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Cat Bauer has lived in Venice since 1998. She was a regular contributor to the "International Herald Tribune's" Italian supplement, "Italy Daily," and is the author of the novels "Harley, Like a Person" and "Harley's Ninth," published by Knopf.
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|Maserati at the Venice Film Festival|
(Venice, Italy) SACRO GRA
(Italy, France), a documentary by Gianfranco Rosi, won the Golden Lion for Best Film last night at the 70th Venice International Film Festival. It's been 15 years since an Italian film won the top prize, and the first time ever for a documentary.
Bernardo Bertolucci, the President of the jury, quipped that there had been some discussion about whether to give the Volpi Cup for Best Actor to Donald Rumsfeld for his performance in the documentary THE UNKNOWN KNOWN
. Instead, that prize went to Themis Panou for MISS VIOLENCE
, a Greek film, which also won the Silver Lion for Best Director for Alexandros Avranas. It was unusual for a film to win more than one prize -- in fact, everyone is always arguing about it. But last year THE MASTER
(USA) won the Silver for Paul Thomas Anderson and Best Actor(s) for Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, so, perhaps, it is a new trend.
I hadn't seen either winning film, so I went to the screenings after the awards. SACRO GRA
is about the real life characters that live around Rome's Ring Road highway. I would have given it three stars, not the top prize. MISS VIOLENCE
starts with a girl committing suicide by jumping off the balcony on her 11th birthday, and then slowly peels away the layers of dysfunction in which the other members of family have wrapped themselves. It was skillfully insidious.
CLICK TO GO TO THE LOCAL
FOR COMPLETE LIST BEST NEW SPONSOR: MASERATI
Maserati was the main sponsor of the festival this year, and it was a thrill to see all the Quattroporte (Four Door) luxury sedans lined up outside the Excelsior Hotel, ready to whisk the celebrities off to the Red Carpet. The engines sounded like lions purring. It's been a while since a car turned me on, but this one has got it all: style, class, elegance, beauty and
"Maserati begins its relationship with the 70th Venice Film Festival as main sponsor of the event, cementing the relationship between the prestigious film festival and the Fiat Group."
BEST INNOVATION: SHOWING VINTAGE CLIPS BEFORE THE SCREENINGS
|Excelsior Hotel Terrace 1932|
The Venice Film Festival is the oldest film festival on the planet, created by Count Giuseppi Volpi in 1932. In the archives area are all sorts of nifty news clips such as Winston Churchill taking a dip in the sea, Marilyn Monroe arriving on the Lido, George Cukor and other classics. This year, the press got to see some vintage clips before the screenings, much to everyone's delight. BEST MOVIE I MISSED AND WISH THAT I SAW: KILL YOUR DARLINGS
Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) caused a pedestrian traffic girl-jam when he showed up at Coin Department Store in Venice to promote Kill Your Darlings
, a movie about Allen Ginsberg and the Beat Generation. The Guardian
: "Kill Your Darlings...
is the real deal, a genuine attempt to source the beginning of America's first true literary counterculture of the 20th century."
MOVIES THAT I SAW and MY RATINGS:
****GRAVITY by Alfonso Cuaron (USA) - There is nothing like starting off a film festival with a good old fashioned Hollywood blockbuster set in outer space.
***WOLKFSKINDER (WOLF CHILDREN) by Rick Ostermann (Germany) Proving that no one group of people have a monopoly on suffering, after World War II had ended, Russian soldiers hunted down and murdered German children orphaned by the war just because they were German. A little-known piece of history finally gets explored. (Part of Orrizzonti competition.)
***1/2 JOE by David Gordon Green (USA) - Prediction: Nicholas Cage will be nominated for an Academy Award for his performance. Last night, Tye Sheridan did win the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor or Actress. The two of them had great chemistry.
From the Hollywood Reporter
: "Powered by raw yet expertly measured performances from Nicolas Cage
and Tye Sheridan
as an ex-con fumbling for atonement and a luckless boy reaching out for a father figure, respectively, the film captures both the grit and the compassion for its characters’ pain that are hallmarks of the writing of novelist Larry Brown
** The Canyons
by Paul Schrader (USA) - I wrote a post about it HERE
**Night Moves by Kelly Reichardt (USA) - I never got emotionally involved in this story about three radical environmentalists who blow up a damn to make their point.
: "...this tale of three environmental activists planning a dangerous act of eco-terrorism has a quietly gripping first hour that builds to a suspenseful peak, then yields faintly diminishing returns thereafter as the doubts and implications set in."
by Stephen Frears (UK) - I loved it; I thought it should have won the Golden Lion; I wrote about it HERE
. It did win Best Screenplay here in Venice.
**Child of God by James Franco (USA) - I'm sorry, but, to me, there is nothing interesting about watching a serial killer defecate in the woods unless he does it differently from the rest of us.
From Variety: "Descending into the cavernous lower depths of human depravity inhabited by Lester Ballard, modern literature’s most famous necrophile, Franco has emerged with an extremely faithful, suitably raw but still relatively hemmed-in adaptation that compares favorably with his earlier films, yet falls short of achieving a truly galvanizing portrait of social and sexual deviance."
***1/2 Parkland by Peter Landesman (USA) It is always difficult to watch John Kennedy get assassinated. The State of Texas does not come off well in this version.
From The Guardian
: "...if the film finally doesn't tell us anything we did not already know, the approach makes a worn-out old tragedy feel supple and urgent."
***The Armstrong Lie
by Alex Gibney (USA) - I wrote about it HERE
|The Zero Theorem by Terry Gilliam|***The Zero Theorem
by Terry Gilliam (UK; USA) Wacky, wonderful and worth-seeing, it seemed to really appeal to 21-year-old guys. From The Guardian
: "...the film has a ragged charm, a Tiggerish bounce, and a certain sweet melancholy that bubbles up near the end. It is a wilfully iconoclastic film from a wilfully iconoclastic man. And it shows, for better or worse, that Gilliam is still in the game and eyeing the prize, despite his spectacularly ill-starred recent career."
**1/2 Locke by Steven Knight (UK) Interesting because it's in real time, but since the only action is a man driving while talking on the phone, it belongs on television -- or in the theater. Only Tom Hardy's performance makes it worth watching.
From The Guardian
: " Locke is played by Tom Hardy
, who affects a rich Welsh delivery that I could listen to all day. After sitting through the entirety of this bold, well-acted yet ultimately exasperating movie, I almost feel I have."
**Disney Mickey Mouse "O Sole Minnie" by Paul Rudish (USA) Venice looked more like Las Vegas, Mickey wasn't charming and Minnie had no motivation.
****The Unknown Known
by Errol Morris (USA) - I thought it was brilliant. I wrote about it HERE
**1/2 Harlock: Space Pirate [3D] by Shinji Aramaki (Japan) Great for tweenage boys.
: "...this is a glorious marshaling of state-of-the-art technical expertise that boasts topnotch stereoscopy, but the portentous script is too nerdy to cross over to the mainstream"
*Under The Skin by Jonathan Glazer (UK) - I have not so disliked a movie in many years. Except for Scarlett Johansson's body, it was utterly boring.
From The Independent: "Even Scarlett Johansson can't save Jonathan Glazer's laughably bad alien hitchhiker movie" ***1/2 Une Promesse (A Promise) by Patrice Leconte (France, Belgium) Restrained performances and a romantic script make this a French film worth seeing -- especially because it's in English and it stars Alan Rickman. Nobody else seemed to like it but me -- and the New York Times:
"It is a pity that this artfully directed and subtly acted drama is not eligible for these awards, for which it would have been a worthy candidate." (Ha! I just read the entire article and mumbled to myself: "I have the same taste as this writer" -- and then saw it was Roderick Conway Morris, who is based here in Venice and whom I've know for years.)
Another p.o.v., from Variety: "Led by a trio of lackluster performances from Alan Rickman, Rebecca Hall and “Game of Thrones” thesp Richard Madden, this awkward, passionless drama conveys neither the sensuality nor the drawn-out sense of longing required by its period tale of a young secretary who falls in love with his employer’s wife."
***1/2 Walesa. Man of Hope by Andrzej Wajda (Poland) An enjoyable history lesson about Lech Walesa, one of the world's most dynamic and unlikely leaders -- proof that even an electrician can become the president of a country.
***1/2 Amazonia [3D] by Thierry Ragobert (France, Brazil) - if a monkey could win best actor, it should go to this adorable creature who plays a domesticated capuchin monkey that lands in the Amazon rain forest after a plane crash. The film will leave you wondering how they ever shot it.
From Variety: "Kids and adults mature enough to handle mild animal peril will be duly enchanted by this universally distributable picture."
|The Ukraine is Not a Brothel Photocall|
***Ukraine is Not a Brothel by Kitty Green Australian filmmaker Kitty Green followed Femen, the radical Ukrainian "feminists" who bared their breasts to protest a patriarchal society, and discovered there was a man behind the scenes.
Venezia Salva by Serena Nono (Venice) - is a film with non-professional actors who are guests in one of Venice's homeless shelters. Loosely based on Simone Weil's unfinished play, "Venice Saved," Serena takes us behind the facades of Venice as only a local girl can. I wrote about the filming of the story last year HERE.
Ciao from Venezia,
|The Armstrong Lie by Alex Gibney|
(Venice, Italy) Yesterday, I saw The ARMSTRONG Lie,
Alex Gibney's documentary about Lance Armstrong, and started writing this post. Then I saw The UNKNOWN KNOWN
, Errol Morris' documentary about Donald Rumsfeld. Armstrong and Rumsfeld have so much in common, it was riveting to watch. They are not only trying to manipulate everyone around them, THEY ARE LYING TO THEMSELVES
and don't seem to have the slightest clue they are doing it. Both are arrogant, both are bullies, and both keep trying to rewrite their own narratives. Just the fact that both were willing to go on camera and allow the world to see their profound character flaws illustrates how deeply in denial they continue to live.
Now, of course, human beings must
live in denial because we are all going to die, and if we really thought about that, we would all just jump in the lagoon. But these two public figures (and there are many, many lesser creatures I have encountered who are of a similar ilk) take Livin' da Lie to new heights. These two want to ramrod their lies on the rest of the world.
|The Unknown Known by Errol Morris|
But what really struck me is that neither of them would have been able to get away with the immensity of their lies if they didn't have enormous, powerful organizations behind them, and a whole bunch of people who profited from their lies. Both men are the public faces of organized crime.
And now both men are the subject of documentaries by Academy Award-winning filmmakers.
|The ARMSTRONG Lie|
"I didn't live a lot of lies, but I lived one big one." In 2008, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney set out to make a documentary about Lance Armstrong's comeback to the world of competitive cycling.
Personally, the sport held no interest for me, but in May of 2009, the Giro d'Italia was held in Venice -- out here on the Lido where I sit right now, typing, as a matter of fact. A fellow I was dating was one of the timekeepers, so I came out to the race. The entire scene was surreal. Much of the crowd was made up of off-duty American military, who were peeved that they were not allowed behind the scenes. As the day went on, I found myself standing directly behind Lance Armstrong. I wrote about the experience here:
Gibney said he made two films -- the one about Armstrong's comeback that was never released, and this one. The original agreement was that he would have unprecedented access to Lance -- who would take a cut of the movie's "back end" in exchange -- as Armstrong set out to prove that he was still the best cyclist in the world.
Gibney said he had heard and seen so much that the only way to get the information across was to put himself in the story, and that so much was Lance Armstrong "lying to my face." He said he was naive, but not stupid, and knew about the doping charges, but really believed that Armstrong was clean in 2009. Gibney said that when you're close to someone, you start to root for them, and he was rooting for Armstrong in 2009. When he found out the truth, there was a disappointment, and "I was pissed off."
|The ARMSTRONG Lie|
:“This is not a story about doping; it’s a story about power,” one interviewee shrewdly notes, and “The Armstrong Lie” zeroes in on the cynical realities of a sport where victory falls to those with the best medical and financial resources, and where the lure of sponsorships, massive publicity and millions of dollars in cancer-fighting research can encourage even the head of the Intl. Cycling Union to look the other way. The film also taps into the warped mentality of a professional sport where everyone of consequence is assumed to be doping under a code of collective silence, making it easy enough for a cheater to convince himself he isn’t gaining an unfair advantage so much as staying competitive.
After the movie, I asked Gibney if Lance Armstrong still gets a cut of the film's back end. Gibney nodded. "He does."
|The Unknown Known|
Watching Donald Rumsfeld's mind work was like taking a trip through the Looking Glass. In fact, Danny Elfman wrote the score for The Unknown Known
, which made listening to Rummie even more rabbit-holey. Academy Award-winning director Errol Morris focuses on Rumsfeld's "snowflakes," what Rummie calls the tens of thousands of "white paper" memos he wrote throughout his career.
|Rumsfeld, Ford, Cheney|
As the film went on, I realized that Rumsfeld and his big-business buddies have been influencing the United States government most of my life. At the age of 30, he was elected to Congress in 1962, and hand-picked by Richard Nixon for a Cabinet-level position at age 37. When he was Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1969-70, he brought the 28-year-old Dick Cheney on board. Among his other positions, he was Secretary of Defense under both Ford and George W. Bush. The documentary makes it clear how Rumsfeld controlled the Ford White House, and had presidential ambitions himself.
