Wednesday, 12 June 2013

A Tale of Two Bernards

The Biennale runs on until mid-November, but some of the smaller exhibitions will have packed up long before then; so we took the opportunity on Sunday to try and knock off some of the early finishers. And to help us in this, we made use of "My Biennale Guide 2013" :-

- every event listed with start and end dates, locations marked on a map, and all in a convenient pocket-sized little book. What could be more useful?

We start with two artists inspired by their time in Madagascar. Or rather, we don't. We find ourselves in San Polo in search of a building that doesn't seem to exist. We walk up and down Calle Bernardo, several times. It really isn't there. We take out the useful little pink book and recheck the map. Then we recheck the listing. Ah. The map is directing us to Calle Bernardo, whereas the listing specifies Calle Bernardi. A subtle, but important difference. 

Still, the proper location isn't far away, so off we head, and within ten minutes we find ourselves outside Palazzo Ca' Bernardi. Recheck the book. Yes, this is definitely the place. Except that the art is conspicuous by its absence. There's no official Biennale sign to be seen. It just seems to be a private residence, and the only sign is for a bed and breakfast. We don't think we can really ring random bells and ask "Can we come in and see the art please mister?" so, reluctantly, we give the Madagascans up as a bad job.

There may be some art behind this door. And, then again, there may not.

Not to be downhearted, we strike out for Costa Rica at Ca' Bonvicini, not very far from where we've just come from. Except that when we arrive, Ca' Bonvicini appears to be a dentist's surgery. And not called Ca' Bonvicini. We walk up. We walk down. We walk around. But San Polo 2164 is obstinately refusing to be anything other than a dentist's.

Hang on a minute, San Polo??? 

We recheck the useful little pink book. The map directs us to San Polo. And the listing directs us to Santa Croce.

We've been on the go for an hour-and-a-half now and, in a city where almost every available building is pressed into use as an exhibition space, we have somehow contrived to find No Art At All.

It would be fair to say we're losing faith in the useful little pink book at this point, its convenient size not really compensating for the fact that it seems to be of limited use when it comes to actually finding anything. So we decide to cut our losses and head for somewhere that we actually know exists, Ca'Foscari, hosting a pretty good exhibition of contemporary Russian art.

Lenin encounters one of Giacometti's "Walking Men"

"Russia is the Motherland of elephants"

 There's a lot of it to get around, and by the time we finish the weather has completely changed and it's raining. We decide to make our way back via the Palestinians at the Liceo Artistico. The garden at the rear has been turned into a rather striking installation.

Giardino Occupato. You can guess what it's about.

The Ukrainians in Campo Santo Stefano are still open for business, with a well-thought-out exhibition of sculpture and video; and then we make our way home. It's been a good afternoon's work in spite of a shaky start. But next time the little pink book will probably be left at home.


  1. At first I thought "I want one of those pink books". By the end of your post, I was quite content to be sans said pink book!

    1. It's one of those good ideas that hasn't been quite thought through, as if the people who compiled the listings and put together the map never actually spoke to each other!


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