piccolo sistema" [Small system] by Gianfranco Baruchello (a minimal apartment/studio including a bed) proposes again the scientific research as human salvation in the thematic system/fragment which has as opposing artwork "The Dry Salvages" by Elisabetta Benassi(an expanse of 10,000 bricks made with the clay coming from the places flooded of Polesine and marked with the names of the space debris orbiting around Earth listed in a dedicated catalogue) that depicts a menacing, hostile and merciless nature.

Gianfranco Baruchello, "Piccolo sistema", 2012-2013
Structure of wood and various materials

Elisabetta Benassi, "The Dry Salvages", 2013
~ 10,000 bricks, sand, book

The previous two artworks can be conceptually summarised by "Due" [Two] by Massimo Bartolini, consisting in an itinerary with two alternatives: a plain and even way impended by the writings ASCOLTARE [TO LISTEN] and CAMMINARE [TO WALK] and that it is leading nowhere, and a rough rise combined to the writing CANTERELLARE [TO SING SOFTLY] from which you can see an opening to a compartment which is inaccessible thou. The words are the ones by Giuseppe Chiari and include also PIANOTER (to thrum in French), placed at the start, and FANTASTICARE (TO FANTASISE) placed in the inaccessible room. Also this artwork seems to be related to the initiation path and to the existence in an occult sphere which access is not easily reachable. In fact the mirages offered by the Multi-Level Marketing, by religions and other hierarchical structures, all versions of the pyramidal exploitation existing in thousands flavours in our morbid society.

The artwork by Bartolini, in the opposition sound/silence it has been twined "Fe2O3, Ossido ferrico" by Francesca Grilli, an performative installation consisting of an iron plate which is eroded by a water dripping driven by vocalisations through a microphone: an allegory of the will and of the endurance.

Massimo Bartolini, "Due", 2013
Bronze casts and the 5 artworks by Giuseppe Chiari "Ascoltare", "Camminare", "Canterellare", "Fantasticare", "Pianoter"

Francesca Grilli, "Fe2O3, Ossido Ferrico", 2013
Performance, iron plate, water, voice, microphone

For the subject view/place, the work "Viaggio in Italia" [Travel in Italy] by Luigi Ghirri, a collection of photographs shoot by 20 photographers between 70s and 80s, is coupled to the olfactory and invisible "per l'eternità" [for the eternity] by Luca Vitone, consisting in the diffusion of three rhubarb essences in the pavilion spaces (that at the time of my visit I did not perceived thou) in memory of the invisible menace of asbestos still persisting in Italy.

For body/history have been coupled the huge heap of earth, equalling the weight of the one dug to bury the corpses in several mass graves and placed in some wooden and iron monoliths by Francesco Arena, with the performance "Ideologia e Natura" [Ideology and Nature] by Fabio Mauri, an enervating striptease that, although raising consensus among more intellectual persons for the appreciable conceptual subject against subjugation and totalitarianism,  it will raise pressure and raise up something more to basically sadist.

Luigi Ghirri, "Viaggio in Italia", 2013
117 photographs realised by 20 photographers

Francesco Arena, "Massa sepolta"
[Buried mass], 2013
80 m³ of earth, wood, cement, metal

Fabio Mauri, "Ideologia e Natura", 1973, performance

I wanted to end the visit to the Arsenale with the debutant Pavilion of the  Holy See to which the Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi gave the obvious title In principio [In the Beginning]. Apart the three artworks by Tano Festa that inevitably refer to the "Creation of Adam" and the " Original Sin" from the Michelangelo's Cappella Sistina, the pavilions is subdivide in three child themes assigned to three artists: Creation to Studio Azzurro, De-Creation to Josef Koudelka and Re-Creation to Lawrence Carroll.
The Studio Azzurro arranged an interactive videoinstallation talking about nature and the life condition through the words of people on the screens that can be activated with the touch, among which there are, yet again, also convicts.
Koudelka is present with some excellent black and white photographs exploring several sceneries of destruction: from the war to the urban decay, to the pollution, to the exploitation of the environment. The photographs have been placed on the floor, perhaps as a sign of blame for destruction.
Carrols has been assigned to Re-Creation probably for the way he realises his artworks through multiple processes and the use of recycled materials. He is exhibiting some untitled white paintings, of which one is frozen under a layer of ice.