And for nearly 50 years, Rumsfeld wrote thousands and thousands of memos -- snowflakes -- and whipped them off to everybody -- his staff, his colleagues, even the president. When he was forced out of the government in 2006, he wrote a snowflake for everyone -- including those who may never have gotten a memo before -- informing them that the blizzard had stopped. Morris uses these memos to delve into Rumsfeld's mind. When asked if he had been manipulated by Rumsfeld, Morris said that the documentary was a portrait of a person, and he much preferred to let Rumsfeld contradict himself, which he does endlessly. He becomes lost in a sea of words. "I do not think that Rumsfeld has been left off the hook."
The snowflakes are freaky, as is Rumsfeld's obsession with the dictionary definition of words, his dictionary of preference being the Pentagon Dictionary, not Websters. (Why does it not surprise me to learn that the Pentagon has its own dictionary?) To make the case to invade Iraq, Rumsfeld says, "The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."
According to Rumsfeld, Pearl Harbor was a "failure of imagination." He seems to believe that the USA has an obligation to imagine every insane thing that every nut job on the planet can imagine, and then act to prevent it
. You imagine the worst, and treat it as if it's really going to happen.
Morris says that what he found fascinating about Rumsfeld was his use of philosophy, and his obsession with words. Not just the way he manipulates other people, but also manipulates himself
. During the press conference, Morris agreed that many politicians say one thing one day and something different the next, but he found Rumsfeld unique: "Within seconds
he can say the exact opposite of what he just said. I found it strange."
The film opens with Rumsfeld reading a memo:
"There are known knowns.
There are known unknowns.
There are unknown unknowns.
But there are also unknown knowns -- that is to say, things that you think you know that it turns out you did not."
By the end of the film, Rumsfeld will declare that the memo is backwards, and that the real definition of unknown knowns is: "things that you possibly may know that you don't know you know."
I thought the film was genius. Because it is not only a glimpse into the mind of Donald Rumsfeld, it is a glimpse into the scary apparatus of the United States of America itself.
Ciao from Venezia,
CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog
|Judi Dench & Steve Coogan in PHILOMENA |
(Venice, Italy) There are few things more delightful than watching a film with no expectations, and slowly realizing that you are witnessing a cinematic triumph. When a theater full of jaded journalists weep together, laugh together, applaud together; when an entire theater shares a deeply moving human experience, you know you've got a hit.
PHILOMENA is the real name of a real Irishwoman, Philomena Lee (played to perfection by Judi Dench), an unwed mother whose son, Antony, was sold by Catholic nuns to wealthy Americans back in the 1950s, a secret she kept from even her own daughter until what would have been Antony's 50th birthday. It is the story of Philomena's quest to find Antony with the help of real-life journalist, Martin Sixsmith, played by Steve Coogan, who also co-wrote the screenplay.
If you were seeking a guaranteed recipe for box-office success, casting Judi Dench as a sweet little old Irish lady trying to track down the son she was forced into giving up for adoption decades earlier sounds like the winning ingredient. Add in Steve Coogan as an acerbic British journalist enlisted in her search, helping to steer the story away from the swamp of sentiment, and the fact that it's based on a true story, and you have Stephen Frears' triumphant, warm-hearted crowd-pleaser "Philomena". The Weinstein Company will undoubtedly feel they have a potential hit on their hands with the emotive, funny "Philomena", and Coogan, Frears and, in particular, Dench all look destined for oodles of awards-season love.
|Judi Dench & Steve Coogan|
What a bunch of wise old pros. Could the Brits actually be waking up, ready to take the lead? Stephen Frears, the director, Judi Dench, the actress, Steve Coogan, the actor and co-writer, and Jeff Pope, co-writer, were all here in Venice. Judi Dench had met Philomena, who is now 80-years-old, several times and said they shared a similar sense of humor -- which is important because what really makes the movie work is Philomena's amusing observations of life. Wondering what her son might look like now, she says: "What if he's obese? A lot of Americans are."
From The Guardian
:As for Dench, she's purely wonderful. Surely nobody else could have taken Philomena's rambling preçis of a romantic novel and turned it into such a masterpiece of comic timing - a spluttering, absurdist pastoral that's all the more impressive for being delivered at speed while travelling backwards through the airport aboard an electric cart.
Throughout the press conference, Stephen Frears expressed his desire that the Pope see the film. "He seems rather a good bloke, the Pope."
|Pope Francis' Twitter Selfie|
PHILOMENA. Coming soon to a theater near you.
Ciao from Venezia,
CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog
|Lindsay Lohan in The Canyons|
(Venice, Italy) Lindsay Lohan didn't show up for the press conference of The Canyons, which was a disappointment because she was the best thing in the film. At the opening of the press conference, Paul Schrader declared: "Today I am a free man. For the last 16 months I've been hostage, by own choosing, to a very talented but unpredictable actress. She was supposed to be here today, she said she would be, but she is not."To me, from the audience point of view, what was wrong with The Canyons was not Lindsay Lohan, but the rest of the cast, James Deen in particular -- not to mention the script. I once saw a tee-shirt that I loved: A D.J. IS NOT A ROCK STAR. Well, a porn star is not a movie star, either. James Deen seems to be a nice enough guy, but he can't hold the screen. Brett Easton Ellis took the credit for the casting, saying that he insisted that James Deen get the lead, which is also what the film is about -- an actor who gets the lead in a low-budget film at someone's insistence. Schrader said that he and Ellis were "not on the same page, but we're in the same book." AMERICAN GIGOLO meets LESS THAN ZERO, they are a generation apart. Ellis said he wrote the script specifically for Schrader and that it was a "cold, dead film about cold, dead people," which might not float everyone's boat, but "we are fascinated by that." He sounded a bit peeved that critics these days demand a more humanistic view of the world.(Personally, I find cold, dead people utterly boring. I much prefer warm, living people who are creative, not destructive. All you have to do to break a glass is drop it. To create a glass requires a hell of a lot more work.) James Deen was almost sweet in his naivete about Hollywood: "People have issues with honesty. They have a different form of thinking. Not everybody is Brett and Paul. There are a lot of horrible people."
The Canyons really is not as bad as everyone is making it out to be. The budget was $150,000-$200,000, and it shows. It was set in Los Angeles, and it is always fun to watch my old town in the movies, seeing what has changed, and what remains the same. The sex scene was not pornographic; in fact, I thought it was one of the best scenes in the movie. During a foursome, Tara, (Lohan) deftly conquers the power from Christian (Deen). She, not he, takes over the orchestration of the scene, much to the bewilderment of Christian, who usually gets off on being in control. His loss of power was one of the few genuine reactions by Deen, who seemed right at home among the naked writhing bodies -- it was his comfort zone, and he came alive. For a brief moment, you could glimpse what Brett Easton Ellis saw -- but for only a fleeting moment.
|Lindsay Lohan & James Deen|
From The Guardian:Would it be redundant to mention that the acting is awful? These people are unconvincing as people, and that may well be the point. Ellis's dialogue is so stilted and overwritten that it reduces the performers to gabbling wrecks, rushing headlong at their lines with an air of wild-eyed desperation. All of which is of a piece, but that doesn't make it good. Near the end of the film, sleazy Christian takes a drive into town for a meeting with the director Gus Van Sant, who apparently moonlights as a sensitive shrink. The two men sit inside a quiet, book-lined study as Christian outlines his various issues. "We're all actors, aren't we?" he asks the director. But Van Sant won't be drawn. He responds with a frown and his silence speaks volumes.
Meanwhile, Lohan's people have issued statements that “Saturday Night Live has approached Lindsay to host the show again, and they were talking about the season opener,”and “Lindsay is doing really, really well. She is going to business meetings and she’s been on time for every single one of them. This is the best I’ve seen her in years.”What a crew.
Like the sad foursome in the film, Lohan, Schrader, Ellis and Deen hit rock bottom together in The Canyons, a mechanical group orgy without hope or soul. Hopefully, their individual talents are strong enough to allow them to find genuine passion once again.
|Brett Easton Ellis, James Deen, Paul Schrader, Tenille Houston (not Lohan)|
Ciao from Venezia,CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog
|Sandra Bullock & George Clooney on Red Carpet - Venice Film Festival|
(Venice, Italy) [UPDATED 8-30-13] Prediction: GRAVITY will be a blockbuster.
Seriously. I have not been on a roller coaster ride like that for years. Visually, the film is mind-blowing. See it in 3D, or even better, in IMAX, and you will be
in outer space. There are a couple of scenes when the dialogue is a little too on-the-nose, but that's a minor quibble. From Variety
:As scripted by [Alfonso] Cuaron and his son Jonas, this tale of one woman’s grim expedition into the unknown is a nerve-shredding suspenser, a daring study in extreme isolation, and one of the most sophisticated and enveloping visions of space travel yet realized onscreen. It falls among that increasingly rare breed of popular entertainments capable of prompting genuine “How did they do that?” reactions from even the most jaded viewers, even as its central premise is so simple and immediately gripping that one might just as readily ask, “Why didn’t anyone do it sooner?”
|Heyman, Bullock, A. Cuaron, Clooney, J. Cuaron Photo: La Biennale|
The core team was here in Venice: The stars, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock; the director, Alfonso Cuaron, and his son, Jonas, who share writing credit, and the producer, David Heyman, who produced all eight HARRY POTTER films.
During the press conference, Alfonso and Jonas Cuaron spoke about the script. Jonas had written it years ago; then the financial crisis hit, and the film fell apart. He wanted to place two characters in a hostile environment in order to overcome adversities. And there is no better metaphor for adversity than floating, untethered, through space. What defines us is the after-effect that adversity has on us. How do we handle adversity? He wanted a stripped-down narrative and to rely on the development of the characters so that it would not only be a movie that grabbed you on the edge of your seat for 90 minutes, but at the same time juggle with something bigger.
GRAVITY is inspired by the Kesler Syndrome. From Wikipedia
:The Kessler syndrome, proposed by the NASA scientist Donald J. Kessler in 1978, is a scenario in which the density of objects in low Earth orbit (LEO) is high enough that collisions between objects could cause a cascade – each collision generating space debris which increases the likelihood of further collisions. One implication is that the distribution of debris in orbit could render space exploration, and even the use of satellites, infeasible for many generations.
In other words, there is so much stuff floating around up there -- satellites, telescopes, space stations and whatnot -- that if something goes wrong with one object, the whole thing could go down.
Bullock and Clooney both looked great, especially super-toned Bullock, who is 49-years-old (and is a Leo, born one day before and a few years after me:). They were asked if they did special training.
CLOONEY: Sandy had a trainer. I drank my way through.
|Photo: La Biennale|
BULLOCK: (Joking) I drank my way through, too.
When I heard the words "wire systems," I knew I needed a lot of training. I wanted my character to look a certain way... not "androgynous," but to remove the feminine, maternal aspects. I wanted my body to be a machine. It was a lot of training, but it was worth it. I'm not great at anything, but I'm good at lots of little things, and this role allowed me to use those things. I was a dancer, and a gymnast, and my parents were opera singers. The soundtrack helped me get the emotions.
Someone said they wanted to ask Clooney two questions:
QUESTION #1 - Why did you make this movie?
CLOONEY: I liked the character. If you're lucky enough in this business to get to make choices, then it comes down to three things: the script, the director, and the other actors. You can't make a good film out of bad script, but you can make a bad film out of a good script. I have a lot of respect for Alfonso, and I have been friends with Sandy for many years.
QUESTION #2 - Do you think Barack Obama should send troops to Syria?
CLOONEY: And here I thought the second question would be what I thought about Ben Affleck playing Batman!
Needless to say, Clooney did not answer the second question.
Bullock said that she had the opportunity to speak with the astronauts on the International Space Station, and that the cell phone signal works great to space. She said she was most impressed with the reason they are up there: because they care deeply about life, and our life.
Someone said that they had heard that George Clooney had gotten a satellite, and now that he was here in person, he wanted to know if it was true or just gossip.
CLOONEY: Yes, I have one, and I am watching you
I have a satellite to keep an eye on the atrocities in Sudan and South Sudan. And it seems to be working. Now they only do things at night or under cloud cover. Next, it will be infrared. Whatever it takes. ...And we are
|Paolo Baratta, Pres. of La Biennale, Sandra Bullock, Giorgione Orsoni, Mayor of Venice, Alberto Barbera, Dir. of Cinema|
More reviews:The Guardian: The Venice film festival lands on its feet with a brilliant opening night thriller which sees Sandra Bullock and George Clooney flailing in space and director Alfonso Cuarón masterfully steering the shipThe Hollywood Reporter:At once the most realistic and beautifully choreographed film ever set in space, Gravity is a thrillingly realized survival story spiked with interludes of breath-catching tension and startling surprise. Not at all a science fiction film in the conventional sense, Alfonso Cuaron's first feature in seven years has no aliens, space ship battles or dystopian societies, just the intimate spectacle of a man and a woman trying to cope in the most hostile possible environment across a very tight 90 minutes. World premiered at the Venice Film Festival, with Telluride showings following quickly on its heels, this Warner Bros. release is smart but not arty, dramatically straightforward but so dazzlingly told as to make it a benchmark in its field. Graced by exemplary 3D work and bound to look great in IMAX, the film seems set to soar commercially around the world. The IndependentA decade after collaborating on Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2003), Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron and British producer David Heyman have combined forces again on Gravity, a 3D survival thriller set in deepest, darkest space. The new film (which opens the Venice Film Festival) is a visual triumph even if its storytelling is less than sure-footed.
