Report from la Biennale di Veneza – Day 6


Several of the collateral events at the Venice Biennale made reference to Director Daniel Birnbaum’s wish to emphasize the process of creation. We will look at two very different approaches to this theme as our last online report from Venice.

This year’s artist from Mexico, Theresa Margolles’ installation entitled “What Else Could We Talk About?” is quite simply gut wrenching. She has collected materials such as blood, mud, broken windshield glass and spent gun shells from murder sites in Mexico, often victims of narcotraficante violence. These materials she processes in a number of ways to force the viewer to confront the trauma of the drug war carnage. Some are poetic, some disturbing.

Both inside and outside the decrepit Palazzo Rota Ivancich, the visitor is met with large blackish red flags (beyond the red and yellow flag of Venice in the photo), which text panels explain have been dyed with murder victims’ blood.

Teresa Margolles
Sangre Recuperada
Installation with blood, mud and water, cloth
dimensions variable.
Photo: Marjorie Och

Smaller cloths have been embroidered with phrases associated with drug gang graffiti, such as VER, OIR Y CALLAR (See, Hear, but be Silent).

Photo: Preston Thayer

One also notices mops and buckets in each room. The text explains that the floors are mopped each day with water containing mud and blood from murder sites. By the time you have got to this point, you feel you have waded through the blood of the over 5,000 people murdered in Mexico 2007. I am not sure if this is what Birnbaum was thinking of when he offered the theme, but it is a powerful example of “the processes of production.”

Photo: Marjorie Och

On a lighter note, as if often the case with Simon Starling’s contraptions, WILHELM NOACK oHG is a finely-machined device that feeds 35mm film through a projector. The film being projected is a four-minute B+W loop depicting the eponymous machine shop where the device was made, including scenes of its fabrication and views of a model spiral staircase that apparently served as the inspiration for the shape of the loop device. Thus Starling gives us an information loop that parallels the looping action of the device, and the film loop. The project is nothing but the process of production. And perfectly loopy.

Simon Starling
Wilhelm Noack oHG
Purpose built loop machine, 35 mm film projector, 35 mm b/w film with
sound, 4 min, 407 x ¿ 192 cm, projected dimensions variable.
Photo: Marjorie Och

It has been great fun to share a few of our favorite artworks from this year’s Venice Biennale over the past few days. In a couple of weeks, we’ll offer a wider-ranging critique of the entire event, and give some “if you go” suggestions on local transportation, useful websites, and favorite gelaterias.

For art ltd. magazine, Marjorie Och and Preston Thayer reporting from the 53rd International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.

by preston thayer & marjorie och