Synthesising the Vatican Pavilion is little communicative and expectable. I would have expected less catechistic messages, and an initial impact more emotional and spiritual, whilst indeed after all it seems they have just venally promoted the artists to whom the collection of Holy See is betting.
Anyway, the Church, presumed guarantor of that ethics of Creation and natural orthodoxy, with a pavilion so weak, or maybe for a matter of numbers, it does not succeed in counterbalancing the charming world of illusion and magic proposed in the rest of the Biennale, then becoming subservient to that.

Tano Festa, untitled, 1979, photographic emulsion on canvas fixed on board and enamel, 162 x 200 cm

Studio Azzurro, "In Principio (e poi)", 2013
Interactive videoinstallation

Some photographs by Josef Koudelka

Some paintings by Lawrence Carroll

With this chapter the visit to the main venues closes. Next destination: around Venice!

But if you want to have a vision really global on the artistic panorama present at the Giardini and the Arsenale, you can visit also the Toilets Pavilion.

The Toilets Pavilion

The extreme observatory on the most popular and less considered form of Outsider Art, that we launched during the previous edition of the Biennale, this year returns even richer, with more artworks left by visitors inside the rest rooms of the Giardini and the Arsenale. You find the review of the 2nd Pavilion of the Toilets of the Biennale d'Arte di Venezia in this page.

Other national participations and collateral events

Outside the two main venues, the mystical atmosphere vanishes, taking us back of the planet of what is real.

To review the exhibition offered during the Biennale, between national participations and collateral events, not counting the alternative exhibitions, would need a limitless time, but let us see the shows that to me are more interesting and worth a visit.

Not to be missed is the Pavilion of Ireland with the show of an impressive multichannel videoinstallation, or to better say on film, where Richard Mosse tells, in a perfectly lucid way and with a very clear summarising narration, about how are insinuated into the naturally harmonious tribal culture of native people of Congo those deviating habits and behaviours typical of the modern man to push them into the trap of the self-destruction and of the war.
A punch in the stomach of war business! My compliments, excellent work, both for the contents and for the beauty, entirely filmed on infrared. Captivating, poetical and dramatic.

Richard Mosse
"Beaucoup of Blues" [Many Blues] and detail, 2012
Infrared digital photograph, c-print, 182,8 x 228,6 cm

Richard Mosse
"The Enclave", 2012-2013
16mm infrared film transferred on HD video, 39'25"

Very beautiful the Pavilion of Zimbabwe that without hesitations speaks of religious creeds. This pavilion hosts also the Mobile Emergency Room by Thierry Geoffroy/Colonel determined to debate the urgent sociopolitical problems.

Virginia Chihota
Some artworks from the series "Mistakes in the Right Lines", 2013
Pencil and oil pastel on paper, 192 x 150 cm, and two silkscreen prints on paper, 180 x 150 cm

 Portia Zvavahera, "Divine Water", 2013, ink on Fabriano paper, 144 x 95 cm

Portia Zvavahera, "Kuzviramba", 2013, ink on Fabriano paper, 100 x 105 cm

Portia Zvavahera, "His Presence", 2013, ink on Fabriano paper, 151 x 114 cm

Voti Thebe, "Sunrise with Mermaid", 2013, acrylic on canvas, 126 x 104 cm

 Michele Mathison, "Landscape", 2013, installation, charcoal and acrylic, variable dimensions

Of the Mobile Emergency Room I recommend the artwork by Mads Vind Ludvigsen "Natürlich Ist Nicht Gut" [Nature Is Not Good], which title is a phrase told by Peter Brabeck CEO of Nestlé, the bust seems right the one of  Brabeck to which it has been put in the mouth a GMO corn cob; but all the artworks are very important for they face real emergencies.