GRAVITY opens on October 4, 2013, and will be released in 3D, 2D and IMAX, and is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Ciao from Venezia,
CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog
|Santa Maria Assunta (Interior) - Torcello|
(Venice, Italy) It seems that every year August 15th is a glorious day here in Venice, both in terms of the weather and in spirit. Yesterday the temperature dropped, and we had strong winds and rain, as if the heavens themselves were sweeping the earth fresh and new for today, Assumption Day, the day that Mary Went Up to Heaven. Today it is sunny and warm, but not too hot, with plenty of pleasant, polite people, but not too crowded. Today Venice is just right.
If you are a long-time reader of Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog
, you will know I have written about this day several times before.
|Tower of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta as seen from Venice lagoon|
Here is an excerpt from 2011, a year I wrote an extremely
long post:"The influence of the divine female energy upon Italy -- Venice in particular -- cannot be underestimated. Before Venice came into power, another island in the lagoon, the island of Torcello, was settled first.
After the fall of the western Roman Empire, a wondrous city grew up on Torcello, which was a distant outpost of the Byzantine Empire, trading with Constantinople. One of the most important things to know about Venice is that it did not exist when the empire was based in Rome. It came into existence when the Roman empire was based in Constantinople and called the Byzantium Empire. We can imagine that some clever, enlightened people, free from the direct rule of an empire, built up Torcello before the emperor in Constantinople figured out what was going on. About the same time, the story goes, authorities from Padua founded Venice proper at Rialto on Friday, March 25, 421 at twelve-o'clock noon. Eventually these islands in the Venetian lagoon would become what we now know as Venice.
There are all sorts of stories and myths about how Venice was created. I like to believe that she -- because everyone agrees that Venice is female -- was born from divine female energy, just as a divine Mary gave birth to the Son of God. To this day on the island of Torcello, there is a church called the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, or the Cathedral of the Assumption of St. Mary that was first founded in 639. Instead of Christ over the altar, we have Mary. The late Pope John Paul came from Venice and startled the world when he proclaimed that 'He (God) is our father; even more, he is our mother.' This celebration of divine female energy is something else that sets the European culture apart."
|Torcello - Santa Maria Assunta|
To read the entire post, click here:
Today was a true La Serenissima day. Happy Ferragosto!
Ciao from Venezia,
(Venice, Italy) The Academy Award-winning director, William Friedkin, best known for directing The French Connection
and The Exorcist
, will be honored with Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 70th Venice International Film Festival. Friedkin said that The Sorcerer
(1977) was his favorite film, and believes that it didn't do as well as it should have at the box office because it was competing against Star Wars
. Well, soon we will get the chance to see it here at the Venice Film Festival because it's getting another breath of life 36 years later.
Many people have asked about the screening schedule for the public for the 70th Venice International Film Festival. It is now up on the La Biennale website
Every so often my German-American brain tries to organize things in a different way than the byzantine method used here in Venice. So, in addition to the previous post in which I listed all the American films competing
in the festival, I am now going to list the additional American films showing
at the festival, by category. It was quite a project, and I hope I got them all. If any film catches your eye, go to the La Biennale website
and flip through the screening schedule
until you find the day it is playing. If the film was a joint US production together with another country, I listed it, as did with the previous post about the films in competition that you can read here: OUTERSPACE EXPLOSION! What's Playing on the Lido - 70th Venice Film Festival 2013
AMERICAN FILMS - OUT OF COMPETITION
Important works by directors already established in previous editions of the Festival
ALFONSO CUARÓN - GRAVITY
George Clooney, Sandra Bullock
SALVO CUCCIA - CUCCIA - SUMMER 82 WHEN ZAPPA CAME TO SICILY [SPECIAL SCREENINGS]
Italy, Usa, 80'
Gail Zappa, Moon Zappa, Diva Zappa, Dweezil Zappa, Mathilda Doucette, Megan Zappa, Massimo Bassoli, Steve Vai, Tanino Liberatore, Thomas Nordegg
The docu is dedicated to Frank Zappa and his concert at the Stadio della Favorita in Palermo in July of 82, which was interrupted after only twenty minutes due to clashes between the police and the public.
ALEX GIBNEY - THE ARMSTRONG LIE [SPECIAL SCREENINGS]
From the NY Times
: "Sony Pictures Classics said in a news release that Mr. Gibney spent four years following Mr. Armstrong, starting in 2009, as he returned from retirement and unsuccessfully pursued another Tour de France title. “Unexpectedly,” the release said, “Gibney was also there in 2012 when Armstrong admitted to doping, following a federal criminal investigation, public accusations of doping by his ex-teammates and an investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.” The film project that “began as the chronicle of a comeback became an examination into the anatomy of a lie.”"
PAUL RUDISH, AARON SPRINGER, CLAY MORROW - DISNEY MICKEY MOUSE 'O SOLE MINNIE
We can only imagine what this short short is about:)
PAUL SCHRADER - THE CANYONS
Lindsay Lohan, James Deen, Nolan Gerard Funk, Gus Van Sant
FREDERICK WISEMAN - AT BERKELEY [SPECIAL SCREENINGS]
The acclaimed documentary filmmaker is still going strong at age 83. This time his eye is on the Berkeley Campus.
AMERICAN FILMS - HORIZONS (ORIZZONTI)
The new trends in world cinema
GIA COPPOLA - PALO ALTO
Emma Roberts, Jack Kilmer, James Franco, Val Kilmer, Keegan Allen, Nat Wolff, Colleen Camp
Granddaughter of Francis Ford and niece of Sofia, Gia Coppola gives it a shot.
JONAS CUARÓN - ANINGAAQ
Orto Ignatiussen, Lajla Lange, Maligiaq Fredeik, Lange Siegstad, Sandra Bullock (voice)
ANDREA PALLAORO - MEDEAS
USA, Italy, 98'
Catalina Sandino Moreno, Brían F. O'Byrne
TI WEST - THE SACRAMENT
Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Kentucker Audley, Amy Seimetz, Gene Jones
From The Horror Society
: From acclaimed writer/director Ti West
(The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers
) and horror master Eli Roth
, The Sacrament
follows two Vice media correspondents as they set out to document their friend’s search to find his missing sister. They travel outside of the United States to an undisclosed location where they are welcomed into the world of “Eden Parish,” a self-sustained rural utopia with nearly 200 members. At the center of this small, religious, socialist community is a mysterious leader known only as “Father.” As their friend reunites with his sister, it becomes apparent to the newcomers that this paradise may not be as it seems.
AMERICAN FILMS - VENICE CLASSICS
A selection of restored classic films and documentaries on cinema
CHANTAL AKERMAN - HÔTEL MONTEREY (1972)
Belgium, Usa, 65'
: "Under Chantal Akerman’s watchful eye, a cheap Manhattan hotel glows with mystery and unexpected beauty, its corridors, elevators, rooms, windows, and occasional occupants framed like Edward Hopper tableaux."
RAY ASHLEY, MORRIS ENGEL, RUTH ORKIN - LITTLE FUGITIVE (1953)
Richard Brewster, Winifred Cushing, Jay Williams
Little Fugitive won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1953.From Wikipedia:
is a 1953 film written and directed by Raymond Abrashkin
(as "Ray Ashley"), Morris Engel
and Ruth Orkin
, that tells the story of a child alone in Coney Island
. It stars Richie Andrusco in the title role, and Richard Brewster as his brother Lennie. Little Fugitive
influenced the French New Wave
and is considered by modern day critics to be a landmark film because of its naturalistic style and groundbreaking use of nonprofessional actors in lead roles. It was nominated for an Academy Award
for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story
and screened at Venice film festival
where it was awarded with the silver lion. In 1997, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry
by the Library of Congress
as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant"."JOHN FORD - MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946)
Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, Victor Mature
: "My Darling Clementine
is a 1946 Western
directed by John Ford
and starring Henry Fonda
as Wyatt Earp
during the Gunfight at the OK Corral
. The ensemble cast also features Linda Darnell
, Victor Mature
, Walter Brennan
, Tim Holt
and Ward Bond
."WILLIAM FRIEDKIN - SORCERER (1977)
Roy Scheider, Bruno Cremer, Francisco Rabal
: "The director William Friedkin considers Sorcerer
most personal and the most difficult film he has ever made.
He thought at the time that it would become his legacy.
After a lengthy lawsuit filed against Paramount and Universal Studios, Friedkin is supervising a digital restoration of Sorcerer
, with the new print set to be premiered at the 70th Venice International Film Festival
on August 29, 2013 (Friedkin's birthday, coincidentally).
Home video releases are also in the works."SAMANTHA FULLER - A FULLER LIFE [DOCUMENTARIES]
Usa, 80'I was perplexed as to why this 2013 documentary that Samantha Fuller made to honor her filmmaker father, Sam Fuller, is listed under "classics;" perhaps it's because the clips are from Sam Fuller's flicks? From IMDb: Friends and admirers of iconoclastic film director Sam Fuller read from his memoirs in this unconventional documentary directed by Fuller's only child, Samantha.IRVING PICHEL, ERNEST B. SCHOEDSACK - THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932)
Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong
Ah, they don't make 'em like they used to. From IMDb
: "An insane hunter arranges for a ship to be wrecked on an island where he can indulge in some sort of hunting and killing of the passengers."
BRUCE WEBER - NICE GIRLS DON'T STAY FOR BREAKFAST (WORK IN PROGRESS) [DOCUMENTARIES] BRUCE WEBER - LET'S GET LOST (1988)
Chet Baker, Carol Baker, Vera Baker
: "A group of Baker fans, ranging from ex-associates to ex-wives and children, talk about the man. Weber’s film traces the man’s career from the 1950s, playing with jazz greats like Charlie Parker
, Gerry Mulligan
, and Russ Freeman
, to the 1980s, when his heroin addiction and domestic indifference kept him in Europe. By juxtaposing these two decades, Weber presents a sharp contrast between the younger, handsome Baker — the statuesque idol who resembled a mix of James Dean
and Jack Kerouac
— to what he became, “a seamy looking drugstore cowboy-cum
-derelict,” as J. Hoberman
put it in his Village Voice
Usa, 30'DON WEIS - THE ADVENTURES OF HAJJI BABA (1954)
John Derek, Elaine Stewart, Amanda Blake
Trivia from Wikipedia
: "Playboy Playmates and pin-up models were cast in the female roles. Amanda Blake
, 1955-1974 "Miss Kitty Russell" on Gunsmoke
. Paul Picerni
, 1959-1963 "Federal Agent Lee Hobson" on The Untouchables
The 70th Venice International Film Festival, organized by La Biennale di Venezia,and directed by Alberto Barbera
, will run on Venice Lido from 28th August to 7th September 2013
Ciao from Venezia,
CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog
|GRAVITY - Sandra Bullock & George Clooney|
(Venice, Italy) Whenever George Clooney arrives in Venice his wattage lights up the entire town, which is why it's excellent news that Alfonso Cuaron’s long-awaited Gravity
will open the 70th edition of the Venice International Film Festival. Also starring another Hollywood-great, Sandra Bullock, the human stars are adrift amongst the celestial stars after a space explosion -- in 3D! Could there be a more awesome film to kick off the festival?!
The entire Venice Film Festival line-up was announced last week in Rome, the USA showing a strong presence with 18 feature films in the official selection, seven in competition. If you are a long-time reader of Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog
, you will know that I love Hollywood (after having lived there for many years), and am an unabashed flag-waving American patriot when it comes to American films on the Lido. In addition, I think George Clooney is a very wise man, in addition to being gorgeous, charming and witty, so I am very much looking forward to this year's festival.
I've read different numbers about how many US films are in competition, and the discrepancy seems to be if you include Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem
and Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin,
which are joint UK, USA productions. I say, let's include 'em because those are two very cool Brits. Terry Gilliam has always been one of my favorites, and the plot of The Zero Theorem
sounds right up his alley. Whenever life becomes too ridiculous, we must be thankful that Terry Gilliam is still on the planet to set things straight. From Wikipedia
:Qohen Leth is an eccentric and reclusive computer genius who lives in an Orwellian corporate world and suffers from existential angst. Under the instruction of a shadowy figure known only as "Management", Qohen works to solve the "Zero Theorem" – a mathematical formula which will finally determine whether life has any meaning. Qohen's work in the burnt-out chapel that serves as his home is interrupted by visits from Bainsley, a seductive woman, and Bob, the teenage son of Management.Under the Skin
directed by Jonathan Glazer is based on the sci-fi novel by Michael Faber where human beings are an extraterrestrial delicacy. Yum! Scarlet Johansson stars. From Wikipedia
:The protagonist is Isserley, an extraterrestrial sent to Earth by a rich corporation on her planet to pick up unwary hitchhikers. She drugs them and delivers them to her compatriots, who mutilate and fatten her victims so that they can be turned into meat—human ("vodsel") flesh is a delicacy on the aliens' barren homeworld. The novel is darkly satirical. It touches on political themes around big business, intensive farming, and environmental decay; and reflects on more personal questions of sexual identity, humanity, snobbery, and mercy.
