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18 June 2007

Venice Biennial, Part II

Just a few more notes in passing about the Venice pavilions. I know this is a photo-centric blog, but Venice has so much great non-photo art, it's hard not to mention a few highlights.

The Korean Pavilion had the work of artist Hyungkoo Lee.Mr. Lee imagines a world where we have invested so much into the characters in our cartoon, animatronic, and fantasy worlds, that they can actually become something corporeal. He has meticulously recreated skeletons of the likes of Tom and Jerry and presented them as some kind of fabulous blend of Hanna-Barbera and a natural history museum. The first pass is one of fun and humor, but of course deeper waters lie under the cartoon surface. This was a great show and an artist whom I want to see more of.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am no fan of large art for the sake of largeness. When it works, though, there is no denying its power. El Anatsui had just such a piece in the Arsenale section of the Biennial. He "wove" thousands upon thousands of bottle caps (and in another case, the metal wrappers from the tops of liquor bottles) into a tapestry that must have been thirty feet high and twenty feet across.From across a large room, the work seems to be spun of gold and precious fibers. It has a look of antiquity, like loot from faraway lands.But as you come closer, you realize the humble thread of this tapestry; it's the detritus of a consumer society writ large and gorgeous.I can't stop thinking about it.

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