Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Venice Day 1

I lost six hours today (all sleep). I woke up to see the Dolomites momentarily visible in between the clouds. Soon Northern Italian lakes appeared surrounded by red roofs and irregular shaped fields. My first of many glorious mispronounciations occurred when telling the Blue Line driver I needed the Zattere stop [it looked like it should be in French rather than Italian - a mistake I would make quite often in the future]. It was the second to last stop and leisurely boating through the lagoon was a fantastic introduction to Venice.

Fortunately, the Don Orione had Room 116 ready for me at 11:30 AM. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to turn the lights on and had to call and ask the front desk (answer: the room key does it). I immediately took some photographs before my sprawl enveloped the room. There was one work of art on the wall - a peeled Medieval reproduction on a board of some religious scene (I am staying in a place run by the Catholic church and was formerly an orphanage). It was immediately covered with the wafer thin bath towel. I didn't consider the cross on the wall "art" but thought it looked better under a towel and left it that way for a few hours.

I thought I would cover my siestre today and not learn the vaporetto operating on jet lag. I'm staying in Dorsoduro where many of the galleries are located. I am instantly reminded of Amsterdam though there is more water here and the architecture is more phenomenal in Venice. First stop: the Gallerie dell'Accademia.

I was largely disappointed. Half of the building was under construction and I started to find that more fascinating than the artwork. Perhaps it was my desire to find Modern art among the Renaissance.

While traipsing through the Dorsoduro, I stumbled upon a couple Biennale exhibitions. Here is a a view from the Fondazione Claudio Buziol of Santa Maria d. Salute (the latter I would visit often due to its prominent location).

From there, you look down into the courtyard to see the Future Pass: From Asia to the World exhibition.
There were the obligatory Murakami and Nara works but many artists I did not know. It's very humid in Venice and the Biennale is up for several months. This show introduced me to the fact that artwork is displayed in some adverse conditions for this festival (especially paintings which began to show signs of warping in some air-conditioned lacking locations).

The exhibition overlooked the Grand Canal (the hook on the right belongs to an artwork that was not as interesting as the water).

The Future of a Promise: The First Pan Arab Show was quite good. Faycal Baghriche's globe was a highlight (it rotated quickly and the sound overwhelmed the back end of the gallery). There was a sense of urgency about the work and that was what I was drawn to most.

The art highlight of the day belonged to Michael Parekowhai's installation for the New Zealand Pavilion. I could hear the piano playing several hundred feet away before entering. There was no singing or crowd as in the video below (and if there had been, I would have liked it far less). The bronze bulls on the piano were monstrous and their postures added to the element of the performance.

I did find my future house on one of the many walks I took today. It's a fixer upper but the view from the garden is great.

Some random first impressions:

• There are enough plastic bottles in the lagoon to permanently disgust me and make me never purchase one again.

• I've had the urge to collect cigarette packs again since I see them all over the sidewalks.

• Infinity pools must be inspired by the proximity of buildings to water in this city (note to self: look up camo pool covers).

• Saw Larry David's 6'3" doppelganger en route to dinner (which may possible have been the best spaghetti I have ever eaten).

• Best sign: "Bathroom used to disable people."

I walked and walked until it started raining. Back to the hotel with the plan of seeing the Giardini and Arsenale tomorrow.

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