The five USA films are:
1. Child of God
directed by James Franco, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy:Set in mountainous Sevier County, Tennessee, in the 1960s, Child of God tells the story of Lester Ballard, a dispossessed, violent man whom the narrator describes as "a child of God much like yourself perhaps." Ballard's life is a disastrous attempt to exist outside the social order. Successively deprived of parents and homes and with few other ties, Ballard descends literally and figuratively to the level of a cave dweller as he falls deeper into crime and degradation.
, directed by David Gordon Green and starring Nicolas Cage, based on the novel by Larry Brown. From the Hollywood Reporter
:Joe tells the story of an ex-con who becomes the unlikeliest of role models to 15-year-old Gary Jones, the oldest child of a homeless family ruled by a drunk, worthless father. Together they try to find a path to redemption and the hope for a better life in the rugged, dirty world of small town Mississippi.
directed by Peter Landesman. From Wikipedia
:Parkland is an upcoming drama film directed by Peter Landesman, and produced by Guy East, Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Nigel Sinclair. It will star Zac Efron, Tom Welling, James Badge Dale, Paul Giamatti, Jacki Weaver, Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Bob Thornton, Marcia Gay Harden and Bitsie Tulloch. It will follow the events that occurred at Parkland Memorial Hospital after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. It is scheduled to be shown in the main competition section of the 70th Venice International Film Festival and at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.4. The Unknown Known,
directed by Academy-Award winner Errol Morris, a documentary about Donald Rumsfeld.The Unknown Known (also known as The Unknown Known: The Life and Times of Donald Rumsfeld) is an upcoming American documentary film directed by Errol Morris. It has been selected to be screened in the main competition section at the 70th Venice International Film Festival.
5. Night Moves by Kelly Reichardt. From Wikipedia
:Deadline.com described the film as about "three radical environmentalists who come together to execute the most spectacular direct action event of their lives: the explosion of a hydroelectric dam.
Sounds like an intriguing bunch of entries from the States, especially because the President of this year's jury is the world famous Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci, who directed one of my favorite films of all times, Last Tango in Paris
Ciao from Venezia,
CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog
(Venice, Italy) Today is the third Sunday in July, which can only mean one thing: the Festa del Redentore, or the Feast of the Redeemer, when Venice celebrates its redemption from the plague. The celebration has been going on for 436 years, starting back in 1577.
In terms of history, Venice was going through some intense times. In August 1571, they lost their wealthy colony, Famagusta
, on Cyprus to the Ottoman Turks, who brutally tortured and flayed alive Marcantonio Bragadin, the Venetian Captain of the Kingdom of Cyprus -- today his skin is here in Venice in the Church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo. This sparked the famous Battle of Lepanto
on October 7, 1571 when Pope Pius V sent the Holy League to rescue the Venetian colony from the Turks. The Christians won, preventing the Ottoman Empire from expanding further along the European side of the Mediterranean, but Venice did lose Cyprus.
|Church of the Redentore|
Then between 1575 and 1577, Venice was ravaged by the plague, which wiped out nearly 50,000 people, almost a third of the population. The Venetians became convinced it was divine punishment for their sins. Desperate, powerless to stop it, in the midst of the desolation, on September 4, 1576, the Venetian Senate voted to ask the Redeemer, or the Redentore, for help, vowing to build a magnificent temple in thanksgiving. They commissioned the great architect, Andrea Palladio, to design the church, and on May 3, 1577 the Patriarch of Venice laid the cornerstone. And it worked! Just two months later, on July 13, 1577, the plague was declared officially over. After it was consecrated in 1592, the Church of Redentore was placed in the charge of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. Every year the Doge, the Patriarch and the Senate walked across a pontoon bridge to attend Mass on the third Sunday in July, grateful for all the good they had received.
Now, 436 years later, the same celebration continues. Venice continues to sin, and needs yearly redemption as much as ever. Venice no longer has a Doge and a Senate, but we have a mayor, and the Patriarch and the Capuchins are still around. The evening before the third Sunday in July, the Venetians throw an enormous party, with people from all over the Veneto arriving in their boats to watch a stupendous fireworks display. The fondamenta
on the Giudecca is lined with tables heaped with traditional food. Terraces and balconies are filled with revelers; Piazzo San Marco is jammed with tourists to watch the show.
This year, according to Il Gazzettino
, the local paper, more than 120,000 people viewed the fireworks in more than 2,000 boats, which, in addition to the typical Venetian boats, included "speed boats, yachts and super-yachts" prompting Mayor Giorgio Orsoni to declare that "false friends" of Venice would have the world believe that Venice was dying, when, in fact, the city was alive and enthusiastic.
Venice has been through many tough times throughout history, but somehow manages to keep on keeping on. Just that Venice exists is impossible, a city with streets of water, a labyrinth to be navigated, filled with heavenly architecture and precious art. More than four centuries ago, when human beings were powerless to stop it, the Redeemer saved the population from the deadly plague. In remembrance, the Festa del Redentore celebrates the ongoing life of Venice, and the Church of Redentore stands as an awesome monument of thanksgiving.
Ciao from Venezia,
CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog
|"Accusers" from Ai Weiwei's S.A.C.R.E.D. (2011-2013)|
(Venice, Italy) Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist, was deeply affected by the Great Sichuan Earthquake that occurred on May 12, 2008, killing nearly 70,000 people. More than 5,000 of the dead were schoolchildren who died as a result of the shoddy construction of their classrooms -- part of China's economic boom. Back then, Ai Weiwei strongly criticized the Chinese government for not providing an official tally of the names and numbers of the dead schoolchildren, and set about gathering his own record.
This is from Art Asia Pacific Magazine
way back in July/August 2009, detailing the censorship and harassment of Ai Weiwei and his mother -- in fact, the harassment of anyone who stuck their nose into the details of the earthquake:
The Chinese government rarely makes concessions to its citizens, especially when it involves allegations of governmental mismanagement and the actions of artist Ai Weiwei. However, the government’s unexpected announcement on May 5 that 5,335 students died in last year’s Sichuan earthquake appears to have been in response to efforts by Ai Weiwei and other Chinese activists to call the government into account for the deaths. This was the first official figure released in what has become a politically sensitive issue following accusations from parents that substandard construction caused the collapse of more than 7,000 classrooms in the region. ...... Ai’s 76-year-old mother recently became a target of police attention as well. On May 26, four plainclothes policemen entered her home in eastern Beijing and interrogated her about Ai’s residence near the airport. She then phoned her son, who was attending a reception at the American Embassy for United States congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. After receiving her call, Ai rushed home. When the officers in his mother’s house refused to present identification, Ai dialed the emergency number 110. Additional police officers soon arrived and all parties went to the local police station to file a report, a copy of which was never provided to the artist. ...
|Ai & the Dead Schoolchildren|
...On the morning of May 26, a post on Ai’s blog called for volunteers with engineering and technical expertise to aid in a “construction standards investigation,” a future Sichuan earthquake-related initiative. The post suggests that the privately conducted, state-sponsored investigations have been deeply flawed. Volunteers are asked to contact FAKE Design Studio to assist with their ongoing inquiry into the collapsed schools’ structural integrity.
Click to read the entire 2009 Art Asia Pacific Magazine
article by Katherine Grube, which was written four years ago:
|Ai Weiwei STRAIGHT (2008-2012)|
Fast-forward to the Venice Biennale in 2013 where Ai Weiwei has two collateral events that together make up an installation entitled DISPOSITION (in addition to his BANG, the German contribution in the French Pavilion). One event is called STRAIGHT over at the new Zuecca Project Space
on Giudecca close to the Zitelle vaporetto stop, and was directly inspired by the earthquake. Ai Weiwei and his team have straightened by hand 150 tons of crumpled, bent steel rebar that was recovered from the collapsed classrooms and brought it here to Venice. The space is filled with undulating rebar that once supported the classrooms. It is a moving memorial to the dead schoolchildren, made even more poignant when we remember that Ai Weiwei was arrested on April 2, 2011 at the Beijing airport as he was about to board a flight for Hong Kong. The labor continued while Ai Weiwei was incarcerated, the workers hammering out by hand every single rebar, straightening the twisted steel into something soulful. A video at the installation details the saga, including the citizen's investigation into the faulty construction.
|Ai Weiwei STRAIGHT (2008-2012)|
The second part of DISPOSITION is called S.A.C.R.E.D. and is at the Church of Sant' Antonin. The pews have been taken out of the church, replaced by six black, weighty two-and-a-half-ton
iron boxes. Inside each box is a different scene of Ai's forced captivity after he was taken into custody on April 2, 2011 by the Chinese authorities. We, the viewers, stand on a step and peer inside the box, observing Ai Weiwei under surveillance. The six dioramas are:
|S.A.C.R.E.D. by Ai Weiwei|
Ai Weiwei was not here in Venice for his openings because the Chinese government has taken his passport away, so his 82-year-old mother, Gao Ying, came instead. (Perhaps the American Edward Snowden, who is also without a passport, should consider changing careers while he's at the airport in Russia -- he could create a magnificent art project inspired by his exile.) I thought how fortunate Ai Weiwei was to have a mother who supported him in his struggles against a corrupt government instead of a mother like my own, the soon-to-be-80-year-old Dorothy Wydock, who actively works with corrupt officials inside the United States government to destroy her own daughter.
:Ai Weiwei's mother Gao Ying, turned up to the opening of his new exhibit in Venice, this morning. Gao, who's in her early eighties attended in lieu of her son who the Chinese authorities refuse to allow to travel. She has been one of her son's most vocal supporters and has accused officials of hounding her son, describing their approach as "creepy, crooked and evil".
One of the definitions of "disposition" is c (1) : transfer to the care or possession of another (2) : the power of such transferal. Speaking as someone who was not only without my US passport for nearly four years, who the United States government tried to illegally rendition right out of Italy, who was under surveillance, and who was forcibly hospitalized against my will, I found Ai Weiwei's S.A.C.R.E.D. deeply moving. It is as if certain people who work for the government -- no matter what nation, no matter what system -- have lost their humanity and are fascinated to the point of obsession about the behavior of those who have maintained their ability to empathize. Hence, the constant surveillance, cyber and otherwise. Those who have lost their humanity observe real human beings like they are watching animals in a zoo.
In Ai Weiwei's case, there were two government workers who had him under constant observation, up close and personal, even in the toilet, even while he slept, for 81 days. What kind of people would perform such a job? Since I actually know several of the people involved in my own case, I can state that there is something seriously lacking in their core -- perhaps governments deliberately screen out people capable of compassion. Perhaps human beings like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning slip through the cracks because of their youth, high intelligence and cyber skills -- skills that require a soul, like artists -- skills the governments cannot imagine nor ever reproduce.
|"Doubt" from Ai Weiwei's S.A.C.R.E.D. (2011-2013)|
According to the May 28, 2013 The Independent
, Ai sneaked the art work out of China:Dissident artist Ai Weiwei has secretly spent 18 months creating six sculptures of the 81 days he spent in detention in China for “tax evasion” in 2011 and has shipped them out of the country. The six works, entitled S.A.C.R.E.D, have gone on display at the Venice Biennale. Ai Weiwei has declined to say how he managed to sneak the artwork out of China. Six shoulder-high iron boxes went on display in the nave of Venice’s Church of Saint’Antonin today. Within each box is a viewing slit revealing scenes of the artist held in detention by Chinese officials.
|"Entropy" (Sleep) from Ai Weiwei's S.A.C.R.E.D. (2011-2013)|
Ai Weiwei spent 81 days in confinement, under constant observation by the Chinese government for "tax evasion." Bradley Manning spent 1,101 days in confinement, under constant observation by the United States government, and is now on trial, charged with 21 crimes, including aiding the enemy, espionage, stealing government property, and “wanton publication,” which, according to the Daily Beast
, "could leave the 25-year-old facing life plus 149 years in a military prison if convicted." As I write this, Edward Snowden is still stuck at the airport in Moscow. (Now I understand why the US State Department's presence here in Venice is at the Marco Polo airport:) Is one government better or worse than the other? I will confess that I really
believed that the United States was of a higher caliber, and that I am shocked, to this day, to know by direct, personal experience that we are not.
|"Supper" from Ai Weiwei's S.A.C.R.E.D. (2011-2013)|
Former two-time Senator Gordon Humphrey recently voiced his support
for Edward Snowden:
...Americans concerned about the growing arrogance of our government and its increasingly menacing nature should be working to help Mr. Snowden find asylum. Former Members of Congress, especially, should step forward and speak out.
