Wim Botha

Alcune immagini della bellissima installazione di Wim Botha per il Padiglione del Sudafrica alla Biennale di Venezia, in corso fino al 24 novembre.

Danaë by Vadim Zakharov

venice-biennale-russian-pavillion-danae-vadim-zakharov-3-thumb-620x413-60437 copiaMy new article for Cool Hunting.

Greek mythology is the inspiration for the Russian Pavilion at this year’s 55th Venice Art Biennale, which is seen in “Danaë”—a provocative installation conceived by conceptual artist Vadim Zakharov and curated by Udo Kittelman, under the supervision of commissioner Stella Kesaeva.

The rooms of the building (designed and built in 1914 and situated in the area of the Giardini) have undergone some structural changes to connect all of the spaces that host the installation, which consists of objects, performance and the continuous involvement of the visitors.

The action is centered on the flow of custom-made golden coins (each one is One Danaë), symbolizing fertility and abundance. Coins fall from the sky, in a room where only women are allowed to enter (protected by a transparent umbrella) and take a handful. The coins are then brought by female visitors to an adjacent room, put into a bracket and hand-lifted to the upper floor through a hole in the ceiling. The man who takes the coins up is in charge of filling a machine that, thanks to a special lift, automatically takes them to top of the pavilion, where they fall again. This process keeps repeating and repeating.

In another room, a man is sitting on a saddle on top of a pillar. While he’s eating peanuts, the only thing he produces is leftovers falling on the ground—trash, not gold. Writing on the wall says: “Gentlemen, time has come to confess out Rudeness, Lust, Narcissism, Demagoguery, Falsehood, Banality and…” In another room the sentence continues: “…and Greed, Cynicism, Robbery, Speculation, Wastefulness, Gluttony, Seduction, Envy and Stupidity.” Only the golden coins carried by the ladies can save: on one side, their true value is unveiled and it consists of “Trust, Unity, Freedom, Love.”

The 55th Venice Biennale is open to the public now until 24 November 2013.

Carlo Scarpa: Venini 1932-1947

My new article for Cool Hunting

Coinciding with the events of Venice Architecture BiennaleVenini presents an exhibition dedicated to its famous collaboration with Carlo Scarpa, artistic director of the glassware firm from 1932 to 1947.

The exhibition of 300 pieces (large and small vases, containers, dishes and more) demonstrates how the direct relationship between the architect and the craftsmen resulted in little glass masterpieces. Alongside unique pieces, prototypes and mass-produced items, the exhibit showcases original drawings and rare photos from Venini’s historical archives.

Carlo Scarpa was intimately involved with production techniques and spent many hours in direct contact with the artisans on the island of Murano, where the best Venetian glass has been made since the Middle Ages, trying to understand the secrets of glassmaking, develop new techniques and encourage more extreme and deeper experimentation.

The exhibition is divided into areas defined by production technique. Among the most famous works are vases made using the “a bollicine” technique that fills the glass with tiny bubbles that can even draw ornamental motifs. Scarpa was also able to give new life to traditional techniques, such as the “filigrana” (watermark) and the very well known “murrina,” an icon of Venetian craftsmanship. The unexpected colors of the pieces on display are sometimes enhanced by amazing surface effects, giving the look and feel of mother of pearl, ice, smoke or metal. The consistency of the different masterpieces is also a constant surprise, since the exhibition shifts from thick structures to incredibly light and volatile wonders.

The exhibition is curated by Marino Barovier and will be open until 29 November 2012 at Le Stanze del Vetro at the Giorgio Cini Foundation.