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John Giorno

Rob Montgomery

Tomorrow is the first day of previews at the 54th International Biennale of Art in Venice, the most prestigious event in the art world’s calendar.

Curated by Bice Curiger under the title ILLUMInations the Biennale will play host to 89 ‘National Participations’ and 37 Collateral Events: a daunting panoply of art that assaults the senses and should probably come with a warning – ‘May Induce Stendhal Syndrome’ – so overwhelming is the effect.

There were 375,702 visitors to the 2009 Biennale and this year’s threatens to be even bigger. Every major Gallery and Institution in the ‘Art World’ will have a
presence somewhere here alongside the countless artists, Collectors and Canals that make up Venice, the most unreal of cities.

Somewhere in amongst the riot of colour confusion that is the ‘Floating City’ I and my partners in VENICE NOW – a newly founded ‘art initiative’ (well that’s what it says in our press release) – are trying to stage two shows: Orientale*, a group show, curated by the esteemed curator and critic Maurizio Bortolotti and Shwetal Ashvin Patel, a Director of the newly established Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India: and John Giorno Star 69: Dial-A-Poem-Relics.

This is a tale of two Biennales – the official monster, National Pavilions, Super Yachts, ego-unleashed, art unbounded, money, greed, plastic surgery, insight,
collaboration, insider dealing, the taste of the lagoon, ugly art, beautiful people, beautiful art, ugly people – the real world of the most unreal city this side of the Magic Kingdom. And then there’s our Biennial; built on a pound of flesh, a bucket of tears and a puddle of summertime sweat. It is a wonder and we wonder why we are here in this metropolis with no skyscrapers and no streets but come Hell or Alta Agua there will be ART. It’s a dream crazy love affair – though we believe that if we build it they will come – we are unbalanced obviously – but nothing is balanced for long in the Floating City.

David Dorrell

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