"Growing arrogance." "Menacing nature." Those are very strong words, and from my own personal experience with the US government, I completely concur. China also used a word that I liked: "sanctimonious." China’s state newspaper, The People’s Daily, wrote: “The United States has gone from a model of human rights to an eavesdropper on personal privacy, the manipulator of the centralized power over the international internet, and the mad invader of other countries’ networks. . . The world will remember Edward Snowden. It was his fearlessness that tore off Washington’s sanctimonious mask.”
|"Ritual" from Ai Weiwei's S.A.C.R.E.D (2011-2013)|
What the United States of America did to me, one of its own citizens, is an outrage. The actual individuals who broke the law are no better than common thugs. That they hide behind a "sanctimonious mask" in an attempt to disguise their criminal behavior thoroughly disgusts me. As I wrote in my September 5, 2012 letter to Kyle R. Scott, the U.S. Consul General in Milan, I expect nine million euros and apology to correct the situation. An excerpt:"Because of my good character and hard work, I have earned access to people and venues denied to many foreigners. The United States of America should be honored to have an American such as myself represent our country abroad. Instead, you have attempted to assassinate my character, illegally rendition me back to the USA and have me institutionalized. You have stolen years from my life, not to mention the physical, emotional and mental damage that you intentionally inflicted. You have interfered in the lives of innocent civilians both here in Italy and in the USA. You have spent a fortune in time, energy and money trying to destroy me. It is an outrage. By such behavior, it is clear that your intentions here in Italy are far from honorable. The United States has no right to criticize one single country on this planet until you clean up this mess. Nine million euros and an apology is a bargain."
|"Cleansing" from S.A.C.R.E.D. by Ai Weiwei (2011-2013)|
A. Daniel Weygandt, the former US Consul General in Milan, once gave me a great compliment. He said, "Cat, you'll never be a diplomatic, but you sure look good."
Ciao from Venezia,
CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog
(Venice, Italy) Imagine walking along the street and seeing a door that you have never seen before. Imagine going through that door and finding yourself inside a fabulous, magical space. And then imagine that inside that space, behind another door, is a theater, and there is a haunting movie looping that you can watch for free.
Thanks to François Pinault, the French billionaire and art collector, that fantasy is a reality. After thirty years of neglect, Teatrino, the theater next to Palazzo Grassi, has been spectacularly restored by Tadao Ando, the renowned self-taught Japanese architect. From Wikipedia
:"The simplicity of his architecture emphasizes the concept of sensation and physical experiences, mainly influenced by the Japanese culture. The religious term Zen, focuses on the concept of simplicity and concentrates on inner feeling rather than outward appearance. Zen influences vividly show in Ando’s work and became its distinguishing mark."
The Teatrino does feel very Zen, and that's a great thing. The theater was once a Romantic garden, then an outdoor open theater, then a closed theater, then abandoned in 1983. Now it's an 225 seat auditorium that can be used for theatrical performances and screenings, and a foyer that can be used for parties and exhibitions. It reminded me of a mini Directors Guild Theater in Los Angeles, and I can imagine all sorts of very cool happenings taking place at Teatrino.
So, what movie was looping when I arrived? Marilyn
, a 23 minute piece by Philippe Parreno, which I found absolutely riveting. From the handout:"Marilyn (2012) is a work focused on the idea of celebrating a dead person, of portraying a ghost. It is a fictitious evocation of Marilyn Monroe, the icon of popular culture, and is set in the suite of the Waldorf Astoria in New York, where the actress lived in the 1950s. The three algorithms that are used in biometrics to identify an individual, and which respectively correspond to the voice, the handwriting, and iris recognition, reproduce Marilyn's presence. The camera sees with her eyes, a computer reconstructs her voice to describe what the eyes see, and a robot writes with her calligraphy what the voice says. Through the use of a mathematical equation and robotics, the work produces a figure that is almost human -- in the words of the artist "an embodied image." Philippe Parreno has exceptionally agreed to present this work in a screening room, even though it is usually displayed in a proper exhibition space, in the conditions of appearing and disappearing that the work requires."
When the camera dollies back at the end, showing you what is really going on behind the scenes, the effect is stunning. Parreno said he found it interesting that a little [mathematical] equation could recreate something resembling a human, something quasi-human.
If you are in Venice this week, you can see Marilyn
tomorrow, and then again next Sunday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. On Wednesday and Friday The Sorks: A Concert for Creatures
by Loris Gréaud is playing (22 minutes), and on Thursday and Saturday it's 1395 Days Without Red
(43 minutes) by Anri Sala, the artist who represents France at this year's Biennale. The films close on Sunday, July 14th, but there will be more films, and jazz, and conferences and classical music at Teatrino -- Circuito Off, the Venice International Short Film Festival will take place there on August 28 through August 31, and that is an excellent venue for it. Click here to view the calendar
I love Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi. The building itself is a work of art.
Ciao from Venice,
CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog
(Venice, Italy) Perhaps it's only natural that Swarovski, the world's leading crystal manufacturer, has an illuminated eye into the future. Inspired by one of the greatest architects of the past -- Andrea Palladio, who designed the 16th-century Church of San Giorgio Maggiore -- the largest Swarovski lens ever created is at the center of Perspectives,
a work of art by the minimalist architect John Pawson, running as a collateral event of the Biennale International Art Festival through November 24, 2013.
The installation is simply beautiful, one of the most beautiful man-made objects I have ever seen. The lens, a 40cm wide concave Swarovski crystal meniscus made from optical quality glass, is centered on top of a mirrored stainless-steel hemisphere that John Pawson himself says "almost looks like liquid mercury." Perspectives
is positioned directly below the cupola, magnifying Palladio's concentric circles on the ceiling, creating a dramatic optical experience.
:The first church on the island was built about 790, and in 982, the island was given to the Benedictine order by the Doge Tribuno Memmo. The Benedictines founded a monastery there, but in 1223, all the buildings on the island were destroyed by an earthquake.The church and monastery were rebuilt after the earthquake. The church, which had a nave with side chapels, was not in the same position as the present church, but farther back at the side of a small campo or square. There were cloisters in front of it, which were demolished in 1516. The monks were considering the rebuilding of the church from 1521.Palladio arrived in Venice in 1560, when the refectory of the monastery was being rebuilt. He made great improvements to this and in 1565, was asked to prepare a model for a new church.The model was completed and approved in 1566 and the foundation stone was laid in the presence of the Pope in the same year. The work was not finished before the death of Palladio in 1580, but the body of the church was complete by 1575, except for the choir behind the altar and the facade.
The newly-established Swarovski Foundation is another exciting example of how the world of fashion and luxury entwines nicely with the world of art and culture. Daniel Swarovski founded the company in 1895 in the magical alpine land of Wattens, Tyrol in Austria. Today, the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the foundation is Nadja Swarovski, Daniel's great-great-grandaughter, a real dynamo.
From an April 25, 2013 article in the Wall Street Journal
by Alexa Brazilian entitled A Day in the Life of Nadja Swarovski
:LIKE THE PRECISION-CUT CRYSTAL her great-great grandfather developed in 1895—used in everything from bird-watching binoculars to couture dresses—Nadja Swarovski is seemingly everywhere these days. In any given week you'll find her jetting from London, where she lives with her husband and three young children, to meetings in Beijing, Paris, Los Angeles, New York or her native Wattens, in Tyrol, Austria, where the company is headquartered. Standing just under 6 feet tall, with a physique that defies her 42 years, she speaks five languages and is impervious to jet lag. Go to the WSJ to continue reading.
The first project the foundation has decided to take on is the restoration of poor Saint George standing on the dome of the church, who's missing an arm, among other indignities caused by over-affectionate birds. The project is due to be completed on April 23, 2014, Saint George's Day.
From the Swarovski Foundation's website
:"Swarovski's visionary founder Daniel Swarovski, who established the business in Wattens, Austria, in 1895, demonstrated a strong humanitarian instinct, ensuring that his business cared for its people and the local community. Since then, five generations of the Swarovski family have reinforced Daniel Swarovski's commitment to charitable giving, both within the community and in the wider realms of the environment, health, arts and culture. The Swarovski Foundation has been created to build on this heritage and it will support charitable projects under three main pillars: Fostering Culture and Creativity, Promoting Well-being and Human Rights, and Conserving Natural Resources."
Hooking up with minimalist architect John Pawson to achieve these goals was a brilliant idea. The crystal lens and its hemisphere are magnificent in its simplicity; the Japanese element
of Pawson's background feels perfectly at home in the majestic Palladian church.John Pawson was born in 1949 in Halifax, Yorkshire. After a period in the family textile business he left for Japan, spending several years teaching English at the business university of Nagoya.Towards the end of his time there he moved to Tokyo, where he visited the studio of Japanese architect and designer Shiro Kuramata. Following his return to England, he enrolled at the Architecture Association in London, leaving to establish his own practice in 1981.
Please enjoy this short clip of John Pawson giving his perspective on Perspectives
is an excellent example of how a company can create a positive, nurturing relationship with the fragile Venetian infrastructure. All the players involved, from Swarovski, to Pawson, to the monks of San Giorgio, reflect the highest qualities of humanity. By such behavior, the Swarovski brand associates its name with harmony, elegance and respect, setting a shining example for all businesses who wish to operate in Venice and her lagoon. Viewing Palladio's ceiling through the Swarovski crystal lens of Perspectives
is like having a glimpse into the world of angels. PERSPECTIVES
by John Pawson
in collaboration with Abbazia di San Giorgio MaggiorePerspectives
is shown as a collateral even of the 55th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia until November 24, 2013
Monday – Saturday: 8.30am – 6.30pm
Sunday: 8.30am – 10.30am 12.30pm – 6.30pmClick for information
on visiting Swarovski's Perspectives
Ciao from Venezia,
CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog
(Venice, Italy) FACES Magazin, a very cool "highly reputed Swiss lifestyle magazine based in Zurich" does a topic every month called "Short Trip," where they present a different city from an insider's point of view. The month of June features Venice -- or Venedig, since the magazine is in German -- and the Venice insider is Cat Bauer, a name that also happens to be German:)
They sent over pdf files of the cover and the article, but I cannot figure out how to import them into the blog, and I can't read it anyway because it's in German. But, of course, I didn't write in German, I wrote in English, which FACES
translated. The piece is also up on their website
, and they've got some really great images. Here's the first paragraph:
Venedig ist romantisch, aber nicht kitschig, geheimnisvoll und mysteriös, eine Stadt voller Geister der Vergangenheit, die einem an jeder Ecke Geheimnisse ins Ohr flüstern, sofern man denn auch hören mag. Zeit spielt hier keine Rolle, vom Wetter ganz zu schweigen – man ist hart im Nehmen, muss man wohl, in einer Stadt, die unaufhörlich sinkt. Hier genießt man das Leben, das Essen, die Kultur, schaut nicht nach vorn, sondern lebt den Moment. Cat Bauer wechselte vor 15 Jahren den Kontinent und zog aus den USA nach Italien. Von Venedig kam sie nicht mehr weg, deshalb verrät sie uns hier die Gründe fürs Kommen und Bleiben.
And here is what I wrote in English:
FACES – Short Trip
FACES “Short Trip” is a one page topic in FACES Magazine. Each month we present a city for a Short Trip. A local recommends his favorite/coolest places of the city.
1. Venice is ...
(2-3 phrases to characterize the city and what you like about it)
Venice is a city inhabited by ghosts of the past who still whisper secrets into the ears of those who know how to listen.
Venice is beautiful, magical and mysterious, an eternal temptress skilled in the art of seduction.
Venice is a town where the contemporary merges with the past, an ancient city that is young at heart.
2. What are the city’s best hotels?
Palazzina G - uber hip; designed by Philippe Starck; Johnny Depp stayed there when he was filming “The Tourist.”
Sestriere San Marco 3247,
Tel. +39 041 5284644
Fax. +39 041 2410575
Gritti Palace Hotel - just got a 34 million euro facelift; where Ernest Hemingway stayed
Campo Santa Maria del Giglio, 2467 · 30124 Venice, Italy
+39 041 794611
+39 041 5200942
· In Italy, call: +800-325-45454
Why Book withOstello Venezia - Venice Hostel - located on the Island of Giudecca, for the backpack crowd - Reopening in May after a fresh restoration
Fondamenta Zitelle 86
Isola della Giudecca
Tel. +39 342 5767349
Fax. +39 041 5235689
3. Which are your favorite restaurants? And what do you like to order?
(3-4 restaurants – can be different things, not only dinner – best breakfast, terrace, fast food, cafes, etc.)
Campo Santo Stefano
San Marco 2801
+39 041 527 879
I love the fish at this restaurant. They always make me a dish of barely-cooked tuna with sesame seeds. I dine outside under the umbrellas in the square even if it’s raining.
TAVERNA DEL CAMPIELLO REMER |
SESTIERE CANNAREGIO 5701 -
Go for the all-you-can-eat buffet from 5:30 to 7:30 and grab a spritz or a prosecco. Hang out in the little square in front of the restaurant with an awesome view of the Grand Canal. Also some excellent local music throughout the night. I order whatever the fresh fish is.
L’ombra del Leone
Ca' Giustinian, San Marco 1364/A
The cafeteria at La Biennale headquarters inside Ca’ Giustinian is a great place to grab a lunch or have an evening drink. There’s outdoor seating right on the Grand Canal.
Bar Rialto da Lollo
San Polo 57
(under the Sottoportici degli Oresi at the Rialto Bridge)
Tel: 041 520 0106
The best panini(sandwiches) in Venice are at this little bar. I go for the codfish and artichoke panino.
4. Best fashion shops
(Boutique, shoe store, secondhand, anything fashion.)
