Art Fag City at the L Magazine: The AFC European Tour

by Art Fag City on June 17, 2009 · 12 comments The L Magazine

art fag city, venice
The streets of Venice. Photo AFC

I write about the Venice Biennale and Art Basel for the L Magazine this week. The teaser below.

Am I an uncultured asshole for missing cars, consistent Internet access, and a navigable map? I feel like one, particularly because a giant wave of relief swept over me when I arrived in Basel for the art fairs — a city without the low-tech “charm” of Venice.

Between the Venice Biennale and the Art Basel fairs, I've seen more contemporary art at once than probably any other time in my life. This kind of sensory overload results in a desire to talk about anything other than contemporary art. But one can't be in Basel without participating in the discussion. And though I have done literally nothing else for days, I still have only one experience — my own — to relay.

Perhaps if I had seen a little more good work over past couple of weeks, I'd be more excited about the ensuing discussion. For all the talk of poor economies producing great new art, there's been surprisingly little to show for it. June 3rd marked the opening of the 53rd Venice Biennale, the biggest and most well-known survey of contemporary art — and this year, also the most lackluster. Of course, even the most cohesive curatorial practice can't bring into focus the current state of art making, but this one mostly tells us what we already know: inconsistency in all professional practice remains inevitable.

Comprised of two main attractions — individual pavilions mostly at the Giardini in which nations compete for the Golden Lion Prize, and a curated show at the Arsenale (and the Giardini) — attending the event is like going to an amusement park at the Olympics. Audience lines form outside many of the pavilions, and a couple of days after the show opens, the winner is announced.

To read the full piece click here.

  • http://www.unutterable.org Giovanni

    You’re not alone – many other critics also were disappointed with Venice – Jerry Saltz and Michael Kimmelman included.

    As far as the question of whether the recession makes for good art, I don’t think either of those venues would be where you would see that art. Much like the recession late 70s/early 80s and the post-crash 90s, that art is seen in artists’ studios, rickety storefronts that probably won’t remain open for long, and in shows in people’s living rooms.

  • http://www.unutterable.org Giovanni

    You’re not alone – many other critics also were disappointed with Venice – Jerry Saltz and Michael Kimmelman included.

    As far as the question of whether the recession makes for good art, I don’t think either of those venues would be where you would see that art. Much like the recession late 70s/early 80s and the post-crash 90s, that art is seen in artists’ studios, rickety storefronts that probably won’t remain open for long, and in shows in people’s living rooms.

  • Jim VanKirk

    “For all the talk of poor economies producing great new art, there’s been surprisingly little to show for it.” PJ

    And who, please tell me, would have been prescient enough to identify that new stuff in time to include it in these events. Give it time and do not commit too much to the now because things will be changing shortly.JVK

  • Jim VanKirk

    “For all the talk of poor economies producing great new art, there’s been surprisingly little to show for it.” PJ

    And who, please tell me, would have been prescient enough to identify that new stuff in time to include it in these events. Give it time and do not commit too much to the now because things will be changing shortly.JVK

  • http://neditpasmoncoeur.blogspot.com Leah Sandals

    I appreciate you being honest about your reactions, Paddy.

    I’m guessing that maybe the overwhelming part fades after a few visits, allowing one to notice other things? Art of otherwise? Maybe?

    I did find when I travelled earlier this year for a fair it was a real jolt to the system, made it hard to process much. It seems a very different time-space combo than going out to on one’s well-known gallery treks week to week.

  • http://neditpasmoncoeur.blogspot.com Leah Sandals

    I appreciate you being honest about your reactions, Paddy.

    I’m guessing that maybe the overwhelming part fades after a few visits, allowing one to notice other things? Art of otherwise? Maybe?

    I did find when I travelled earlier this year for a fair it was a real jolt to the system, made it hard to process much. It seems a very different time-space combo than going out to on one’s well-known gallery treks week to week.

  • Brad

    The curated show, “Making Worlds” (not Many Worlds) had major sites at both Giardini and Arsenale. Simon Starling, for example, was at the the former, while Paul Chan was at the latter. In addition to the national pavilions at Giardini, there were also several at Arsenale (the UAE and Turkish pavilions, for instance) and throughout the city.

  • Brad

    The curated show, “Making Worlds” (not Many Worlds) had major sites at both Giardini and Arsenale. Simon Starling, for example, was at the the former, while Paul Chan was at the latter. In addition to the national pavilions at Giardini, there were also several at Arsenale (the UAE and Turkish pavilions, for instance) and throughout the city.

  • Art Fag City

    This is true (I will correct the text to indicate this). And actually, Making Worlds in the Biennale building in the Giardini was excellent. But that’s another post.

  • Art Fag City

    This is true (I will correct the text to indicate this). And actually, Making Worlds in the Biennale building in the Giardini was excellent. But that’s another post.

  • Jeff Taylor

    “Between the Venice Biennale and the Art Basel fairs, I’ve seen more contemporary art at once than probably any other time in my life. This kind of sensory overload results in a desire to talk about anything other than contemporary art.”

    I also appreciate your honest reaction to Biennale but I think you’ve missed some of the magic of Venice as a setting for contemporary art. Venice has the evolution of painting within walking distance… Bellini-Giorgione-Titian-Cannelleto-Ernst-Pollack-Biennale.

  • Jeff Taylor

    “Between the Venice Biennale and the Art Basel fairs, I’ve seen more contemporary art at once than probably any other time in my life. This kind of sensory overload results in a desire to talk about anything other than contemporary art.”

    I also appreciate your honest reaction to Biennale but I think you’ve missed some of the magic of Venice as a setting for contemporary art. Venice has the evolution of painting within walking distance… Bellini-Giorgione-Titian-Cannelleto-Ernst-Pollack-Biennale.

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