In my Biennale post, I completely forgot to mention my favorite piece of all, Christian Marclay’s The Clock, because, quite frankly, it’s impossible to describe.
That Venice is sinking is well documented, so when I arrived I half expected to see entire building facades sliding into the sea and those famous bridges warping through the slow but debilitating erosion process. What I found was a vibrant city where commerce is still king (much as it had been at its apex of power centuries ago.) No doubt this is from the overly thriving tourist trade (a population of 60,000 serves roughly 10 million visitors a year!) but you do what you can to survive and prosper. Take the gentlemen above, delivering water and Sprite to the hotels, restaurants, and ultimately the masses, a common site on the canals each morning.
Until Tuesday of this week, the Venice Biennale was only something I had read about in Vanity Fair and even then I only understood it to be some sort of big art event where a lot of glamorous folk attend (given the intersection with the Venice Film Festival), staged only every two years. When it was suggested we make the trip I got very excited to do something I never even considered doing! I like art! Glamour too! Let’s roll!!
Yesterday we made the game day decision to hop in the car and head east to Venice, only a 3 hour drive (another great aspect of northern Italy/southern Switzerland – proximity!). The purpose of our last minute excursion was to survey the current Biennale and the periphery exhibitions, such as the Prada Collection. The Prada family has been collecting contemporary art since the ’60s (best exemplified by the above early Donald Judd Conceptual masterpiece) and they’ve installed this temporary show in a magnificent palazzo while they finalize plans for a permanent home in Milan, as designed by Miuccia Prada”s little buddy Rem Koolhaus.
I always get sheepish about going to a tourist area while traveling, as if there’s some shame in hanging out with hordes of people in Tevas, cargo shorts and open maps. So it was my horror to asked to be dropped at Piazza Navona, scene of thousands above mentioned crimes daily but hell, it was the closest landmark I could pronounce that would get me to my dinner reservation.
When in Rome, you best get your churchin’ “straight from the tap” (Jeff Mirek c. 2011), so since my visit covered a Sunday, off to Mass I went.
That line from “Gladiator” never gets old and I swear I think I heard Russell Crowe echoing in my ear as I entered the city and was wowed by this sight. Such ancient beauty juxtaposed against the mundane, in this case a routine airport pick-up. And that is the essence of Rome, the sublime meets everyday modern life.