My favorite jewelry shop; imports from the East and local artisans:
Gems of Venice
San Polo 1044
Tel: 041 522 5148
Hip clothes and handbags. Bright, vivid and colorful:
Arnoldo & Battois
Calle dei Fuseri 4271
+39 348 3122559
Arnoldo & Battois
Campo San Maurizio 2671
+39 348 4123797
Cool clothes and jewelry:
Dorsoduro, Rio Terà Canal 3111
+39 041 5201731
5. Best non fashion shops?
(Some special stores – art, living, design, deco, baby stuff, anything cool and special)
My favorite local wine shop:
El Vin Del Paron
San Polo 59
(under the Sottoportici degli Oresi at the Rialto Bridge)
My favorite place to buy a gift for your pet:
San Polo 826
Calle del Bo’
My favorite designer eyeglasses; family owned and handmade:
Ruga Rialto 1030
S.Polo 30125 VENEZIA
6. Where are the best parties?
The best parties are inside private palaces. Try to score an invite during the Venice Biennale International Contemporary Art Festival, especially during the opening days. There are always great parties in all sorts of fascinating venues throughout the city.
7. The ultimate Venice experience?
(A must do – something you can experience nowhere better)
There is no other place in the world where you can take a ride on a gondola, a sleek, silent ancient method of transportation. My favorite time to go is at sunset.
8. Which are the city’s best areas?
(for shopping, bars, day life, nightlife.)
There are a bunch of bars over at the foot of the Rialto Bridge on the San Polo side, and a huge open space where they converge in Campo San Giacometto, a nightly open-air party. My favorite bar is:
Muro Meeting Bar
Campo bella Vienna, Rialto
San Polo 222
+39 041 24 12 339
High fashion shopping on XXII Marzo. Day life is just wandering around and getting lost; buy “Secret Venice” by Thomas Jonglez and Paola Zoffoli and follow their instructions. At night, head over to Campo Santa Margherita where the university crowd hangs out.
9. What’s the latest Place to be“?
(What’s new and hip, the longest line outside, you can hardly get in?)
It might sound strange, but the longest line to get in is at Saint Mark’s Basilica, the main cathedral in Piazza San Marco. It’s always packed.
It depends on the band, but sometimes it’s hard to get into Paradiso Perduto:
Osteria “Il Paradiso Perduto”
Cannaregio, Fondamenta della Misericordia, 2540
Per prenotazioni: tel. +39 041 720581
Your name: Cat Bauer
Your job: Writer
You love …. Creativity, imagination and harmony
You hate …. Lies, envy and jealousy
You’re originally from… the United States
Have been living in Venice since…1998
When you would move away someday, then to… Somewhere over the rainbow
What does Venice have that other cities don’t?
Streets made of water
Ciao from Venezia,
|Yoko Ono at Palazzo Badoer|
(Venice, Italy) Yoko Ono turned 80-years-old on February 18, 2013, which makes her seven months older than my mother. Here is how Wikipedia
describes Yoko:Yoko Ono (born February 18, 1933) is a Japanese artist and peace activist, known for her work in avant-garde art, music and filmmaking and for her marriage to John Lennon (1969–1980). Ono brought feminism to the forefront in her music. She is also known for her philanthropic contributions to arts, peace and AIDS outreach programs. Lennon called her "the most famous unknown artist in the world."
If you ask me what one of Yoko's greatest contributions has been, it would be the influence she had on John Lennon with respect to women. By demanding that one of the most powerful, individualistic men on earth -- and a rock star, at that -- create an equal partnership with a individualistic Japanese woman, well, that was a rare occurrence at a time when wives her age were still ironing their husband's handkerchiefs and sending them off to win some bread. Yoko changed John Lennon's attitude towards women, and by doing that, helped to pioneer a new era in women's rights.
"Venice is a place that when I come here I always learn something. It's incredible. Incredible. You are standing in a difficult situation, in front of the sea. Maybe you enjoy the challenge. Maybe your ancestors enjoyed the challenge. I always get inspired when I come here. We have similar ways of working.
Yoko Ono attends the opening of a David Croland exhibit
at Artworks Gallery in New York City
on November 13th, 1973
I allow people to work on my work. You allow the whole world to come here to participate. If you don't open yourself up you start to shrivel. People go to all the big countries. This is a very small island. The town is artistically perfect.
I would understand if you didn't let people come in here -- Don't touch! We want to preserve! -- You are trusting people not to destroy it. I do my art work in the same way. I do my project and call it unfinished, then ask people to add themselves to my work.In the beginning, I was just a normal artist, wanting to protect my work. Then I thought, what if I ask people to add themselves to my work? Oh! I don't like that feeling! It was an artistic revolution, so I thought I must do it. My artwork is a form of giving.
I am getting so many more people to add to it, it was getting so powerful. I never imaged it would be so powerful.
There are so many things I am understanding now that I've turned eighty. Don't be frightened to add years to yourself. There are so many things you didn't know.Word is how we express ourselves. Word is very powerful. When you say "I love you" to someone, you say "I love you" to the whole world.
When you say, "I hate you," things will shrivel up.
When the whole world was hating me, sending me letters, I survived because I was in love with life.
When I was a young girl in elementary school, I saw a picture of an old Japanese warrior praying to the New Moon -- in the West you pray to the Full Moon, but in the East we pray to the New Moon... The old warrior said, give me Seven Troubles and Eight Sufferings so I can be a strong person and help the world. I said, my God, he's so courageous, I want to be like him. Then I forgot about it.As I got older, my life was full of troubles. When my husband, John, passed away, I thought: I'm doing something wrong. I thought I was doing everything right. Then I remembered what I asked when I was a young girl. I thought: I have to change.
There is a word in Japanese that is in between lucky and happy. So I asked for Seven Lucky/Happy things and Eight Treasures.
I thought maybe you could use that in your life, too.
On behalf of all the foreign people, thank you for allowing us to show our work here. Your generosity is starting to make a dialogue, and it is a very healthy dialogue. So many countries are doing Biennales. But this was the first. It started here."
Someone then asked Yoko what her dream was.
"My dream is to have the world become better and better for all of us."
Ciao from Venezia,
CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog
Carl Gustav Jung
The Red Book [page 655], 1915-1959
Paper, ink, tempera, gold paint, red leather binding
40 x 31 x 10cm
© 2009 Foundation of the Works of C.G. Jung, Zürich. First published by W.W. Norton & Co., New York 2009
(Venice, Italy) Massimiliano Gioni, the curator of the 55th International Festival of Contemporary Art, anchors his exhibition The Encyclopedic Palace
on two formidable bookends: the esoteric Red Book
by Carl G. Jung, and Marion Auriti's I Palazzo Enciclopedico
, a physical model of an imaginary museum meant to house all worldly knowledge. At age 39, Gioni is the youngest artistic director in the 118-year-old history of the Venice Biennale, which was the very first international art event in the world back in 1895. In terms of earth-years, Gioni may be the youngest, but it is clear that he is a very old soul.
Until September 2009, only about two dozen people had ever seen the contents of The Red Book
, the mysterious 205-page manuscript written and illustrated by the renowned Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Gustav Jung, in which he attempted to give conscious voice to his unconscious mind. Until 2001, Jung's heirs had denied even scholars access to the book until persuaded by the historian Sonu Shamdasani that the time was right for the information to make its way into the public's domain. Now, at the 55th Venice Biennale International Festival of Contemporary Art, the entire world can have a gander at selected pages of the book Jung composed back in 1914 to about 1930, when he was 40-55 years old. I've had the great honor of hearing Shamdasani speak, and it was clear that he was the right man for the job of releasing Jung's precious research into the collective consciousness. You can read what I wrote about that experience three years ago here
, about half-way down the page:
Il Encyclopedico Palazzo del Mondo or Encyclopedic Palace of the World, ca. 1950s
55th International Art Exhibition, Il Palazzo Enciclopedico, la Biennale di Venezia
Photo By Francesco Galli
Courtesy la Biennale di Venezia
When I saw the actual model of the Encyclopedic Palace by Marino Auriti erect in the center of Arsenale, I was moved to tears, thinking of the long journey it had taken for it to finally reach Italian soil. Auriti, a self-taught Italian-American artist had registered the patent for his museum of knowledge on November 16, 1955. From his statement of purpose:The building would have twenty-four entrances, 126 bronze statues of “writers, scientists, and artists past, present, and future” and, on the piazza, 220 Doric columns with more statues of writers, scientists, artists. At each corner would be domed laboratories, topped by statues of allegorical figures representing each of the four seasons, much like the Ponte Santa Trinità.
It is amazing that Auriti believed in his vision so fervently -- a 2,300-foot-tall skyscraper to house all worldly knowledge to be built in the mall in Washington, D. C., the capital of his adopted country -- that he had the incentive to register his design at the US Patent office! After being left to crumble in storage after Auriti's death in 1980, the 11-foot-tall model Auriti built of the Encyclopedic Palace was resurrected by his loving granddaughters and the American Folk Art Museum in 2004. You can read more about the amazing journey at a post I wrote here
Now the Encyclopedic Palace is here in Venice as the star of the 55th International Contemporary Art Festival, a prime example of one man's imagination brought to life. Marino Auriti has achieved his goal of creating a space to house all worldly knowledge, although not exactly in the way he envisioned it. The physical space is the ever-expanding Venice Biennale, a powerhouse of ancient and contemporary knowledge that coexists in space and time; the seed of intelligence that has gathered like-minded thinkers together is Auriti's imagination, enhanced by Gioni's imagination, enhanced by the imaginations of the human beings that make up the Board of La Biennale that chose Gioni as curator.
From the New York Times
Paolo Baratta, the longtime president of the Biennale, said that “after 14 years of having traditional curators I thought it was time to ask a man of the next generation.”
“At a time when contemporary art is flooding the world,” he added, “it seemed to make more sense to present a show that doesn’t just include a list of artists from the present but rather looks at today’s art through the eyes of history.”
Curator of the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia
Installation view Il Palazzo Enciclopedico
Photo by Francesco Galli
Courtesy la Biennale di Venezia
Massimiliano Gioni stated: "The Encyclopedic Palace is a show that illustrates a condition we all share: we ourselves are media
, channeling images, or at times even finding ourselves possessed by images."
Personally, I have always believed that we are indeed, media, channeling and projecting images from our unconscious minds. Most people simply regurgitate the images they have been fed by the mass-media machine, too afraid or uninspired to project an original thought on their own.The brave artists, scientists, writers, and musicians who are not afraid to stand alone have worked with the unconscious mind for millennea, often far ahead of their time, and often subjected to ridicule.
This year, the brilliant imagination of a man once considered an eccentric Italian immigrant -- Marino Auriti -- reaches us from half a century ago, just a wink in time, inspiring the oldest (and wisest) art festival in the world.
Ciao from Venezia,
CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog
(Venice, Italy) Today is Vogalonga here in Venice, and every year it reminds us how peaceful and serene the city is without motors, an ambiance that gave Venice her name, La Serenissima Repubblica
, or The Most Serene Republic. What is Vogalonga?
:"Vogalonga is a rowing "competition" in the Italian city of Venice.On November 11, 1974 a group of Venetians, both amateur and professional rowers, had a race in the island of Burano. They came up with an idea of non-competitive "race" in which any kind of rowing boat could participate, in the spirit of historical festivities. The first Vogalonga began the next year with the message to protest against the growing use of powerboats in Venice and the swell damage they do to the historic city.Participants gather in St Marks Basin in front of the ducal palace. They sing hymns to San Marco (Saint Mark) and begin the "race". The racecourse is scenic route 30 kilometers long along the various Venetian canals and historical buildings.... ...The numbers of participants has swelled to thousands over the years from all over the world. Some locals have founded new rowing clubs and build their own boats based on real, historical watercraft. Some participants have brought their own kind of boats like the Chinese dragon boats. Some have also chosen to swim through the route instead of rowing...."
To me, Venice would be the perfect city to go "green," with hybrid boats that operated on solar/electric energy while inside the lagoon that could switch over to gas when more power is needed. And the roofs of the vaporetti
, or water buses, seem like they are begging for solar panels!
This year's Vogalonga set a new record with 1,700 boats and as many as 7,000 rowers armed with oars.
For more images and information, please visit the Vogalonga Official Site
, which you can switch over to English by clicking on the right.
The silence is... awesome.
Ciao from La Serenissima,
CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog
|The Return of the Bucentaur to the Molo on Ascension Day, 1730 by Canaletto |
(Venice, Italy) In one of the world's longest marriages, today Venice once again tossed her ring into the Sea, cementing a relationship that has endured for more than a thousand years. Oh, sure, there have been some quarrels, as in any intimate relationship, but Venice and the Sea have managed to endure century after century. Despite a few storms, floods and other shows of temper, Venice and the Sea always work out their differences and arrive at a state of equilibrio
. It is a beautiful day here in La Serenissima, full of sunshine and good feelings -- perfect weather for a wedding.
