Post #555 • June 10, 2005, 12:58 PM • 82 Comments
I've decided to break up the upgrade phase so we have two smaller outages rather than one big one, and get in a roundup in the process. Phase one is going rather nicely, although June officially became Ramen Month.
So yes indeed, Dorsch is having an opening Saturday night showing the works of Chris Meesey, Robin Griffiths, and Javier Sasieta in three separate exhibitions. Meesey is one of the organizers (along with Jordan Massengale) of Esperanto, which will show at the old Objex space (203 NW 36 St.) on Saturday; yours truly will have a new piece up. Go Chris!
In the news, Jonathan Jones is my people. (I nominate this story's headline for Headline of the Year: short, brutal, and very clever.)
So I was afraid to go to the Venice Biennale because, quite frankly, I couldn't understand the rationale for having it in Venice. Why not Milan, or Turin? In a modern city I want to see modern art. In New York I want Marcel Duchamp. In Venice I want Titian. There was something weird about the idea of going to Venice and cutting yourself off contemptuously from the tourists traipsing after their Tintorettos to see, instead ... well, this year, the latest photomontages by Gilbert and George. Now, let's think. Tintoretto or G+G? If you find the decision difficult, you need some serious help.
I had a nearly identical impulse when, stranded in Italy shortly after 9/11 (Venice is an excellent choice of location in which to become a refugee, by the way), I had to make a decision between going to see the 2001 Biennale or the Balthus retrospective at the Palazzo Grassi. I opted for the latter and had a life-altering experience looking at art. People I knew back in Miami who had seen the Biennale didn't report any kind of commensurate revelations. My patience for contemporary art dies in Venice, because I also want Titian, and Bellini, and Veronese. (I've never been much of a fan on Tintoretto.)
I suppose the reply would be that it's seductive fun, all this superficiality - lighten up. That would be true if the art was sexy or stylish or interesting. But to me Venice seems a very serious context, where artists invite comparison with genius. Almost everything withers. Chris Ofili, the last occupant of the British Pavilion, wilted. What do you want me to say - that he's better than Bellini? And if he's not to be compared, what's the point?
Can I get an Amen? Let's not lighten up - let's keep working the heavy bag and see what we can knock down.