Two views on the Mobile Emergency Room

 Mads Vind Ludvigsen
"Natürlich Ist Nicht Gut", 2013

Nadia Plesner, "Syrian Lullaby", 2013

Nadia Plesner
Untitled (Egyptian women standing for their rights), 2013

The Pavilion of Angola Luanda Encyclopedic City has been awarded with the Golden Lion as best national participation, for “the curators and artist who together reflect on the irreconcilability and complexity of site”, that to me seems rather an encouragement prize for this first edition; anyway there are several interesting artoworks. The protagonist artist, Edson Chagas, placed on the floor several piles of prints with typographic reproductions of his photos on urban social research which which you can assemble your own catalogue of preferred artworks, obviously paid. In the same rooms there are some precious ancient artworks belonging to the exhibition venue.

Edson Chagas, series "Found Not Taken", 2009-2013
Photographic reproductions, typographic prints on paper

 Mayembe, "Vuata Nkampa Ku Makaya Katekela", 2006
Wood, 110 x 75 x 67 cm

Sónia Lukene, "É agora que é Futuro?"
 [Is it now that is Future?], 2010
Mixed technique on canvas, 99 x 99 cm (closed)

Marco Kabenda, "Quadro 8", 1995
Mixed media, collage on wood
91 x 118 cm

Very various the Pavilion of Iraq, country massacred by the invasion that justly still can not find rest but where art and life seem not to be annihilated for the tragic political destiny.
We find recycle art realised more as a denounce of the poverty than for aesthetic pleasure, immanent memories maybe nostalgic of Saddam Hussein, lives of political dissidents, visions of ancient bucolic life and more: a little biennale with many sofas where to have a moment of relaxation.

Jamal Penjweny
"Saddam is Here", 2010
Photographs, variable dimensions
Jamal Penjweny
"Another Life", 2010
Video, 16'15"

Abdul Raheem Yassir
Cartoon series, 2003-2013
Ink on paper, 21 x 29,7 cm

Akeel Khreef
"2", 2012
Bicycle parts, 59,5 x 104,5 x 47,3 cm

WAMI (Yaseen Wami, Hashim Taeeh), untitled, 2013
Cardboard and various materials, variable dimensions

Bassim Al-Shaker
"Date Sellers", 2011
"Woodcutters", 2011
Oil on canvas, 60 x 80 cm

Ali Samiaa
"The Love of Butterflies", 2010
Video, 20'00"

Very interesting also the Pavilion of Azerbaijan.

The entrance to the Pavilion of Azerbaijan "Carpet Interior", 2013 has been created by Farid Rasulov

The exceptional "projecting" sculptures by Rashad Alakbarov offer a charming point of view on chaos and order.

Rashad Alakbarov, "Miniature", 2013
Installation, iron, projector

Rashad Alakbarov, "Intersection", 2013
Installation, iron, projector

Rashad Alakbarov
Two different points of view of the artwork "It is not chaos", 2013
Installation, iron, projector

Kitsch effect for the photos by Fakhriyya Mammadova, for the ones loving this genre.
Instead the artwork "Blank History" by Chingiz has a solemn atmosphere: an multitude of historical symbols of several totalitarian and religious regimens laying in the dust (there are everyone), which are impended by a carpet without texture, symbolising the need to begin to write a new history.

 Fakhriyya Mammadova
Wedding: "Girlish Dreams", 2013
52 digital photographs, wooden frames

"Blank History", 2013
Cement, woollen handmade carpet, lime

The Pavilion of Bangladesh Supernatural, in spite of the naïf appearance of some artworks, transmits a planetary level message of peace between populations and harmony with nature, with so much simplicity that all the tragedies caused by men appear even more absurd. There are also artworks of other international artists.

In the same venue Officina delle Zattere there are other interesting exhibitions.

 Mahbub Zamal
"Jungle of humanity", 2013

Charupit School
"Activities in school time", 2013

 Lala Rukh Selim
"Life on the delta", 2013
Wood, pillows, iron, dried red chilli
peppers, hay, synthetic hair

Dhali Al-Mamoon
"elimination", Installation

Uttam Kumar Karmaker
"Save the nature", 2013
Mixed technique on canvas

I recommend also the delicate, soft and comfortable Thai Pavilion that does not follow the guidelines of the Encyclopedic Palace, but it proposes independent thematics. You will find the installation "Poperomia" by Wasinburee Supanichvoraparch and "Golden Teardrop", a video and an interactive sculpture by Arin Rungjang.