Last year the Festa della Sensa fell on the same day as the America's Cup, and I would like to take a moment to remember the Olympic gold medalist, Oliver Simpson, who died at the age of 36 on Thursday, May 9, 2013 after being trapped under the Artemis Racing catamaran when it capsized in San Francisco Bay during a routine training exercise for this year's America's Cup. May he rest in peace. Last year I wrote a detailed post about the holiday:
Here is a long excerpt:
|Festa della Sensa|
The Ancient and the Contemporary, the Sacred and the Profane merge once again in Venice. Today is Ascension Day, the day that celebrates the bodily ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven. In Venice, it is known as the Festa della Sensa; "sensa" is the word "ascension" in the Venetian language. Whenever Venetians get their hands on a special day, they like to pack as much power into that day as possible. So, in the morning there is the traditional Festa della Sensa celebration, and in the afternoon -- the America's Cup!
Festa della Sensa -- even without the America's Cup in town -- traditionally commemorates two different, important events in Venetian history. The first took place on May 9, 1000 when Doge Pietro Orseolo II rescued the Dalmatians from the Slavs.
The second event took place in 1177. Back in those days, the players involved were:
1. The Holy Roman Empire with the German Frederick I Barbarossa (aka Red Beard aka Kaiser Rotbart) as the Emperor.
a) Anti-pope Callixtus III, backed by Red Beard
2. The Republic of Venice, with Sebastiano Ziani as the Doge.
3. Pope Alexander III, backed by the Lombard League
Frederick I Barbarossa (Red Beard) was the German Holy Roman Emperor, and he had his own anti-pope, Callixtus III. Red Beard was going around conquering everybody, as emperors have a tendency to do. He was particularly eager to conquer Italy, and was not fond of Pope Alexander III, who had excommunicated him for his bad behavior. The only force with any hope to stop Red Beard was the Lombard League, which was backed by Pope Alexander III. The Battle of Legnano was fought and the Lombard League won.
|Federico Zuccaro - Barbarossa Pays Homage to Alexander III|
Just WHO was God's vicar on Earth? The Pope or the Emperor? That was the question. It is not easy to get an Emperor and a Pope together in the same town, but Venice managed to do just that. Pope Alexander III came to Venice. Red Beard got as far as Chioggia, but was not allowed to land in Venice herself "until he had set aside his leonine ferocity and put on the gentleness of the lamb." Barbarossa became lamb-like, and was allowed into Piazza San Marco, where he found Pope Alexander III surrounded by the Doge, the Patriarch, a host of cardinals and other luminaries. The Emperor prostrated himself in front of the Pope, and received the kiss of peace.
So, the Treaty, or Peace, of Venice in 1177 is also celebrated during the Festa della Sensa. From Old & Sold:
The astute Venetians extorted valuable privileges both from the Pope and from the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa as their reward for the part which they had played in the historic reconciliation.
During his stay in Venice Alexander III was present at the famous ceremony which was later known as the wedding of the Adriatic, a rite which had been inaugurated by the great Doge Pietro Orseolo II, the conqueror of Dalmatia. As a token of Papal approval of the ceremony the Pope handed the Doge Sebastiano Ziani a consecrated ring with the words: "Receive this as a pledge of the sovereignty which you and your successors shall have in perpetuity over the sea."
For over 600 years this magnificent ceremony was enacted annually. The Doge, surrounded by the Patriarch of Venice, the great officers of State, and the foreign ambassadors, embarked on the large gilded barge, the Bucintoro, and sailed through the Porto di Lido to the open Adriatic. Here the Patriarch blessed the ring and gave it to the Doge, who threw it into the sea, pronouncing the time-honoured formula: "Sea, we wed thee in token of our true and perpetual dominion over thee." The ceremony only came to an end with the extinction of the Republic in 1797.
|Festa della Sensa by Canaletto|
Venice began celebrating Festa della Sensa again in 1965. The tradition continues to this very day when Venice marries her husband, the sea, except these days it is the mayor who throws a symbolic "ring" into the sea in the waters off Lido. Then there are traditional regattas, a high mass at the Church of San Nicolò, and a market on the grounds outside the church.Click HERE to continue reading
Ciao from Venezia,
CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog
|Snowball, 2001, Murano glass, 18cm Ø. Courtesy the Artist, copyright Eric Gregory Powell|
(Venice, Italy) There was some discussion about the lack of a Venetian presence at the exhibition Fragile?
at Le Stanze del Vetro
, which is a joint initiative of the Giorgio Cini Foundation and Pentagram Stiftung to promote 20th Century Venetian glass. This press release from Le Stanze del Vetro is so well-written that I am going to publish it in its entirety. The Not Vital 700 Snowballs
exhibition is a collaboration between the Swiss artist (with a very cool name) and the glassmasters on Murano, and will be opening at the same time as the Biennale International Contemporary Art exhibition.
Ciao from Venezia,
CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog On 1st June 2013, the exhibition Not Vital: 700 Snowballs, curated by Alma Zevi, opens to the public on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. The exhibition is sponsored and promoted by Pentagram Stiftung, a Swiss private foundation dedicated to the study of glass. In 2012, the foundation launched Le Stanze del Vetro in partnership with the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, also on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice.
The exhibition is on show in the left wing of the Abbazia di San Giorgio Maggiore and will be open until 29th September 2013 from 10 am to 7 pm (free admission, closed on Wednesdays).
This presentation of Not Vital: 700 Snowballs, alongside the exhibition Fragile? concurrently on view at Le Stanze del Vetro, brings the visitor through a comprehensive mapping and understanding of the use of glass in contemporary art.
700 Snowballs is an installation consisting of 700 individually blown glass balls which bear striking resemblance to snowballs suspended in air. The snowballs rest directly on the floor, evenly and randomly spread. As each snowball is hand-blown by Vetreria Pino Signoretto in Murano, no two are identical – just as natural elements are never exactly repeated.
The installation creates a place of meditation, evoking the metamorphic, transformative and cyclical processes of nature. The luminous and reflective qualities of glass simultaneously reflect both the dense and yet ephemeral nature of snow. This mirrors the tension between the organic form and the inorganic material, between the durability of the artwork and the fragility of the elements it evokes.
As stated by curator Alma Zevi: "These balls remain, suspended in a moment, creating something that is fundamentally beautiful, and disconcertingly permanent in the world. This work is about human experience, a primary and universal encounter with nature and its physical substance".
700 Snowballs becomes an environment, a tranquil place of awe and contemplation. Inspired throughout his career by a childhood spent in the Swiss Alps, Vital has explored the contradictions of the harsh climate and vast landscapes that he knows so intimately. Indeed, the iconography of snow and its context has recurred throughout Vital's oeuvre – he has for instance used plaster to mould mountains that appear to be covered in snow, and has fabricated sleds from marble.
In 700 Snowballs, Not Vital succinctly and poetically presents to us the duality of water’s form when it freezes. It also makes us think of water’s importance in Venice: both in its attractive picturesque quality, which has long been symbolic of the city’s opulent history, and its more recent role as a serious threat to the city. 700 Snowballs explores the ever-rich potential of Venice glass-blowing tradition, despite our being in an era of industrial mass-production and cultural globalization. The installation is an unprecedented technical feat, and a fine example of the fruits that can be borne of an intimate and intellectually stimulating collaboration between a highly established artist, and the most skilled of Murano craftsmen.
On the occasion of the exhibition Not Vital: 700 Snowballs, artist Not Vital, in collaboration with glass master Simone Cenedese, will design a special limited artist edition glass artwork available for purchase at the bookshop of Le Stanze del Vetro. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Concurrently, Not Vital will be presenting a selection of works on paper at Giorgio Mastinu Fine Art (San Marco 3126, 30124 Venezia) from 28th May 2013. For further information please visit www.giorgiomastinufineart.it or contact +39 347 1828553.
With thanks to Abbazia di S. Giorgio Maggiore, Ruch & Partners Architects St. Moritz, and those donors who wish to remain anonymous
Not Vital (b. 1948, Sent, Engadin, Switzerland) is at the international forefront of contemporary sculpture. A nomadic lifestyle has brought him to live and work periodically in every continent over the last 40 years. Currently he has a studio in Sent and Beijing, and ongoing relationships with craftspeople in Venice, Lucca, North Africa, Rio de Janiero and Patagonia. Not Vital took part in the 49th Venice Biennale (2001), curated by Harald Szeemann, with his work Plateau of Humanity. Since the mid 1970s, Not Vital has exhibited extensively and with international acclaim in galleries, museums and institutions.
|photo: Eric Gregory Powell |
|Luncheon on the Grass by Manet (1863) London, Courtauld Gallery, Samuel Couortauld Trust|
(Venice, Italy) Édouard Manet shocked the French public in 1865 with Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (Luncheon on the Grass - painted in 1863) which featured a naked woman picnicking with two fully-clothed men, another scantily-dressed woman bathing in the background. The influence of Italian Renaissance artists on the painter who would become known as "The Father of Modern Art" is the focus of the spectacular exhibition MANET. RETURN TO VENICE that opened yesterday, April 24, 2013, in the Doge's Apartments inside the Palazzo Ducale.
Édouard Manet first visited The Louvre with his maternal uncle, Edouard Fournier, when he was just a boy. Born in Paris on January 23, 1832 into a wealthy family, Manet's father was a senior executive in the Ministry of Justice, and his mother was the daughter of diplomats, as well as the goddaughter of the Crown Prince of Sweden. His parents had high hopes of Manet following in their footsteps and pursuing a "respectable" career, but -- once again proving that God has a sense of humor -- their son had been born with the soul of an artist. After refusing to study law, and twice failing the entrance exam to become a naval officer, the teenager went to Paris to pursue a career in the arts. He studied with Thomas Couture, and copied works of ancient masters at the Louvre. The Louvre is where the young Manet first met the Venetian artists Titian, Tintoretto and Veronese (and, with a whisper, Giorgione himself), who passed him their paintbrushes like batons through the ether and initiated him into the World of Art. As has been proven century after century, once those Masters get their hands on an artist's soul, there is nothing the material world can do to rip it from their grasp, although, in Manet's case, society gave it their best shot. We can imagine the young Manet wandering through the enormous museum, poised in front of some of the world's greatest masterpieces, the beckoning voices of the enlightened artists drowning out the authoritative paternal voice, encouraging him to break through the dark barrier of the past and into the light of the future.
|Portrait of M & Mme Manet (1860)|
Setting the exhibition inside the Palazzo Ducale in Venice reunites Manet with the Venetian masters who reached out to him in Paris from beyond the grave. After living amongst the ancient masters in the Louvre, the 21-year-old Manet first came to Italy in 1853 and stayed in Venice, then Florence, and perhaps, went onto Rome and experienced firsthand the environment in which they worked. He next visited Germany and Austria, and then returned to Paris, where he copied the old masters. He again visited Italy in 1857.Manet. Return to Venice focuses, naturally, on the relationship the painter had with Italy in general and Venice in particular. The oils Manet made of the Venus du Pardo after Titian, and the Self-portrait after Tintoretto, are part of the exhibition (the originals are not; I am including them here for illustration purposes), as are drawings of works by Veronese, Raphael, Andrea del Sarto, Fra Bartolomeo, Parmigianino, Luca della Robbia, Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio and Benozzo Gozzoli. It seems remarkable that a 22-year-old could have the depth of character to produce such exceptional copies of the worldly self-portrait that Tintoretto painted as a man of 70, or the lascivious scene of Jupiter cavorting with Antiope that Titian painted when he was around 50, but when you visit the exhibition, you will witness the phenomenon with your own eyes.
|Tintoretto self-portrait (1588) Louvre|
True to rebellious form, Manet fell in love with an unsuitable woman, the Dutch-born pianist, Suzanne Leenhoff, who was hired in late 1849 by Auguste, Manet's father, to teach piano to Edouard and his two younger brothers. In 1850, Edouard and Suzanne became lovers, keeping the relationship secret, especially from Auguste. On January 29, 1852, six days after Edouard's 20th birthday, Suzanne gave birth to a son, which she named Lèon-Edouard Koella, "probably" Edouard's son -- all this, remember, taking place prior to Manet's visit to Venice. (He began living with Suzanne and Lèon in 1860, but it wasn't until after his upstanding father, Auguste, died of syphilis in 1862 that Manet married Suzanne on October 28, 1863.)
|Self-portrait by Edouard Manet (after Tintoretto) (1854) Musée des Beaux-Art, Dijon|
Manet. Return to Venice is divided into nine sections: MANET'S ITALYS, THE FATES OF VENUS, NORTH/SOUTH (STILL LIFE), SOLITUDE OF JESUS, A VERY HYBRID SPAIN, BETWEEN MUSIC AND THEATRE, CONTEMPORARY PARNASSUS, MANET SOCIETY PAINTER and THE BOUNDLESS SEA. Manet arrived in Venice in September, 1853, and the exhibit opens with what was going on in Venice at that point in time. Back in France, the next year he produced the copies of Tintoretto and the Titian, obviously inspired by the painters.
|Pardo Venus by Titian (1540-42) Louvre|
|Pardo Venus by Manet (after Titian) (1854) Musée Marmottan, Paris|
Also in the first section is the controversial Le déjeuner sur l'herbe
(see top), which was inspired by Pastoral Concert
, a work attributed to the Venetian artists Titian or Giorgione, and, perhaps, by Giorgione's The Tempest
. The jury at the Salon, the
official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, had rejected Luncheon on the Grass
in 1863, so Manet exhibited it at the Salon des Refusés (Exhibition of the Refused) the exhibition that Emperor Napoleone III had decreed be established to handle the immense output of art being created and rejected by the Salon at the time. When the critics eyed the naked woman lounging with men who were fully dressed in Luncheon on the Grass,
their response was savage. The painting created a huge scandal, causing Manet's good friend, the writer, Emile Zola, to jump to his defense:
"The Luncheon on the Grass is the greatest work of Édouard Manet, one in which he realizes the dream of all painters: to place figures of natural grandeur in a landscape. We know the power with which he vanquished this difficulty. There are some leaves, some tree trunks, and, in the background, a river in which a chemise-wearing woman bathes; in the foreground, two young men are seated across from a second woman who has just exited the water and who dries her naked skin in the open air.
|Pastoral Concert by Titian or Giorgione (1509) Louvre, Paris|
This nude woman has scandalized the public, who see only her in the canvas. My God! What indecency: a woman without the slightest covering between two clothed men! That has never been seen. And this belief is a gross error, for in the Louvre there are more than fifty paintings in which are found mixes of persons clothed and nude. But no one goes to the Louvre to be scandalized. The crowd has kept itself moreover from judging The Luncheon on the Grass like a veritable work of art should be judged; they see in it only some people who are having a picnic, finishing bathing, and they believed that the artist had placed an obscene intent in the disposition of the subject, while the artist had simply sought to obtain vibrant oppositions and a straightforward audience...."
|Emile Zola (1868) Musée d'Orsay|
The second section
of the exhibition, THE FATES OF VENUS is sensational: Manet's controversial painting OLYMPIA (1863) which was condemned as "immoral" and "vulgar" has traveled out of France for the first time to pose dramatically next to source of her inspiration, Titian's VENUS OF URBINO (1538), which, in 1880, Mark Twain called "the foulest, the vilest, the obscenest picture the world possesses" -- perhaps he hadn't seen OLYMPIA.
