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  • Writer's picturePam Givens

Interesting times.

We arrived in Venice the day the Biennale Arte 2019 opened.  The 58th International Art Exhibition.

There were grand yachts moored by the Giardini, very excited people filled the vaporetto's and poured out of them wondering which way to head and buried in their cell phones.

People were dressed in all kinds of finery - from 3-inch heels tight pants and silky blouses to painted kimonos colorful hats and hiking boots, many speaking languages unfamiliar to me. 

The venue was all over Venice not just in the Giardini and Arsenale and visitors followed maps on their phones to find the next treasure, and there were many.   I passed a sign like this, actually it was this sign, every day on my way and back forth from the classes I took at Artefact Mosaic Studios in the Castello district.  It was about a 20 minutes' walk, unless I got lost, which happened often or when I  stopped for coffee which happened more often.❤

So what could it mean?  Since the sign is the result of a worldwide art exhibition is it directed to the artist, the craftsperson, the creative spirit in all of us.  Are we more creative when we're living in interesting times? And what does that mean?  It sounds like a blessing to me, not a curse, if so, what does it mean?  Here is what Ralph Rugoff, curator of the Biennale says.  "May You Live in Interesting Times will no doubt include artworks that reflect upon precarious aspects of existence today, including different threats to key traditions, institutions and relationships of the “post-war order.” But let us acknowledge at the outset that art does not exercise its forces in the domain of politics. Art cannot stem the rise of nationalist movements and authoritarian governments in different parts of the world, for instance, nor can it alleviate the tragic fate of displaced peoples across the globe (whose numbers now represent almost one percent of the world’s entire population). But in an indirect fashion, perhaps art can be a kind of guide for how to live and think in ‘interesting times.’ The 58th International Art Exhibition will not have a theme per se, but will highlight a general approach to making art and a view of art’s social function as embracing both pleasure and critical thinking. The Exhibition will focus on the work of artists who challenge existing habits of thought and open up our readings of objects and images, gestures and situations.

Art of this kind grows out of a practice of entertaining multiple perspectives: of holding in mind seemingly contradictory and incompatible notions, and juggling diverse ways of making sense of the world. Artists who think in this manner offer alternatives to the meaning of so-called facts by suggesting other ways of connecting and contextualising them. Animated by boundless curiosity and puncturing wit, their work encourages us to look askance at all unquestioned categories, concepts and subjectivities.

It invites us to consider multiple alternatives and unfamiliar vantage points, and to discern the ways in which “order” has become the simultaneous presence of diverse orders.»

For me the courses at Artefact Mosaic Studio helped me to see diverse ways of creating compelling mosaics.

I'm grateful for this wonderful experience and for being in Venice, Italy during this most amazing art exhibition.



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