EX: 1/30/2012
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2013.06.20 Thu, by Translated by: 顾灵
Notes and Quotes and Pics and Bits from Venice

Sitting on a bench
Bearded Film Director: Stop saying I’m obsessed with conspiracy theories! It’s just plain evident that it’s only because of pressure from four of the five new collectors from Angola that the pavilion won the Golden Lion.

On a very full vaporetto
Olive Oil Producer-Turned-Auctioneer: I just went to the Angola Pavilion. I’m not sure, I think I don’t get it; it’s like a tribute to Felix Gonzales-Torres, and then I see people who compulsively steal all these cheaply made printouts, none even glancing at the marvelous frescoes all around them in the palace. It must be a comment on consumerism of the image, on capitalism and private property. It must be — but I’m not sure I get it.

On a vaporetto
Girolamo Marri: So, you saw the Angola Pavilion? I’m guessing you liked it ’cause most people said it was horrible.
Female Half of the Overcritical Artist Couple: Actually. it was excellent, in its genre.
Girolamo Marri: What genre?
Male Half of the Overcritical Artist Couple: The pick-stuff-from-a-pile genre.

On a serendipitous encounter at a restaurant where Flamboyant Artist is about to order pizza with his fiancé.
Girolamo Marri: What do you think of Ali Kazma’s videos at the Turkish Pavilion? Not bad huh?
Flamboyant Artist: Not sure; very well shot and pleasing images, but that five-projection installation was very nineties….
Girolamo Marri: (laughing) I love how you can make such a knowing comment as “that video is so nineties”!
Flamboyant Artist: Actually I’m just repeating what Hyperactive Museum Director said.

On a vaporetto going towards the Giardini, passing in front of a huge Marc Quinn sculpture of a female torso, placed in front of a church.
German tourist: What is that?
Venetian: I have no idea
German Tourist: Is it going to stay there forever?
Venetian: Fingers crossed, no.

Marc Quinn’s inflatable sculpture “Breath”.

On the day the winners are announced, I stumble upon the celebratory drinks for the combined Lithuanian and Cyprus Pavilions, which won a special mention from the jury (I’m guessing for being also such a pleasantly non-clean, punk pavilion). I am introduced to and congratulate the curator, Raimundas Malasauskas, who’s wearing a fantastic plasticky hoodie with a print of some psychedelic tropical seascape. Flamboyant Artist points out that the reflection of the palm tree in the water is not chromatically accurate.

View of the Lithuania and Cyprus Pavilion, which won a Special Mention by the jury, during a live performance.

Tino Sehgal’s performance in The Encyclpedic Palace show of people turning into crawling human beatboxes, won him the Golden Lion as Best Artist of the Biennale.

Sitting on a bench
Girolamo Marri: I am quite happy Tino Sehgal won the lion.
Bearded Film Director: What are you talking about? That was the shittiest piece by an artist who only does shit pieces.

Very Polite Assistant at the Hong Kong Pavilion: It’s a shame you couldn’t make it last night to the Pavilion dinner. It was really beautiful! They rented out the whole square of the Rialto fish market and turned it into an open air restaurant where we ate fresh daily catch. It was a little chilly really, but we were all given white blankets to wear on our shoulders and legs. Lee Kit made a selection of 80s music; it looked like a performance.

If you like Berlinde de Bruyckere, you should go and see the Belgian Pavilion, ’cause it’s really Berlinde de Bruyckere.

While I’m drinking a spritz with Ginger-headed Curator at the end of the canal in Via Garibaldi
Old Miami-Based Cuban Artist: I’ll take a picture of you two if you want. Actually of her alone, ’cause you are too ugly.
…I overheard what you were talking about, ’cause we Cubans are so smart and attentive that we can listen to all conversations around us at once.
You should really go and see the Cuban Pavilion at the Archeological Museum; it’s really good — the best.

Having morning coffee in the living room at Giudecca
Girolamo Marri: You actually gave marks to what you saw? And how did you rate the Italian Pavilion?
Male Half of the Overcritical Artist Couple: We gave it 2 out of 10.
Girolamo Marri: What? That’s ridiculous! For once I was not embarrassed to be Italian! Christ, it was much better than the last time, and the time before!
Female Half of the Overcritical Artist Couple: You’re right, we rated it as much worse the other times.

People watching a documentary video on “Straight” the work presented by Ai Weiwei in Zuecca project Space in Venice

The Chinese Pavilion is awful. If one wants to show off on technology, it needs to be done properly at least. The very compelling images by Wang Qingsong were completely ruined by the strange hues cast by the light boxes they were in; the projection screens in the room on the right all looked slightly mismatched, and the lighting of the works of the whole place was inconsistent. It really reminded me of those times when it made a lot of sense to say that in China quantity matters, and quality doesn’t.

