Nicholas Hlobo‘s massive Iimpundulu Zonke Ziyandilandela skull, more about rubber, viagra approved tyre, leather and ribbon installation was one of my favourite pieces at the Arsenale. This vast sculpture refers to South African myths and in particular the vampire bird of Xhosa folk songs. Spooky, enigmatic and affecting.
I also really liked the work of Mexican artist Mariana Castillo Deball. Having studied ancient Aztec manuscripts, she has reproduced her interpretation in the form of a long script, re-imagining their long lost meanings.
Fabian Marti has built a huge structure from boxes of plywood, stacked with curiously relaxed ceramic incense holders. Visitors enter a cave inside to witness a trance like video of the sun shining through trees in India. Sun Oh! was inspired by Brion Gysin‘s experimental hallucinations brought on by light flickering through trees.
We were all captivated by Urs Fischer‘s Untitled – a huge wax installation which has been slowly burning to the ground as the Biennale progresses. The decapitated head of a man lies on the floor at the foot of a disintegrating chair – a truly grotesque vision that is also curiously humorous.
Corinne Wasmuht paints huge pieces that straddle the worlds of reality and fiction. Her pixelated artwork Bibliotheque CDG BSL offers a dreamlike experience to viewers, who recognise in its blinding colours the brightness of a digital screen.
Josh Smith displays a huge collage of artwork that would not look out of place pasted on to a wall on a side street off Brick Lane.
Giulia Piscitelli‘s long skeins of iridescent silk, Spica (2011), are painted with bleach to create intricate bone like patterns. Beautiful – and perfect for a corporate environment.
Klara Liden has made an installation of garbage cans, which are hung against artfully peeling brick walls. By displaying the most banal of street furniture as art she aims to make viewers question their aesthetic tastes.
The final room of this section presents the work of Monica Bonvicini, who has been very vocal about what she thinks of the circus that is the Biennale and in fact the art world in general. She only agreed to be involved in this years show if she could make an installation that questioned the vacuousness of it all. Thus her huge room is dominated with a series of staircases to nowhere. Suitably powerful and dramatic.
Outside Loris Gréaud has planted a life size replica of a beached whale, which lies gasping on a pile of sand. The Geppetto Pavilion takes its name from the story of Pinocchio, who is swallowed by Monstro the whale. It is a strange and unlikely thing to encounter amongst the cranes and docks of the old Arsenale.
- A Review of ILLUMinations at the Arsenale, Venice Biennale 2011: part one
- A Trip to Venice with Swatch
- Venice Biennale: Come for a Ride
- Swatch Watches Over the Rainbow and Be Black, designed by artist Jean-Michel Othoniel
- Exhibition Review: A World of Glass – Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg at Camden Arts Centre