Not every contemporary artist is a fiend for art history. It’s still a surprise to me, because I’m often happier with, say, the Romans and the Greeks than with my contemporaries, but many artists are much more interested in what their peers are doing.
Venice, more than any other place I’ve been, merged the very old with the shiny new extremely well. Maybe this is why I felt so sustained, even validated, as a living artist there.
And because time stands still there, all times seamlessly and strangely united, it really was the perfect place to host that Artempo – Where Time Becomes Art exhibition. The name alone might raise curiosity. Well, when I left the show, I was still curious. Through it all, I kept either saying: “This is incredible, this is incredible” or “I’m not quite sure what we’re looking at…. is this a part of the show?....”
Because it was a like set design, inviting you to sit down, it was endless. I could have stayed a long time and not have seen it all, because I wasn’t even sure if half the things I noticed where part of the show or not. The lighting was so dim, it seemed the curators cared more about you feeling it than seeing it, which I liked. Someone clearly understood that seeing doesn’t necessarily equate with feeling.
You started questioning everything around you. The hanging tapestries designed by Fortuny seemed heavy not just in physical matter, but also in possible narration. What was meant as “art” and what just happened to be there? Everything looked like it had always been there, like maybe for centuries, including the Duchamp, the many Lucio Fontanas, the Marlene Dumas, the Bellmer and Yves Klein. (More photographs available here - just click on Palazzo Fortuny.)
Carolyn Zick and JL mentioned they were interested in the topic of a previous post, which was an attempt to clarify a transition from the spectator who creates quietly to someone who, well, is no longer such a spectator (or a quiet one, how about that). I have struggled ever since to define where I was headed, but unfortunately the longer I am back in my studio, in the States, in this time and place, some of it fades away. It is almost a tragic thing to lose, because it was so real (even if only in my head) and I think that Artempo show had as much to do with it as the Biennale. Because time stood still. Ego and identity was still there, but changed somehow.
But from this new distance, growing more everyday, old issues re-emerge... and maybe that was all just a momentary outburst of confidence. Yes, I’m an artist, just like all those in Venice (dead or alive). Do they wake up, sometimes – many times – in doubt? I’ll bet they do, but that is not what I saw.