Venice 2024: Fondaziones, Museums, Institutions – Retinal Revelations: An Uplift of Good Fortune | Part II

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By visual artist and professional spectator, Georgia Kotretsos

[…] “Perhaps, then, what a lucky find reveals first in neither cosmos not chaos but the mind of the finder. It might even be better to drop “cosmos” and “chaos,” and simply say that a chance event is a little bit of the world as it is—a world always larger and more complicated than our cosmologies—and that smart luck is a kind of responsive intelligence invoked by whatever happens.” – Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth and Art, Lewis Hyde

To be precise, numerous remarkable worlds materialized when this intended journey of good fortune was set in motion, paved by destined lucky finds. We remain in Venice, a place we may never wish to leave, or find ourselves longing to return to for Part II, where Fondaziones, museums, and institutions beyond the realm of the 60th Venice Biennale take center stage. As an alert purposful finder, Ι often caught myself being reduced into ether in the presence of art—a state where one actively immerses into completing the bigger picture.

Please follow my lead at an unwavering pace, my good fortune!

First stop, the Cultural Odyssey in the Mediterranean, by the Art Explora Festival, presented a five-part experience at the first-ever museum boat between April 17th – 22nd at Riva Sette Martini across from the Giardini. The 46.5-meter sailing catamaran’s inaugural journey commenced in the Spring of 2024 and will culminate in the Autumn of 2026, reaching 15 countries and their audiences around the Mediterranean. The French entrepreneur, philanthropist, and mountaineer at heart, Frédéric Jousset upon climbing Mount Everest in 2019, returned to sea level a changed man, as he tells Stewart Cambell on BOAT International’s podcast. Illuminated, he set on a mission to reduce the cultural devide in Europe by supporting artistic creation through ART EXPLORA Foundation, which operates from both France and the UK. Art Explora Foundation inspires new encounters between arts and audiences – locally, nationally, and internationally. Thus in Venice, its presence was a true testament to its core mission once one was onboard.

The imposing 21-meter-high quay sails by French artist, Laure Prouvost “IDEALLY YOU WOULD SEA WHERE TO GO – HERE WE DREAM OF NO MORE FRONT TEARS”; the elaborate work “Love Difference – Mar Mediterraneo” by Michelangelo Pistoletto, a mirror-topped table shaped like the Mediterranean basin; “Mass Struggle” by Lebanese artist Akram Zataari, a floor-based installation in the shape of the Mediterranean Sea commissioned by international curators of the festival, Amanda Abi Khalil and Danielle Makhoul; the immersive poetic 10-minute sonic discovery of the wealth and diversity of the Mediterranean designed and produced by Ircam (Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music) for the Art Explora traveling festival. In the case of the “IRCAM soundscape”, as seductive as the largest catamaran in the world might have appeared at first, it soon settled into the background as a highly sophisticated art stage. Passengers instantly experienced a faux mal de débarquement syndrome in apparent passive motion. A pair of headphones, a reclinging canvas chair and shut eyes were all one needed to embark on a journey guided by a flawlessly edited sonic narrative, situating us collectively in the heart of the melting pot of civilizations. An internal visualization was unleased through this sonic mapping. At the main gallery, the “film programme” featuring works by artists from 15 countries exploring their relationship with the Mediterranean Sea; and last the “Flybridge” where between 5pm – 7pm a series of talks and discussions took place. Overall, this refined holistic voyage decluttered our gaze by hollowing out a vast space to cruise inwardly—unware of the distances covered and shores reached others on board. Follow the festival route and the museum boat’s journey here: https://www.artexplora.org/en/festival

Art Explora Festival, 21-meter-high quay sails by French artist, Laure Prouvost “IDEALLY YOU WOULD SEA WHERE TO GO – HERE WE DREAM OF NO MORE FRONT TEARS”
Art Explora Festival, reclining chairs
Art Explora Festival
Georgia Kotretsos, “IRCAM soundscape” for Art Explora Festival

The Berggruen Institute transcends disciplines and boundaries while seeking answers to the most pressing questions of our time. A committed investement in the power of impactful grander ideas – from an eagle-eye perspective, or better from a sattelite one. In 2021 Nicolas Berggruen established the European centre of the Berggruen Institue at the Casa dei Tre Oci in Venice – a house of ideas and place for global dialogue. After two years of restoration, Palazzo Diedo, reopens its doors with the inaugural exhibition entitled “JANUS”, anmed after the Roman God who starts and presides over all beginnings. He is represented as a two-faced animistic spirit of doorways looking stimultaneously towards the past and the future. The five-level, total 4,000 square metres now serves as the headquarters of Berggruen Arts & Culture, a charitable foundation. “JANUS” features original site-specific installations by eleven renowned artists: Urs Fischer, Piero Golia, Carsten Höller, Ibrahim Mahama, Mariko Mori, Sterling Ruby, Jim Shaw, Hiroshi Sugimoto, AYA TAKANO, Lee Ufan and Liu Wei. The works are often inspired by traditional crafts associated with Venice, such as frescos, Murano glass, precious fabrics and Venetian floor design. Eloquent installations evoke a sense of belonging to the broader context of Venice.

Palazzo Diedo, Berggruen Arts & Culture, “JANUS”

The “Peace Crystal” 2016-2024, by Mariko Mori, confronts one with an allegorical whismical immaculately fragile sanctuary that touched deeply the chords of its audience. In 2010, she embarked on a monumental public project to create six site-specific artworks in unique ecological settings, on each of the Earth’s habitable continents.

Mariko Mori, “Great Light”, 2024. Palazzo Diedo, Berggruen Arts & Culture, “JANUS”
Mariko Mori, “Peace Crystal”, 2024. Palazzo Diedo, Berggruen Arts & Culture, “JANUS”

Faou Foundation, a non-profit organization, was formed to realize the project. Mori’s artworks are an emblem of gratitude to the diverse ecosystems and natural resources found across the globe. Set within the beauty of their pristine surroundings, they are a prayer for peace and harmony, and a reminder that every living being exists to revere earth’s treasures. The Berggruen Arts & Culture explains that the Faou Foundation wishes to inspire an ethos of “One with Nature.” JANUS should not to be missed at any cost, it is the quintissential art experience, and one that is aligned with the greater Berggruen inquiries. On display until November 24th.

Ibrahim Mahama, “Three Little Birds”, 2023. Palazzo Diedo, Berggruen Arts
Piero Golia, “Concrete cube with glass chandelier”, 2024. Palazzo Diedo, Berggruen Arts & Culture, “JANUS”
Hiroshi Sugimoto, “Opticks”, 2018-2022. Palazzo Diedo, Berggruen Arts & Culture, “JANUS”
Urs Fischer, “Omen”, 2024. Palazzo Diedo, Berggruen Arts & Culture

To be continued…

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