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critical discussion @ monks garden, venice
irish forgotten zine library arrives in venice bienelle, the "art olympics"
bienelle lasts from june 12 till oct 2.
US born Sarah Pierce is 1 of 5 artists representings republic of Ireland.
Since 2003, Sarah Pierce has organised an art practice involving a number of strategies collectively termed The Metropolitan Complex. Central to this practice is an investigation of the local as a discourse articulated through institutions, artists, art schools, and bureaucracies. Here, the so-named ‘complex’ implicates the psychological, social, and often incidental relationships that form a local scene. For Venice, The Metropolitan Complex sites a Pavilion on the grounds of the Scuola di San Pasquale as an experiment in nationality, history and finding one’s place.
Ireland at Venice
first dispatch from artist Sarah Pierce:
Site : Visit (2005)
A few months ago, a negotiation took place on behalf of the Padres di Convento San Francesco della Vigna and myself, to arrange access to the garden adjacent to the Scuola di San Pasquale in Venice’s Castello district, the site of Ireland at Venice 2005. The Fathers lease the garden for storage, as well as using it as a back entry to a small office next to the main building. The agreement: To open the garden gate to the public for la Biennale di Venezia.
The garden has both changed and retained elements I recall from a brief visit two years ago. Someone has built a corrugated shed in the centre. Three large stumps, placed irregularly, garnish the area. Ultimately, I realise these are part of a collection; 17 stumps of different sizes randomly occupy the garden from beneath fig bushes, beside planters, and along the path that leads to the stairs. This odd intervention evokes Robert Smithson’s Hotel Palenque, scripted as a lecture in 1972 for architecture students at the University of Utah. The work’s accompanying sequence of slides documents the hotel in Mexico and the unsystematic add-ons and repairs that repeatedly reconfigure its grounds. The garden is not one person’s vision. It is several, altering, autonomous moments of attention, at varying stages of progress, underway but unfinished. This multifarious involvement can happen where ‘site’ is available, up for grabs, not fixed historically or contextually predetermined.
Green space is rare in Venice, yet squatting is legal, and I am told by an architect living here that the locals call squats ‘community centres’. I wonder what it means to represent Ireland at Venice. I’m not Irish. In Dublin squatting, or the unauthorised occupation of vacant space, is illegal. Along the Grand Canal in Dublin in a neighbourhood called Rialto, Dunk, a young architecture student and activist has started a movement to ‘green’ the city by planting community gardens in derelict industrial plots. Eventually, these will connect to create a green spine through the city. In recent correspondence he writes, “The Grand Canal is under threat due to recent construction of the Kildare motorway bypass, which has affected the Pollardstown fens water levels, which is the source of the Grand Canal.”
Dunk introduces me to a group who occupy a warehouse along the DART, and who organise Sunday bike-workshops, screenings, and Vegan meals. There I meet Ciaran Walsh, an artist and also the co-founder of the Forgotten Zine Library, an archive of several personal collections. We make plans to transport 429 Irish publications, both zines and freesheets, from the library to Venice to announce a pavilion of sorts in the garden. I record the addresses of the people who made them. Most of the addresses are houses in the suburbs surrounding Dublin.
A majority of the zines in the Forgotten Zine Library are made by people in their 20s now, born in the late 70s, and refer to the DIY ethos of punk, anarchy, and eco-living. I wonder about male artists in my generation whose art references a group who came before them. Ed Ruscha, Bruce Nauman, Robert Smithson, Richard Serra, Dan Graham, Gordon Matta-Clark. There is a certain serendipity between the ages we are now, and the ages of these artists in the decade we were born. They are figures in the landscape, in black-and-white photographs taken in the American desert, in dungarees. Ed Ruscha is representing the U.S. this year in the United States pavilion. He describes his work as a collection of facts and readymades. It strikes me how loaded with politics one of his seminal pieces, Twentysix Gasoline Stations made in 1963, is today.
Inscribed on the exterior of the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin is a work by Lawrence Weiner: WATER & SAND + STICKS & STONES.
On my last day in Venice I visit the Giardini. It is April and only three countries have begun work on their pavilions. Some men are cleaning Japan with an industrial machine; Austria is surrounded by stacks of timber; Australia’s roof is getting a hose-down. The rest of the place looks like wasteland. Vinyl text on France, leftover from the architecture biennale tells about sustainability and future cities. The U.S. pavilion has boarded windows and graffiti on the entrance.
Around 1969, Smithson did a series of Mirror Displacements along the Yucatan. He photographed each one and consecutively documented them in narrative texts. He wrote, “Time is devoid of objects when one displaces all destinations.” I often think about this sentence. Try rearranging it.
Destinations are devoid of time when one displaces all objects.
Displaced objects, devoid of time.
One time, devoid of objects, all destinations.
Incidents of travel arrive in Venice in the Monk’s Garden.
- Sarah Pierce
previous related stuff:
"red archive" (relationship between art and politics) exhibition @ project arts centre, temple bar, may 2004
listen to audio feedback session between "art" and "activist" communities-@ 30 mns
forgotten zine arrives in venice