Venice: Arsenale - 55th International Art Biennale - The Encyclopedic Palace. The title chosen by curator Massimiliano Gioni for the 55th International Art Biennale, until November 24, is The Encyclopedic Palace. Massimiliano Gioni introduced the choice of theme evoking the Italo-American self-taught artist Marino Auriti who in 1955 filed a design with the US Patent office depicting The Encyclopedic Palace, an imaginary museum that was meant to house all worldly knowledge, bringing together the greatest discoveries of the human race, from the wheel to the satellite. Auriti’s plan was never carried out, of course, but the dream of universal, all-embracing knowledge crops up throughout history, as one that eccentrics like, Auriti share with many other artists, writers, scientists, and prophets who have tried, often in vain, to fashion an image of the world that will capture its infinite variety and richness. With works spanning over the past century alongside several new commissions, and with over one hundred and fifty artists from more than thirty-eight countries, the exhibition is structured like a temporary museum that initiates an inquiry into the many ways in which images have been used to organize knowledge and shape our experience. Blurring the line between professional artists and amateurs, outsiders and insiders, the exhibition takes an anthropological approach to the study of images, focusing in particular on the realms of the imaginary and the functions of the imagination. What room is left for internal images - for dreams, hallucinations and visions - in an era besieged by external ones? And what is the point of creating an image of the world when the world itself has become increasingly like an image?
Above: Marino Auriti – Encyclopedic Palace of the World, ca. 1950s, wood, plastic, glass, metal, hair combs, model kit parts.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. In the redesigned spaces of the Arsenale, by Annabelle Selldorf, the exhibition sketches a progression from natural forms, to studies of the human body, to the artifice of the digital age, loosely following the typical layout of sixteenth and seventeenth century cabinets of curiosities. In these eclectic microcosms, natural artifacts and marvels were combined to compose new images of the universe through a process of associative thinking that resembles today’s culture of hyper-connectivity.
Above: Detail - Marino Auriti – Encyclopedic Palace of the World, ca. 1950s.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, photograph, gelatin silver prints.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. Special Mention by the jury for Roberto Cuoghi for the significant and compelling contribution to the International Exhibition.
Above: Roberto Cuoghi, Belinda, 2013.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. Silver Lion for a promising young artist in the International Exhibition The Encyclopedic Palace to Camille Henrot for contributing a new work that in a sensuous and dynamic manner is able to capture our times.
Above: Camille Henrot, a still photo of Grosse Fatigue, 2013, video installation (color, sound), production: Silex Films.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. “In the drawings of Stefan Bertalan, Lin Xue and Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, we find stubborn attempts to decipher the code of nature, while the films of Gusmão and Paiva, and photographs of Christopher Williams, Eliot Porter, and Eduard Spelterini, examine ecosystems and landscapes with an gaze that longs to capture all the Earth’s spectacles, large and small.”
Above: Patrick Van Caeckenbergh Drawrings of Old Trees.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. Phyllida Barlow, Untitled: Hanginglump, 2012, polystyrene, wirenetting, polyurethane expanding foam, fabric, bonding, plaster, paint, sand.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. Danh Ho, Hoang Ly Church, Thai Binh Province, Vietnam, 2013, wood, steel, stone.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. The curator Massimiliano Gioni conducts a tour and is explaining the Stretcher for the Caravaggio painting Nativita con I Santi Lorenzo e Francesco d’Assisi, stolen in 1969, wood.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. “The aspiration to create a magnum opus that, like Auriti's Palace, can contain and describe everything, also flows through R. Crumb’s visual chronicle of the book of Genesis, Frederic Bruly Bouabre’s cosmogonies, and the legends recounted by Papa Ibra Tall. Camille Henrot’s recent video studies the creation myths of different societies, while the nearly two hundred clay sculptures of Fischli and Weiss offer a wry antidote to the romantic excesses of such sweeping visions of human history.”
Above: R. Crumb, The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb, 2009, pen and ink on paper.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. Shinichi Sawada, Untititled terracotta statues.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. Arthur Bispo do Rosario, sculptures, mixed media.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. Rosella Biscotti, I dreamt that you changed into a cat…gatto… ha ha ha, 2013, installation of sculptures made in compost at the dream workshop conducted by Rosella Biscotti and Daria Carmi inside the Giudecca women’s prison in Venice January 5 - May 23, 2013.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. Matt Mullican, Untitled (Learning from that Person’s Work, 2005, collage on paper, on cotton sheets, 12 parts.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. Michael Schmidt, Untitled works from the series Lebensmittel (Food), 2006-10, C-prints.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. "At the center of the Arsenale, is a curatorial project by Cindy Sherman, an imaginary museum of her own devising in which dolls, puppets, mannequins, and idols cohabit with photos, paintings, sculptures, votive offerings, and drawings by prison inmates, composing an anatomical theater in which to contemplate the role of images in the representation and perception of the self. The word “image” is linked, by its very etymology, to the body and its mortality: the Latin imago referred to the wax mask the Romans made to preserve the likeness of the recently deceased."
Above: Charles Ray, Fall ’91, 1992, mixed media.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. Jimmie Durham, Jesus. Es geht um die Wurst, 1992, wood, iron, steel, ink, paper, acrylic, mud glue.
Arsenale: The En cyclopedic Palace. Hans Scharer, Madonna, oil and mixed media on panel.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. “Ryan Trecartin’s volatile, post-human bodies introduce the final section of the Arsenale, where works by Yuri Ancarani, Alice Channer, Simon Denny, Wade Guyton, Channa Horwitz, Mark Leckey, Helen Marten, Albert Oehlen, Otto Piene, James Richards, Pamela Rosenkranz, Stan VanDerBeek and others examine the blend of information, spectacle, and knowledge that is characteristic of the digital era.”
Above: Wade Guyton, Untitled, 2011, Epson UltraChrome K 3 inkjet on linen.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. "As a contrast to the white noise of the information age, an installation by Walter De Maria celebrates the mute, gelid purity of geometry. Like all works by this legendary artist, this abstract sculpture is the result of complex numerological calculations, a self-contained system in which the endless possibilities of the imagination are reduced to an extreme synthesis."
Above: Walter de Maria, Apollo’s Ecstasy, 1990, 20 solid bronze rods.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. Paulo Nazareth, Santos de Minh Mae (My Mother’s saints), 2013, mixed media installation.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. "Among the exhibition’s outdoor installations and performances (which include John Bock, Ragnar Kjartansson, Marco Paolini, Erik van Lieshout, and others, extending to the Giardino delle Vergini at the very end of the Arsenale) are works that build on and transform the sixteenth-century Venetian tradition of the Theatres of the World, visual allegories of the cosmos in which actors and temporary architectures composed miniature representations of the universe." Gioni writes.
Above: Marco Paolini, Fen, Iron, wood, hay, words, realized with Roberto Abbiati.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. Ragnar Kjartansson’s outdoor musical performance on the S.S. Hangover.
Arsenale: The Encyclopedic Palace. “Through these pieces and many other works on view, The Encyclopedic Palace emerges as an elaborate but fragile construction, a mental architecture as fantastical as it is delirious. After all, the biennial model itself is based on the impossible desire to concentrate the infinite worlds of contemporary art in a single place: a task that now seems as dizzyingly absurd as Auriti’s dream.” Massimiliano Gioni.