Avid art blog followers will now be familiar with Creative New Zealand’s NZ at Venice blog site. The project curators of Judy Millar’s Giraffe-Bottle-Gun and Francis Upritchard’s Save Yourself, and the venue attendants have been blogging regularly since the beginning of the installation period.
Posts are coming in thick and fast and it’s great to be able to get a sense of the daily life in Venice during Biennale time.
So now it’s my turn on behalf of Te Papa to post a report on the 53rd International Art Exhibition, known as the Venice Biennale, after my recent visit.
I was in Venice between 1 – 8 June to view Judy Millar and Francis Upritchard’s projects and to support them at the openings along with the folk from Creative NZ. It was a wonderful time to be there in the lead up to the openings and vernissage period that kicked off in earnest on 4 June.
The projects both look great in their respective spaces and they respond really well to the architecture. One of the amazing things about Venice is the architecture and the ornate interiors that are usually inaccessible except during Biennale time when many of them are opened and used for exhibitions.
In Save Yourself, self absorption that shuts out all else seems to be the common thread between Upritchard’s figures. The installation is in three parts – one for each room of Uprtichard’s space in the Palazzo Mangilli-Valmarana - each part unified by a table either scaled up or otherwise subtly altered by Upritchard from her own furniture or other tables she likes. The figures on each table ignore each other. They are placed so that they are facing outwards. Each named figure has its own character seen in their expression, colouring, posture and features.
Upritchard has commented that she thought long and hard about how to work with the opulent space and her use of the mirrors adds to the distance and self interest of the figures. Several of the figures are facing the mirrors and their separateness from their fellows becomes emphasised by their apparent interest in watching themselves.