Arts The Best Art Show. Ever. (Part VI)
posted by September 25 at 15:53 PMon
This is the end of it. The last of the great rooms. For those just tuning in, check out the first four parts of the terrific Venetian exhibition Artempo here, here, here, here, and here. This final segment may as well be called The Apotheosis.
This is the top floor of Palazzo Fortuny, a place flooded with light where the frescoes are peeling off the walls. After the proliferation of bodies and faces from all eras and styles on the first two floors, and after being drawn inside a cabinet of curiosities only to be deposited into chapel-like white-cube rooms on the third level, you’ve climbed the stairs and arrived at a synthesis of it all, filtered through the undeniable feelings of destruction and loss that pervade this living exhibition set inside an eccentric, aged palazzo whose most famous tenant is long dead. His library is even open to the viewer, visible through glass, at a titillating and theatrical distance. (It’s “as if the master just got up from his worktable,” Frye curator Robin Held says.)
Pictured above is an area near the entrance, where Peter Buggenhout’s raw, ruin-like table sculpture The Blind Leading the Blind #11 (2007) sits near a video projected (slyly) on a closed door. (Or was it merely the contour of a once-present door left on the wall? In these rooms, it was often difficult to discern the faded shapes and shadows on the walls
from present art or architectural moments.) In the video (again, above the above photo), the only motion is the sun streaming in an open window, riding the dust. The piece is called Here Comes the Sun (2000), by Sabrina Mezzaqui.
On one end of the long room is another “curiosity cabinet,” this time of televisions. Several TVs pushed together show various black and white videos at the same time, including Fischli & Weiss’s 1987 extreme-dominoes classic The Way Things Go, Richard Serra’s Hands Scraping from 1968, Gordon Matta-Clark’s Conical Intersect, and various Gutai painting performances (including, if I’m remembering correctly, Kazuo Shiraga’s seminal 1955 Challenge to the Mud, in which the artist rolled around half naked in mud). (Gutai painting is a Japanese relative of American abstract-expressionist action painting, but in Gutai painting, the process of making is more important than the product.)
Paired with these throughout the room are collapsed ceramic pots by Shiro Tsujimura, slashed canvases by Lucio Fontana, Guenther Uecker’s chair with a seat covered in nails, Gotthard Graubner’s now-dirty 1970 “pillow” paintings, a little wall box imprisoning a drawing of signatures by Robert Rauschenberg and Uecker, Cai Guo-Qiang’s fireworks drawings,
a spare 18th-century visual poem for a tea ceremony,
cracked and burned paintings by Alberto Burri and Yves Klein, and even an accidentally burned painting by a 16th-century disciple of Tintoretto (seen below).
It’s hard to leave.
This building feels like one of the few places in the world where time is invited to run at all of its various speeds at once. Loss is contained, accepted, present: presence. I told you it was magic.