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52th Venice Biennale 2007

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Take Care of yourself  / Philosopher by  Venice       Biennale 2007
Sophie Calle

Cineclub at Thomas Dane by  Venice       Biennale 2007
Tobias Putrih

I make this territory mine by Manuela       Ribadeneira
Manuela Ribadeneira

Untitled (White Flower and Hand) by  Venice       Biennale 2007
Mustafa Hulusi

1984 and beyond by  Venice       Biennale 2007
Gerard Byrne

1984 and beyond by  Venice       Biennale 2007
Venice Biennale,
Jun 01, 2007 - Nov 21, 2007
Venice, Italy

52th Venice Biennale (2007)
by Cecilia Canziani

When France nominated Sophie Calle to represent the country, the artist put an ad in the press, inviting candidates to act as curator for the pavilion. Calle attempted to undermine the accepted rules of the Biennale, but the outcome of such actions go beyond the critique of the institution. The artist appointed Daniel Buren as curator and it is difficult not to imagine that the perfect control of space and display has also something of his own work. Take care of yourself presents the translation of a break up letter that Calle received and which she sent to 107 women chosen for their profession or skills to interpret it -to analyze it, comment on it, dance it, sing it. Exhaust it, understanding it for me. Answer for me’ as a way to take care of herself. Among the interpreters are a talmudic exegete, a police captain, an anthropologist, a headhunter, an actress, a dancer. Some are well known, some are not. But all the women taking part in this game become a healing community.

Leaving the Giardini is always a good excuse to get lost in the folds of Venice. The Isola di San Servolo hosts the Slovenian Pavilion, which artist Tobias Putrih conceived as an architecture, a cineclub made of wood panels, organic in its shape, sculptural from outside and activated every day by a challenging video program. Ca’ Zenobio hosts this year Territorios, an exhibition which, under the auspices of the Instituto Italo-Latino Americano, brings together the works of artists representing Central and South America. The theme of the exhibition, common to most artists presented, constitutes a meaningful frame in which the Ecuadorian artist Manuela Ribadeneira inscribes her investigation of the politics and poetics of space with a work. An installation in which a knife stuck in the wall projects the text 'I make this territory mine’ and a sound work based on the ritual of possession of space in the age of colonization, powerfully questions the geopolitics of the International Exhibition. It is perhaps interesting to read such work in parallel to that of Haris Epaminonda and Mustafa Hulusi, who represent the Republic of Cyprus and question with video, collage and history painting, memory and representation of a country. Ireland had two pavilions this year, one next to each other and occupying two wings of the same Palazzo: Willie Doeherty for Nothern Ireland and Gerard Byrne of the Republic of Ireland, one of the most interesting artists working with video these days. Perhaps this year the most interesting shows were put together by those countries that did not find space in the Giardini; and Switzerland, the most unbalanced pavilion of the entire biennial, might well serve as a metaphor: the country doubled its presence, with a embarrassing project at the Giardini, and an intense installation by Urs Fisher and Ugo Rondinone at San Stae.

As always, around the biennial there was the usual plethora of events that raise funds for the main shows, and of which we do not need to examine - with the exception of the monumental installation on the façade of the Monastero degli Armeni at San Lazzaro by Joseph Kosuth, an investigation on the interrelation of languages and cultures.

-Cecilia Canziani is a curator living and working in Rome.

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