Wasinburee Supanichvoraparch
Views of the installation "Poperomia", bricks, ceramics, woollen thread

The Pavilion of Croatia Between sky and earth proposes the existential research based on dream by Kata Mijatović. A show full of performances in video.

Kata Mijatović, "I am not conscious", 2000
C-print on Dubond, 70 x 105 cm

Kata Mijatović, some excerpts from videos
and global view of the pavilion

Kata Mijatović
The cage where visitors are
invited to write their dreams

Kata Mijatović
A view of the pavilion

Also the Ukrainian Pavilion Monument to a Monument is rather interesting, as often it is with Post-Soviet countries: politic thematics, cultural evolution of the present, memory and inheritance from the past.

Mykola Ridnyi
"Platform", 2011
Granite, 45 x 20 x 30 cm
Mykola Ridnyi
Excerpts from "Shelter", "Father's story" and "Monument"

Zhanna Kadyrova
"Monument to a new monument"

Gamlet Zinkocskyi
"In solitude", 2012
Installation, A4 paper, ball-point pen

The Pavilion of Bosnia and Herzegovina The Garden of Delights presents several artworks by Mladen Miljanović on death and immortality, among which a reinterpretation of the painting "The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Hieronymus Bosch.

Mladen Miljanović, "The Garden of Delights", 2013, HD video, 5’48’’

Mladen Miljanović, "A Sweet Simphony of Absurdity", 2013, HD video, 5’48’’

The Slovene Pavilion presents For our Economy and Culture by Jasmina Cibic: two witty looping videos with the enervating discussions really existed between politicians and artistic directors on which project to choose for the decoration of the palace of People's Assembly, and an eloquent installation made with small middle-class living room paintings over a wallpaper of insects called Anophthalmus hitleri ["Hitler's no-eyed"], a blind coleopter species endemic of Slovenia.

External view of the Pavilion of Slovenia

Jasmina Cibic
Excerpts from the videos "Fruits of Our Land" and "Framing the Space"

Details of the installation

Nearby there is also the Central Asian Pavilion which was not possible to visit thou: this is the third and last national participation that this year we have found closed in full opening hours.

The Pavilion of Central Asia was closed

The Macedonian Pavilion presents Silentio Pathologia by Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva: a large dimension installation that, in opposition to the actual socio-political guidelines subservient to the globalised economy of labour, evokes the risks of migratory fluxes, this is to say the contagious diseases as the great pestilences that many times have marked human history. From the commercial exchanges on the Silk Road travelled by the Venetian Marco Polo, to rats.

Views on the installation "Silentio Pathologia" by Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva

Other ambient installation are shown by Irena Lagator Pejović at the Pavilion of Montenegro, which has received a mention from the jury. Indeed this pavilion seems to close the esoteric lapse, for we can find again connections to the esoteric themes of the Encyclopedic Palace: we start with the gilded threads in "Further than Beyond" that are barely visible into a dark room, as if they were the invisible weaves of a plot not clearly visible or esoteric, or maybe a metaphor of the spiritual life after death; we go through another totally darkened room, "Image Think" where there are tiny small holes from which you can see the external light seeming a virtual cosmos reflecting along with your image onto the mirror floor, making you feel to be immersed into that; we arrive in the room of "Ecce Mundi" [Here is the World] of total dazzling white, which walls, ceiling and floor are decorated with many tiny little men stylised as if they were frames of people spinning into the void, suggesting the anthropocentric and Illuministic though of human centrality in cosmos.

Irena Lagator Pejović,  "Ecce Mundi", 2013
Drawing and print on canvas, ink, pencil, neon, wood, 306 x 306 x 236 cm

Esoteric atmospheres also for Catherine Lorent, selected artist for the Pavilion of Luxembourg Relegation where I see an attempt to ,reconcile subversive culture of youth masses to the mystic oligarchy of the elites: like in a concert of The Beatles.

Catherine Lorent, some views on "Relegation"
Detail of one of the hermaphrodite statuettes with the colours of the Italian flag

The permeating presence of esoteric themes in all this Biennale justifies an interpretation with a mystic key also for the Icelander Pavilion: it is an ambient installation where an architecture finely decorated with regal patterns, evoking the Baroque and Arab styles, interpenetrates the exhibition venue not being part of it, as if the two structures were belonging to different dimensions but momentarily visible simultaneously; it seems an allusion to the existence of occult realities and societies.

