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PRESENTATION 18 Dec.

2012 -1It is a multi-layered proposal, which is more about combining the ideas of several authors and analysing artistic practices that question them, rather than sticking to one text. I hope I still remain coherent though… -2“We, too, build sites that publicly represent beliefs about the order of the world, its past and present, and the individual’s place within it.” 1 I would argue that the Venice Biennale is an example of such microcosms that closely relates to Carol Duncan’s understanding of the museum. With this example, I won’t stress on the physical resemblance of the configuration of the Biennale, even though a similitude can be found, for instance, when one considers the impressively high number of churches dispersed in Venice’ urban tissue or compared to the Vatican state. The focus is rather on the Biennale’s settings giving rise to rituals, not on the scale of one building, but on that of the whole city. According to Victor Turner, quoted by Duncan, through the state of ‘liminality’, these cultural situations “could open a space in which individuals can step back from the practical concerns and social relations of everyday life and look at themselves and their world” 2 In the case of the Venice Biennale, this world is directly recognized in the national pavilions and the representation of the world they aim to forge. -3-­‐ -­‐ -­‐ -­‐ It is marked off: the insular nature of Venice and its homogenous historical architecture, and Venice as a holiday destination, differentiate it from day-to-day space and time; It is culturally designated as reserved for a special quality of attention: flânerie, contemplation and learning; It involves a specific audience, specialists/professionals of the field or cultivated amateurs, which act like pilgrims coming from far to experience an event which will lead them to erudition; It involves an element of performance: a map guides the visitor through the different venues and suggests a structured route and activity according to the site (the Giardini, the Arsenale, the national pavilions, the para-events, the library, educational room, bookshop, café and restaurants etc.), like the pilgrims who follow a structured narrative route, stopping at prescribed points for prayer or contemplation.

-4-5-6Fig. -This seems all accurate for a general view of the Venice Biennale, but it becomes trickier when analysing what is shown in the individual pavilion and how they act within the frame given by                                                                                                                
1 2

Carol Duncan, The Art Museum as Ritual (1995) in The Art of Art History, p. 425. Carol Duncan, The Art Museum as Ritual (1995) in The Art of Art History, p. 427.

In Michel Foucault’s term. Muro Cerrando un Espacio (2003). Common pavilions (2012). Exhibition Architecture (After Constant’s Design for a Gypsy Camp) (2011). . Following the Marxist adage “Religion is the opiate of the masses”. institutions. what is at stake is cultural hegemony (Antonio Gramsci): behind an apparent diversity. -7The sacralisation of the Biennale and its settings of rituals became a tool to implement cultural hegemony. the apparatus (‘dispositif’ in French) is "a thoroughly heterogeneous ensemble consisting of discourses. The apparatus itself is the system of relations that can be established between these elements. Such are the elements of the apparatus. I believe the sacralisation of the Biennale and the ritualistic behaviour that accompanies it. it designates the various institutional. as much as to confound this sacred space with an amusement park. architectural forms. So I take the opportunity to analyse examples that engage critically with the Biennale’s configuration and rather contradicts this liminal state. reveals geo-political adhesions that are still eloquent and influential today. Metaville (2006). curatorial aim that generally changes every year. as every pavilion depends on a different ideology. the Biennale serves as a tool to impose a cultural norm. philosophical.Hans Haacke. scientific statements.Aernout Mik. Germania (1993). revealed its complicit relation to the fascist social formation that produced it. who filled the French pavilion with an inhabited structure.Daniel Knorr. a collection of critical texts was handed out instead. administrative measures. which enhance and maintain the exercise of power within the social body. a universally valid dominant ideology. . moral and philanthropic propositions–in short. Furthermore. generalized to the sacralised space of the Biennale. which enhance and maintain the exercise of power within the social body." It refers to the various mechanism and knowledge structures. It can be defined by Foucault’s term of apparatus (dispositive). which feigns to represent everyone. . the said as much as the unsaid. hence. . . who gave a physical form and presence to the Roma Pavilion by the reinterpretation of an existing plan. physical and administrative mechanisms and knowledge structures. is completely absorbed and instrumentalised by a market driven institutionalized art sector. who by a radical intervention on the neoclassical German pavilion. the territorial organisation of the national pavilions. who collected critical reviews on the architectural history of each pavilion situated in the Giardini. . who left the Romanian pavilion empty. European Influenza (2005). -8A series of artistic projects aimed to reveal the intrinsic structure of the Biennale in the tradition of a more or less proclaimed Institutional Critique: E. who sealed of the Spanish pavilion and made it only accessible to holders of the Spanish passport. rooted on the imperial past of each nation-state.g. laws.Patrick Bouchain. regulatory decisions. the religious belief is seen as fiction and alienation.Santiago Sierra. What appears is a rather biased pattern deeply configured by economical and political parameters. .Duncan.Diener & Diener.

I do not take an example that in all its characteristics fits to Benjamin’s description. p.-9-10-11Fig. rd . 1939) in The Art of Art History. the source of its original use value. 439. 437. The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility (3 version. -I would like to focus on Aernout Mik’s contribution. -12“In even the most perfect reproduction. 4 rd Wlter Benjamin. 1939) in The Art of Art History. The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility (3 version. It is this unique existence – and nothing else – that bears the mark of the history to which the work has been subject. p. But here again as with Duncan’s text. 1939). it doesn’t treat photography neither film… … but another type of reproduction. -13The artwork’s cult value “The unique value of the authentic work of art has its basis in ritual.” 4 Uniqueness and permanence • • • -14The artwork’s exhibition value                                                                                                                 3 Created by an established Dutch artist. as a unique artistic reinterpretation An in-situ art installation. which can only be seen in this particular context of the Venice Biennale Exhibited in a group show in the prestigious Palazzo Zorzi of the UNESCO office Wlter Benjamin. I believe that it can be put under an interesting light through the lens of Walter Benjamin’s analyses in “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility” (3rd version. one thing is lacking: the here and now of the work of art – its unique existence in a particular place.”3 A reproduction undermines the two following concepts: -­‐ -­‐ Authenticity (changes the physical structure of the work and its ownership) Authority (affects the historical testimony of the object) It leads to two processes: -­‐ -­‐ It substitutes a mass existence for a unique existence It actualizes that which is reproduced And the character of its reception oscillates between cult value and exhibition value.

rd . it is based on a different practice: politics. on the contrary. among these the artistic function may be seen as incidental: the political and critical function come to the foreground The idea of displacement is re-actualized and addressed to the gypsy community. The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility (3 version. act as a western projection of how gypsies could live. the content Critique • Does it reach out of western canonical reference or.” 5 Transitoriness and repeatability • • • • -15The Aernout Mik’s reproduction questions the Art Biennale itself • What place is given to minorities? • Is the nation-state configuration of the Biennale still relevant? • What are we looking at? The container vs. p.“As soon as the criterion of authenticity ceases to be applied to artistic production. Instead of being founded on ritual. as a pastiche. doesn’t it resemble the Egyptian pavilion described by Timothy Mitchell? A reproduction of Constant’s design after an idea of the art critic Tom McDonough The work reproduced becomes the reproduction of a work designed for reproducibility: a 1-1 model as a prototype of a process which has to be further developed It becomes a construct with new functions. 440. but also to the European community to consider the validity of its borders                                                                                                                 5 Wlter Benjamin. the whole social function of art is revolutionized. 1939) in The Art of Art History.