The LB 55th Venice Biennale Guide: This old gal's got edge.

At the 54th Biennale, 2011, it was the Giardini (which houses the official international pavilions) that stole the show at the world’s oldest, most decadent Biennale. However, this year we were completely bowled over by what was going on outside the main exhibitions. And no, this is not us tirelessly sticking with the ‘outsider’ theme, it’s because there was some crash hot shit. 

Pictures Jackson D. Ferguson
Above - Just a typical Bienalle party

Mark Quinn (Island of San Giorgio Maggiore)

Snow white sculptures of deformed foetuses, disfigured humans and Iraqi torture victims stood alongside solid gold statues of the London rioters. This exhibition showcased the world’s many outcasts in an aesthetically alluring light:

We talked to Jay Jopling at the opening party and he told us that amongst all this was also the fifth edition of the artist’s infamous blood face - a moulded life-size self portrait composed from Quinn’s own blood. We then got this charming snap of Mr Quinn’s parents posing proudly next to their son’s mug. If you get over to the exhibition then you should check this collateral show out on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore.
Right - Mark Quinn Riot Rug

Al Wei Wei - S.A.C.R.E.D (Saint’Antonin church)

You may have already read about this as we blogged away from Venice. Haunting new stuff was unveiled at the Saint’Antonin church, depicting Al Wei Wei’s time of incarceration, using hyper-realist models of himself and his captors. The notorious activist artist’s latest work is comprised of six parts: (i) S upper, (ii) A ccusers, (iii) C leansing, (iv) R itual, (v) E ntropy (vi) D oubt. Al Wei Wei, who has recently launched a heavy metal video, was not able to attend the opening as he is forbidden by authorities to leave Beijing. However, his mother, who was present burst into tears when she saw the installations.

British Pavilion (Giardini)

 Jeremy Deller’s pavilion begins with a mural of a giant hen harrier clutching a Range Rover in its talons. It then goes on to explore Britain's role in recent wars, with a room of drawings by inmates of high secure prisons of figures such as Tony Blair - nice touch of irony there! Flags emblazoned with the words ‘Prince Harry kills me’ were initially going to be part of the pavilion but were removed after a meeting between the artist and the Arts Council. 

Below - La Bouche on Peggy Guggenheim's roof at Biennale book launch

La Bouche on Peggy Guggenheim's roofMuseum of Everything (Just outside the Giardini main exhibition)

 Another fantastic collateral show - outsider art gurus ‘The Museum of Everything’ exhibited some fascinating artwork by shell-shocked solider Carlo Zinelli. Zinelli returned unable to speak, or recount in any way the horrors he had experienced. In hospital he began to paint the horrors of war on his bedroom walls. These include memories of the country-side, of wild animals and travelling circuses, illustrated alongside bulbous figures, dying soldiers, congregations of priests and dancing women. “It was as if the artist had found new life inside his own creations.” state the Museum of Everything. If you get over to Venice before August 18th (when the exhibition ends) do NOT miss this show.

Latvian Pavilion (Arsenalle)
Well, we just loved this upside down swinging tree. It’s hard to really capture this piece in pictures, so we’ll go with words. I think it all came down to the power and sublimity of the tree - and how meek we really are compared to this great plant as humans. In its usual upright rooted form, we can forget this but thrashing back and forth like a great, almost godly pendulum, we stood humbled.

Korean Pavilion

The Korean’s do it again. A beautiful Zen pavilion. Artist Kimsooja wrapped the building in a film that served to diffract the light creating a room full of rainbows The artist invites the viewer to meditate amongst the colourful beams, although we couldn’t help but note this was widely re-interpreted as ‘posing and posting.’

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