Views of the installation "Foundation" by Katrín Sigurdardóttir

The Pavilion of Kenya, another debut of this year, is also a little biennale, with many different artworks, although it has been criticised for the scarce presence of artists from Kenya and too many from China, but it is anyway a pavilion full of interesting artworks, of which many are inherent to nature.

 Kivuthi Mbuno
"Savana 3", 2012
Acrylic on canvas, 107 x 152 cm

Li Wei
Series "Flying over Venice", 2013
Photographic prints from performance, 120 x 80 cm

 Fan Bo, "The Flowers Blow and Fade", 2011, oil on canvas, 230 x 120 cm

Lu Peng
"Puzzle", 2012
Chinese colour on paper, 155 x 200 cm

Chen Wenling, "Games", 2010, bronze, car paint, 201 x 60 x 50 cm

 Armando Tanzini
"La maschera bianca" [The white mask], 2013
Tempera on canvas, 110 x 160 cm

Armando Tanzini
"Africa" (detail), 2013
Aluminium, 135 x 135 cm

Feng Zhengjie, "Floating Floras Classic Series No. 01", 2010
Oil on canvas, 210 x 210 cm

Luo Ling & Liu Ke
Installation with video

Two steps away from the Kenyan Pavilion there is the exuberant installation by Bill Culbert "Front Door Out Back" for the New Zealander Pavilion: almost a set-up for tourists but showing also awareness for ecology.

Bill Culbert, some views on the installations of "Front Door Out Back"

The Pavilion of Portugal is surely the most extravagant: a boat docked at the Riva dei Partigiani all covered by Joana Vasconcelos with tiles illustrating a panoramic view of Lisbon before the earthquake of 1755. The floating artwork weighs the anchor everyday to make a short route toward Punta della Dogana.

Joana Vascolcelos, "Trafaria Praia", 2013
Ceramic Azulejos tiles hand painted

Collateral events

For who have an interest in nature, I recommend the collateral event Rapsody in Green with artworks by Chinese artists, among which the incredibly detailed paintings by Huang Ming-Chang.

Huang Ming-Chang, "Paddy in Autumn" and a detail, 1994
Oil on canvas, 140 x 202 cm

 Kao Tsan-Hsing
"Green Box", 2004
  Painted iron and steel wool, 150 x 50 x 40 cm

Kao Tsan-Hsing
"Destiny of the Green Grass", 2004
Painted iron and steel wool, 207 x 103 x 20 cm

The Internet Pavilion The Unconnected, that have reached its third edition, is not effectively a national participation and it is not even present any more among the collateral or official events of the Biennale, thus it has been "downgraded" to self-managed event, but on the other hand it is sited on an venue easier to find and reachable afoot, in Dorsoduro.
Expecting a totally virtual and immaterial exhibition, it is surprising that it has been dedicated instead to people not connected to the internet and that the shown artworks are basically paintings or related to painting; it is yearning the video on smartphone where it is simulated the painting of the framed scene or person. The same venue is materially decadent and romantic.
This U-turn toward physical seems to be produced by an identity crisis typical of the telematic means and the result of a dichotomy of who is hanging the balance between the flight into the unknown of the change and the safety in the solid land of tradition.
I do not consider internet a place or a territory of belonging, but just a means of knowledge and also of expression; perhaps it is also this misconception that can have determined this afterthought of the technophile initiative; a bit like to organise an exhibition of just spatula painting; personally I have a more traditional vision of Pavilion, in the way of territorial belonging.
Anyway this weakness seemed prophetically already written in the artworks of Miltos Manetas himself (the inventor and Guru of the Internet Pavilion and protagonist of this edition), so tied to the physical reality; in particular, the oil painting "Sad Tree" of 1995, with three cypresses of which the third one is bent downward, just like this edition.
Nice the excellent and in-depth free catalogue, where thou there is a long and pompous description of a Münchausen-like travel that Manetas did around the world to meet personages more or less influential, from Los Angeles to the desert of Sinai and with a mystic final: very interesting, but at the same time it seems like an excusatio non petita to justify the actual edition.

