On reflection of my experience of living and working in Venice, this blog post is going to be about one of the many amazing and unique experiences I encountered in the city. I was there for the month of June, as part of the Professional Development Programme team for Scotland + Venice in the 2019 Biennale. I was an Exhibition Assistant for Charlotte Prodger’s commissioned single-channel video SaF05 situated at the Arsenale Docks. Scotland + Venice is funded by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland and this year it was curated by Linsey Young with Cove Park. Through reflecting on my experience of ‘Art Night in Venice’, I wish for this blog to inspire you to participate in events like these, whether you are interested in art or not.
‘Art Night in Venice’ is a festival that takes place in June every year and grants the opportunity for tourists, locals and participants of the Biennale to experience many of the art galleries, museums and performances in a totally new way. Not to mention, the exhibitions are entirely free. I began at the Gallerie dell’Academia where I was delighted to see the Baselitz Academy exhibition. Georg Baselitz’s figurative and expressive artworks highlight the ability for paintings to deceive the viewer, making us look at them in a different way (literally), as the figures are painted upside down. Following on from there, I crossed over the Ponte de Academia to the Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello di Venezia. I listened to a beautiful piano recital of Mendelssohn. There is something magical about listening to live music in Venice. Feeling enlightened by the performance I continued into another part of the building to find the Collateral Event, THE SPARK IS YOU: Parasol unit in Venice. Notions of dialogue, language and culture are conveyed through the work of nine Iranian artists, who all have grounding in classical Persian poetry. Situated in the Conservatorio di Musica, the music in the distance harmoniously interacts with the artwork, highlighting the conversations between music, art and their unity.
On the other side of Campo S. Stefano was Palazzo Loredan exhibiting Carlos Quintana which I quickly walked round. I found that the artwork was not for me. Furthermore, I was being distracted by the thought of the Luc Tuymans exhibition which was next on the agenda.
By then, the sun was setting, a warm glow illuminated buildings and the temperature was very pleasant, perfect for exploring the narrow streets of Venice. Having done some brief research I was eager to see La Pelle (The Skin) by Luc Tuyamns in the Palazzo Grassi. I was blown away. By both the sheer amount and the intensity of the paintings which deal with questions of our past and more recent history. The feature mosaic Schwarzheide, in the entrance hall, set the tone of the exhibition. To begin with it, looks just like just a forest, but is in fact based on a forest near a forced-labour camp from the war, with the lines referring to uniform. This creates a totally different emotional connection to it as you look from the floors above. By the time I made it to the second floor, the museum was dark and lights illuminated the paintings. The drama of the gallery space at night contributed to the experience of the exhibition as a whole.
Back out into the night of Venice, I impulsively joined a long queue out of the Palazzo Cavalli- Franchetti, without knowing what it was leading to. It ended up being Shaping The Future Exhibition which was inspiring. It was encouraging to see young people considering the importance of our planet and the changes that need to be made through clever and unique artwork.
By now it was into the depth of the night, and I felt it was time to start making my way back to our accommodation. Getting lost (a usual occurance, I followed my instinct, which resulted in me coming across a Live Caravaggio Performance. I was mesmerised by the speed and accuracy of 6 students who changed outfits and poses recreating Caravaggio’s finest paintings. It seemed fitting that having explored the city though the dramatic darkness at night, I would finish by seeing a performance of the master of chiaroscuro.