[-empyre-] Introduction

Manuela de Barros manuela.de.barros at free.fr
Thu Jun 16 19:59:12 EST 2011

Hello to everyone and a thanks a lot to Tim and Renate for inviting me to

I was at the opening of the Venise Biennale this year as I have been going
almost everytime for 20 years.
The Biennale is not always that interesting, but first it's in Venise, close
to Paris and a city I particularly love.
And even weak sometimes, the Biennale is so huge that I always discover
artists, works, points of view.

The Venise Biennale used to be indeed a national pavillion thing.
It's understandable as the first Biennale was held in 1895, in an historic
period when the concept of nation was not questionned as it is today.
But I don't think this national and pavillion issue is as important today.
In 1999, Harald Szeemann accepted to curate the 48th biennale at the express
condition that it could open it, "dAPERtutto", as the title puts it.
The exhibitions at the Arsenale started and since then it became more and
more important and large.
At the same time, countries which had no pavillion in the Giardini held
their own in other parts of the town and now the national pavillions are

This year was not different. But there are also "Collateral events" (!) and
wild exhibitions, performances, etc.
The main problem is rather that there are so many events than one can easily
be buried in this mass/mess.

Last thing about the national point, two examples of the fact that even
inside the Giardini things are changing a bit : the Polish pavillion showed
work, by an Israelian artist, and the artits in the American pavillion are

As for the Digital art presence, I would be much more pessimistic. The gap
between Contemporary art and Digital art is still very deep, in Venise as
well, or even more.
The Egytian pavillion was showing the last work of Ahmed Bassiouny, an media
artist from Cairo, but probably more because he was killed during the Tahrir
Place demonstrations after 26 days of performance in a gallery.

There was also an Internet Pavillion held by some French artists but in
marge of the Biennale as they had a conflict with the organisers of the
Biennale before the opening.
Other projects where discussed in this list already.

Contemporary art have its own logic and economy. Very different from Digital
art I think.
Building the bridges as well as respecting the inner content of each of them
has been a long ambition of mine.
When I go to Venise Biennale I know almost nothing is accomplished yet !

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