Miltos Manetas, untitled (The Unconnected), 2013
Oil on canvas, 300 x 600 cm

Miltos Manetas, "Looking at the Blackberry", 2013, oil on canvas, 200 x 300 cm

Miltos Manetas
Painting Enrico Ghezzi on the Blackberry, 2013

Another collateral event not to be missed is Lost in Translation, a large exhibition of Russian artists focusing on the interpretation of artworks hard to understand for their strict correlation to the context where they were created. The excellent captions describing all the artworks permit an in-deep reading and a reconstruction of the interesting Russian artistic sphere from 70s up today.

Vitaly Komar, "The Perfect Slogan", 1974-1984
Oil on cardboard, 75 x 300 cm

Elena Elagina, "Magum Opus Laboratory", 1996, installation, paper, watercolour, ink, fountain pen, pencil, plywood, encaustic, paperboard, wood, metal, stamp, bone, glass, plastic
Alena Tereshko
"Girl from the Urals", 2012
Single channel video, 9'05"

Vladimir Logutov
"Structured Space", 2012, single channel video

Aleksandr Kossolapov, "Malevich - Marlboro", 1997, acrylic on canvas, 122 x 108 cm

Oleg Kulik, "Tolstoy and Hens", 2004
Wax, fabric, wood, glass, stuffed hens, oil
270 x 200 x 150 cm

Semen Faybisovich, "Bundle under Pine-Trees. Double Session", 2001
Three channels videoinstallation

Vladimir Dubossarsky and Aleksandr Vinogradov, "Golden Fish", 1994, Oil on canvas, 200 x 350 cm

Sergey Bratkov, "Slogan", 2010, digital print, neon, 180 x 635 cm


As already written in the preface, I consider this Biennale an epiphanic dawn of the esoteric occultism, a revealing of an ancient and neglect metaphysical mysticism dense of iconographic topics and symbols typical of the masonic, cabalistic, alchemical-scientific and satanic cults belonging also to the so called Illuminati, or the tradition of Promethus or Lucifer, the bringer of light (of knowledge) stolen to another god.

Anyway, I find this epiphany a wan self-commiseration: right the ones who would represent the opposing force of rebellion against a god father and master show, as in any religion, that romantic languor of decadent self-celebration, of contemplation of the Self and of the splendid or luckless times.

At the end it is all a bailamme where all is mixed up: the metaphysical and humanist Illuministic mysticism to the deadly, sadistic and nihilistic cultist deviations.
Surely, if this exhibition wants to be the summary of that world, then it has been an excellent opportunity to observe its all-embracing panorama that maybe could never be seen in a so encyclopaedic way; but it could leave many people even more confused on what are the intents of magic esoterism or the self-determination of Man, if there is a doctrine for one's own spiritual evolution or if, as I affirm, the doctrines represent the error, the immanent imperfection from where to start to follow philosophically the perfection.

Surely, the divergence between who believes on a heavenly vision of earthly life (in the natural configuration of life to be preserved as it has been given) and who believes on an existence aimed to the evolution toward infinite possibilities (in the voluntary break of natural limits), you can evince how much is unite anyway this mankind that enters into the discussion on where to go; as if the change would be possible only all unite.

At last, I wonder what would say, or he have said, Philippe Daverio about this Biennale, considering that there is an ample argumentation on initiation themes, topics that the critic has often dealt with.
Daverio was rather sarcastic in saying his opinion on the previous edition curated by Bice Curiger, defining it a feast of folk entertainment, and also this one follows more or less the same trite scheme with the play room, the witches room, the dark room, the wonder room.
Indeed, Daverio has always somehow criticised the Biennale di Venezia, and after all I too agree that Art must not be entertainment and that a Biennale like the Venice one should rather be simply a convention for artists, a forge where to create thinking.

Going to more materialist aspects, the admission ticket price this year has lifted to €25 for Giardini and Arsenale, and to €80 for the permanent pass: too high.
Furthermore, since the Biennale has the subsidy of the State, it would be good if Italian citizens would get at least a discount, or even free admission, in the bargain nowadays art culture of Italian people is often non-existent.

Not to be missed: Irish Pavilion The Enclave by Richard Mosse - Fondaco Marcello, San Marco 3415

Jizaino -