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Breathing New Life into Spaces

Updated: Mar 31, 2019

It is interesting to think of a city as a picture frame; its architectural elements fading to the background, only to enhance a piece of art. This is exactly what happens during the Venice Biennale Arte.  Not every piece of art is displayed with its installation surroundings in mind; but for some the unifying of area and art makes great space.

At this past summers Biennale Arte 2015, three pieces impressed me with the character to enliven their spaces. Venice is the perfect spot; it holds much unique and textured architecture. Some of these spaces would be beautiful on their own; yet, the art improves them, drawing us in, and resonating with a new energy.

Xu Bing’s Dragon is a very, large metal sculpture which hangs in an abandoned ship dock. To replace ship with dragon evokes travel; however, this new “ship” is a mythical, magical ride. We want to dream and maybe not unlike the ancient Venetian merchants, whose ships waited here for the next spice run.

Set in a small white pavilion was Chiharu Shiota’s “The Key in Hand.” “Once you step inside the building, you will see two wooden boats, red yarn stretching in every direction as well as an enormous number of keys, each attached to the end of a piece of yarn. The keys were assembled from all over the world for the exhibition. Shiota explain, “keys connect us to each other, boats carry people and time.” By combining and reasoning with the memories that people from all over the world bring to the pavilion, we truly hope that Shiota’s work, and accumulation of various memories, will inspire new dialogues and ideas.”  A simple white box I transformed into another world and the dangling keys remind us to keep unlocking those worlds.

A third piece by Elpida Hadzi-Vaileva is a ball of twine hanging from the ceilings with other various strands radiating and touching each wall and floor. A gauzy canopy echoes the vaulted ceiling space and captures light. The juxtaposition between knot and column amplifies what is permanent with what is temporary.

So what is temporary and beautiful can breathe newness into space and make it great, if only for a fleeting moment.

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