A current in contemporary art (55th Venice Biennale)

As mentioned in the ‚#2 · Dear Santa‘ post, I will now elaborate on; ..the associations to other things that I have noticed lately, as current themes of our present/post crisis times. – in confluence with the ‚Alberi‘, by Michelangelo Frammartino‘ post – here is a last nerdy note on art, before getting down with the wishful thinking again.

The title of this year 55th Venice Biennale, was ‘The Encyclopedic Palace of the World’. One might have anticipated to find intricate, technological hologram pieces or other sci-fi like art. Or at least a vast representation of computerized, laser-beaming wonders, that points towards the horizon of our ever brighter-shining expectations, for the digitalized future. But on the contrary the festival was influenced by turn-of-century art, or pieces made to look as such. Classic object-orientated art with the individual and the soul at center, relating to the former art periods of Jugend or Sezession. Several big nature-like installations, and classic paitings (water colors), such as Swedish Hilma af Klint’s (1862-1944) symbolic and mystical images (recently exhibited at Hamburger Bahnhof). To some extend the artwork exhibited mirrored the spirit of the fin-de-siècle movement, that revolted against materialism, rationalism and positivism, and instead supported subjectivism, emotionalism and vitalism. In other words there seem to be a strong longing away from the digital and back to the graspable – as if asking what value does the soul have in the digital age?
As a response to this renewed spiritual seeking, the arts becomes physically anchored in the body and the tactile, evolving around nature and the rootedness it invokes in us. Here one might add, that several of the participating artists (like Hilma af Klint) no longer lives, but are being exhibited posthumous. No less than 1/3 of all exhibited artists at the Venice Biennale 2013 are no longer among us, thus bringing about discretely the themes of impermanence and death.
The years following the Great Depression and World War II, was the time when Existentialism grew big and had a strong influence on art, and many other disciplines besides philosophy. As a reaction to our fast paced and neurotically wi-fi needing, online lives – and the present/post global recession – emphasis on the ingenious birth-given, and simplest tool of all, is in immediate focus again – our hands. And what we can do with them.   

3ea1bbb4-e209-495f-94ea-ee44aaf4647e--00000--Berlinde De Bruyckere_Kreupelhout-Cripplewood, 2012-2013©MirjamDevriendt5
A personal favorite is Berlinde de Bruyckere’s ‚Cripplewood‘, an enormous 1:1 wax installation of a fallen tree. The tree as a fallen body, broken and in bandages – again a connection between the tree and human. Leads ones thoughts to Norse Mythology and the big Ash tree ‚Yggdrasil‘, that stand at center of Norse cosmology. Here the balance is off and the tree (man) lies like a fallen soldier.

Another free spun association is to Francis Bacon’s meaty, raw and potent oil paintings.


‚Venetians 2013‘ by Pawel Althamer – each character depicts a different action, emotion, and idea.

Hilma af Klint

Xoo-ang Choi, ‚Wing‘

Visitors looks at Ai Wei Wei's installation Bang at the German pavilion  ‚Bang‘, by Ai Weiwei for the German Pavilion

Ara Almarcegui for the Spanish Pavilion

‚Alison Lapper Pregnant‘ by British artist Marc Quinn

ROMITO_PARTICOLAREStill photo of the hand of the ‚Romiti‘ from Michelangelo Frammartino’s ‚Alberi‘ (not exhibited at the Biennale)

Pictures from various pages:




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