I much preferred visiting the collateral show “Noise,” which I guess was produced with a fraction of the budget. In it, technology was not a tool to impress, but rather the object of speculation and critique. And I loved the way they were parasite-izing the Prada Foundation show, which opened just next door.

Having said this about the Chinese Pavilion, I want to thank them for having me at their dinner at the Danieli, which was delicious; I especially enjoyed the potato purée with vegetable pearls and sea bream — a real delicacy.

Hyperactive Museum Director posts on Facebook at 8 am something along the lines of “Let’s meet at 10 am today in Piazza San Marco to protest against the repression happening in Turkey right now!”

I feel instantly sympathetic and press “like”. Then, full of good intentions, I fall asleep again.

An inspector on the vaporetto walks around checking tickets. Artist Loca and I are forced to jump off way before our stop, while the Overcritical Artist Couple, who for some reason have tickets, giggle.

The main show, The Encyclopedic Palace, is fantastic. I will not restrain myself. I am probably among those who loved it the most. I spent about four hours in the Arsenale section and another five in the Giardini, and I intend to go back after the summer. It really is an encyclopedic show, where, while you see some really good contemporary art, you are also reminded of the drive which pushes individuals as well as communities to try to interpret the world around them and their existence at large. It is a truly contemporary museum, where links between different items on display are loose and the pace is fast — like a search on the web — and intuition has exactly the same weight as logic.

We are picked up at Lido by a special shuttle bus to go to the Danish party in the old airport. The place is lovely, with its 1930s architecture and late-Futurist canvases hung high on the walls. The crowd is outside facing the stage where Peaches is performing half naked. Although the absurd demand of the Danes that I pay for my drinks slightly upsets me – Christ, I’m here to work, not for fun! — I’m in such good company and the music is so mesmerizing that I dance happily for a long time, lost in memories of when ten years ago I saw Peaches screaming and dancing and spitting fake blood on the audience in a club in Rome, and I was with a very beautiful and drunk friend and I thought I would hit the jackpot by suggesting that she, Peaches and myself have a threesome, which clearly didn’t happen in the end.

I leave the Welsh pavilion party, where predictably I drank a lot of beer, following this beautiful musician and her friends, theoretically on our way to the Irish Pavilion party where we predict more drinking. It’s raining and I’m carrying the girl’s guitar pretending to be a gentleman but hating myself, for the thing is astoundingly heavy. Soon I realize these people are never going to get to the other party, and I leave them, hoping to make it to my friends at the other party by myself. It’s not going to be easy; I don’t have the address, my phone is out of battery (a common issue in Venice I found), I’m not sober and I was not blessed at birth with any sense of direction. I find myself in many a dead end, including one in front of a canal, where I try to quietly rid myself of some liquids and instead, damn this city with no cars, I cause the roar of a waterfall. It’s only after a very long time that I follow the right trail of drunkards and land at the Irish party where I can have a toast with my friends. All’s well that ends well!

Difficult to judge the French Pavilion. I spent there half an hour in sheer pleasure, listening to the combined executions of a Ravel symphony by two different pianists in a room built for perfect acoustics for a cost of, I presume, no less than 100,000 Euros. It was amazing, but I’m not 100% sure this is why I go to an art show.

2 frames from Anri Sala’s videos at the French Pavilion.

Viewer at the Swiss Pavilion

Outside the Swiss Pavilion, where I’m thankful as I’m fueled with Prosecco, I meet a Swiss girl I have not seen in a long time.

Girolamo Marri: What did you think was good about this pavilion?
Swiss Girl I Had Not Seen in a Long Time: The fact that it’s in a very beautiful building.

Olive Oil Producer-Turned-Auctioneer: Go and see the Tapies show at Palazzo Fortuni; Tapies is great and the building is fantastic.

Girolamo Marri: I am a serious fan of yours and I’m so happy tonight that I’m going to eat food cooked by you, but please let me also have an answer to this question that I have always wanted to ask you. How do I actually pronounce your surname?
Artist Rirkrit Tiravanija Sipping on a Glass of Wine: Tiravanit
Girolamo Marri: Really? I would have never guessed! That’s incredible! Thai people have the most complicated names.

At a party in the Gervasuti Foundation
I Don’t Remember Who: Hey, see that old guy behind you with a black hat? That’s Joseph Kosuth.
Girolamo Marri: Really? The conceptual artist? Wow, maybe I should talk to him, he must be quite an intense character!
I Don’t Remember Who: Apparently he just went upstairs and pissed in the sink.

Hip Gallerist from London: The only thing I really liked of the Encyclopedic Palace show was the juxtaposition of the very messy and overwhelming work of Ryan Trecartin with the cleanliness and calm of Wade Guyton next door….

Temperamental Art Director: The Trussardi party was by far the best; they had amazing DJs and Jarvis Cocker played too. There were endless drinks, it lasted all night and at some stage my Renowned British Artist boyfriend asked me to follow him to what I presumed would be drug consumption, and instead he asked me to marry him.