The Venice Biennale: Main Course

On Friday we enjoyed the first courses at the Venice Biennale. Now onto the main course.

The secondi is presented in the Arsenale, the main venue of the Biennale exhibition. The building spaciously accommodates the 100 or so artists whose work responds to this year’s theme. Several artists opted to create large, multi-sensory installations incorporating sound and video that engage all of a viewer's senses and emotions.

In two environmentally conscious works, Ghanaian El Anatsui has created large, hanging tapestries made of recycled bottle caps, metal tags and packaging materials. Emily Prince’s drawings of fallen soldiers puts an intimate and human face on the conflicts facing American troops. Christine Hill’s “Volksboutique Trunk Show" illustrates self-identification through personal possessions (above).

For the dolci, or dessert course, there is Venice itself. Resplendent in reds and golds, and made brilliant by the water’s reflections, Venice is a feast for the senses even if the Biennale is not your cup of tea. St. Mark’s and its pigeons offer intrigue and history, as does the Doge’s Palace, with its infamous Bridge of Sighs.

Visit the “glass" and “lace" islands of Murano and Burano for beautiful artisanal shopping. Ride Vaporetto #1 (the slower waterbus cruise) up and down the Grand Canal for a rail-side view of the beautiful palazzos. The city is a maze of piazzas and passageways that lend themselves to curious wandering, best accompanied by dessert in the literal sense--a double serving of gelato.

The Biennale runs until November, and is part of the 2007 art celebration in Europe that includes documenta 12 in Kassel, Germany, and Sculpture Projects in Munster, Germany.

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