• Ideas
  • May 14, 2017

57th Venice Biennale, Part 3: National Pavilions in the Arsenale

Between visits to the national pavilions and the central exhibition, “Viva Arte Viva,” there were also performances to see and participate in during the opening week of the 57th Venice Biennale. Japanese collective The Play’s “house boat” was floating in the water on the first day but had moved from its location the next; perhaps the group took it for a test paddle around the Arsenale’s calm waters. Also in the Arsenale was Nevin Aladağ’s performance Raise the Roof (2007/17), which features seven performers dancing in stiletto heels on copper sheets while they are listening to their favorite dancing songs—which only they can hear. The platforms they are gyrating on are mic’d and become like drums, collectively forming a percussive chorus. And in Giardini, I witnessed David Medalla and his partner Adam Nankervis conducting an initiation ceremony for three new members of the Mondrian Fan Club, which saw them being baptizing in primary-colored pigments (like those used in India for the Holi festival) in a ritual that mixed Christian, Hindu and Modernist symbolism. But back to the national pavilions—these ones were located in the Arsenale.

The interior of the China Pavilion, "Continuum