An interesting choice on the part of the curators was to hang the striking 1860 portrait that Manet painted of his parents (see above) on the wall directly across the room from the two paintings. Also, the well-researched timeline provides valuable insight as to what was going on in history, as well as in art, culture and science throughout the major events in Manet's life. Thus, we are reminded that these were turbulent times in both Europe and the United States, with Italy struggling to form a Kingdom and the US abolishing slavery and starting the Civil War, just about the time that Charles Darwin published the Origin of the Species, Victor Hugo published Les Miserables, and Richard Wagner was in Paris with a new production of Tannhauser in French. Perhaps all this uproar is what inspired Cezanne to quit his bank job and become a painter in 1862.
|Venus of Urbino by Titan (1538) Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence|
Then, in May 1865, the Salon did exhibit Olympia, along with Jesus Mocked by the Soldiers which caused all sorts of renewed outrage directed at Manet. This kind of behavior continued throughout Manet's life. In 1886 he painted The Fifer which he intended to win the Salon public of 1886, but the work was not even accepted.
|Olympia by Edouard Manet (1863) Musée d'Orsay, Paris|
Let's take the time to read an excerpt from the Wikipedia article about Impressionism that sums up the situation. All three paintings I have used to illustrate the article are by Manet, all are here in Venice for the exhibition, and all are from the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, but are not part of the Wikipedia article:
"In the middle of the 19th century—a time of change, as Emperor Napoleon III rebuilt Paris and waged war—the Académie des Beaux-Arts dominated French art. The Académie was the preserver of traditional French painting standards of content and style. Historical subjects, religious themes, and portraits were valued (landscape and still life were not), and the Académie preferred carefully finished images that looked realistic when examined closely. Colour was somber and conservative, and traces of brush strokes were suppressed, concealing the artist's personality, emotions, and working techniques.The Académie had an annual, juried art show, the Salon de Paris, and artists whose work was displayed in the show won prizes, garnered commissions, and enhanced their prestige. The standards of the juries represented the values of the Académie, represented by the works of such artists as Jean-Léon Gérôme and Alexandre Cabanel.
|The Fifer (1866)|
Some younger artists painted in a lighter and brighter manner than painters of the preceding generation, extending further the Realism of Gustave Courbet and the Barbizon school. They were more interested in painting landscape and contemporary life than in recreating historical or mythological scenes. Each year, the Salon jury rejected their works in favour of works by artists faithful to the approved style. A group of young realists, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Frédéric Bazille, who had studied under Charles Gleyre, became friends and often painted together. They gathered at the Café Guerbois, where the discussions were often led by Édouard Manet, whom the younger artists greatly admired. They were soon joined by Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, and Armand Guillaumin.
|The Balcony 1868-69|
In 1863, the jury rejected Manet's The Luncheon on the Grass (Le déjeuner sur l'herbe) primarily because it depicted a nude woman with two clothed men at a picnic. While the Salon jury routinely accepted nudes in historical and allegorical paintings, they condemned Manet for placing a realistic nude in a contemporary setting. The jury's severely worded rejection of Manet's painting appalled his admirers, and the unusually large number of rejected works that year perturbed many French artists.After Emperor Napoleon III saw the rejected works of 1863, he decreed that the public be allowed to judge the work themselves, and the Salon des Refusés (Salon of the Refused) was organized. While many viewers came only to laugh, the Salon des Refusés drew attention to the existence of a new tendency in art and attracted more visitors than the regular Salon." Although Manet was invited to exhibit his work at the first Impressionist show in 1874, he declined, and never did actually do a show with the younger artists he helped to inspire. In October, 1874, he traveled again to Venice with his wife, Suzanne, this time as a famous, successful artist.
|Berthe Morisot with Violets (1874)|
My favorite room was VII. CONTEMPORARY PARNASSUS
Parnassus was the home of the Muses, the home of music, poetry and learning. Manet was not only friends with other artists, he put himself in contact with all the writers and poets of his time such as Baudelaire, Zola and Stéphane Mallarmé, with whom he transformed the American writer Edgar Allen Poe's poem The Raven into an illustrated masterpiece translated into French, known because Mallarmé taught English. These enlightened thinkers painted, wrote and created music inspired by each other, often using their friends and family members as the subjects of their works. Therefore, no matter how often the establishment heaped criticism upon them, or tried to destroy them, they backed each other up, and left behind a brilliant record of their accomplishments that reaches us today.
|Portrait of Stéphane Mallarmé by Manet (1876) Musée d?Orsay, Paris|
Ironically, Edouard Manet died of syphilis just like his father on April 30, 1883.
Our fathers laughed at Courbet
and now we fall into ecstasy before his paintings;
we laugh at Manet
and it will be our children who go into raptures before his pictures.
Ciao from Venezia,
MANET. RETURN TO VENICE
Where: Palazzo Ducale – San Marco 1 , 30124 Venice
When: April 24th 2013 / August 18th 2013
EXTENDED! TO SEPTEMBER 1, 2013
Opening hours: from Sunday to Thursday, from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm
Friday and Saturday, from 9.00 am to 8.00 pm
(ticket office closes 1 hour before)
For more information:
24 ORE Cultura – Gruppo 24 ORE
With the special collaboration of the
Musée D’Orsay in Paris
With the patronate of the
Soprintendenza ai Beni Architettonici e Paesaggistici di Venezia e Laguna
Regione del Veneto
Commissaries Guy Cogeval and Gabriella Belli
Curated by Stéphan Guégan
Layout by Daniela Ferretti
The catalogue will be published by Skira-Milan with texts by: Roberto Calasso, Guy Cogeval, Stéphane Guégan, Gabriella Belli, Flavio Fergonzi and Cesare De Seta.
(Venice, Italy) The English Patient
by Michael Ondaatje is one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read, so when I learned that Ondaatje would be a guest at this year's Incroci di Civilità literary festival here in Venice, I made an effort to attend. I have written about Crossroads of Civilization before:
The Booker Award-winning novel, The English Patient, of course, was transformed into a film directed by Anthony Minghella that went on to win nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, with Ondaatje working closely with the filmmakers to bring it to life. It is a supreme example of a single writer's brilliant imagination lifted up by other creative spirits, transforming the original creation into an enormous, powerful energy that can touch the entire planet. Have a watch, and remember:
Michael Ondaatje was accompanied by his wife, the novelist, Linda Spalding, who received one of Canada's top literary awards, the Governor-General’s Literary Award, for her novel, The Purchase, in 2012. The discussion was conducted by Rosella Mamoli Zorzi. The couple both bill themselves as Canadian writers, even though Ondaatje was born Colombo, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), grew up in England, and then transferred to Canada, becoming a Canadian citizen, and Spalding was born in Kansas, then lived in Mexico and Hawaii before also moving to Toronto. Zorzi asked them why they considered themselves Canadian writers. Spalding said there was a strong community of international writers based in Toronto. Both she and Ondaatje are on the editorial board of the Canadian literary magazine, Brick, a publication that they took over in 1985 and transformed it from one that did book reviews into a solid, national literary magazine. So even though they are not Canadian by birth, they are Canadian in spirit.Ondaatje said that one of the things he enjoyed most about writing a novel is the act of discovery along the way. "How do I get out of here?" One of my favorite comments was by Spalding, who said that as a child she would watch herself from a third-person point of view: "Now she is walking across the park." As a child, I used to do exactly the same thing ("Now she is walking along the sidewalk, toward home")
so I was happy hear of another writer with the same quirk.I had a cozy feeling listening to the two of them read passages from their novels, thinking how lovely it was that two authors were sharing their lives together, gifting humanity with the benefits of their partnership.Stephen Greenblatt was also here to talk about his Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning book, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern. Here is a short bio:
Stephen Greenblatt recently won both the Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for The Swerve: How the World Became Modern. He’s also the author of the New York Times bestseller Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, the general editor of The Norton Shakespeare, and eleven other books. He is Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard and is generally considered the preeminent Shakespeare scholar in the United States today.More than 2,000 years ago, Lucretius, a Roman poet and philosopher wrote a dangerous poem called, De Rerum Natura
, or On the Nature of Things
, inspired by Epicurus, who had lived a couple of centuries before. Epicurus was an atomic materialist, who said that the world was made up of atoms, there was no afterlife, that pleasure was the greatest good, and that the absence of pain was the greatest pleasure. De Rerum Natura
disappeared for about 500 years until it was rediscovered by Poggio Bracciolin, a Florentine/Roman scholar, writer and early humanist who served under seven popes.
Poggio was also a manuscript hunter, searching for ancient knowledge that had disappeared. One of the manuscripts he discovered was De Rerum Natura
in 1417 in a German monastery. On the Nature of Things
became all the rage among enlightened thinkers, inspiring the humanist movement, until it disappeared again. About 500 years later, Greenblatt himself discovered a paperback version of the book when he was a young man. Greenblatt spoke about why texts sleep and why they awaken.
Here is an excerpt from a 2012 PBS interview between Jeffrey Brown and Greenblatt:JEFFREY BROWN: ...In 1417, probably at the Benedictine monastery in Fulda, Germany, Poggio pulled a book from the shelf, the last surviving copy of "De Rerum Natura," "On the Nature of Things." We don't know what happened at that moment, but, somewhere, he pulls the book off the shelf and opens it, sees the title, and knows he's got something.STEPHEN GREENBLATT: He knows he's got something, and he does something crucial, which is he copies it and sends it to his friends. And they begin to copy it, so it begins to spread again.JEFFREY BROWN: So that's how things get passed on.STEPHEN GREENBLATT: Exactly.JEFFREY BROWN: The book spread, as did its ideas, to artists -- Botticelli's "Primavera" or "Allegory of Spring" portrays a scene from the poem -- to seminal thinkers, among them, Galileo, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Thomas Jefferson, who incorporated concepts such as the pursuit of happiness from Lucretius and other philosophers into his own thinking. and to the young Stephen Greenblatt.There's a passage late in the book. I want to read to you: "There are moments, rare and powerful, in which a writer long vanished from the face of the earth seems to stand in your presence and speak to you directly, as if he bore a message meant for you above all others."I mean, I couldn't help but think that this is you, in a sense.STEPHEN GREENBLATT: It is me, Jeff.First of all, it's me in relation to Lucretius, as it happens, because I happened purely by accident to come on this text at a point in my life when I was quite young, in which it spoke very powerfully directly to me. I had the eerie experience of something speaking to me, as if the person knew me. And I think anyone who has any experience of an encounter with the ghosts of the past knows what I'm talking about, where it seems impossible. And yet it's happening. After living for fifteen years in a town inhabited by the ghosts of the past, I know that feeling well. Ciao from Venezia,CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog
Mona HatoumDrowning Sorrows (wine bottles), 2004
Collezione Pier Luigi e Natalina Remotti
Courtesy Galleria Continua, San Gimignano / Beijing / Le Moulin
Photo: Ela Bialkowska
(Venice, Italy) The exhibition Fragile?
has opened in the Le Stanze del Vetro
, or Rooms for Glass, over on the Island of the Search for Truth, otherwise known as the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore. Pasquale Gagliardi, the General Secretary of the Fondazione Giorgio Cini opened his statement about the exhibition with the following poem:
|Broken Security Glass by Monica Bonvicini |
"See, in these silences when things
let themselves go and seem almost
to reveal their final secret,
we sometimes expect
to discover a flaw in Nature,
the world's dead point, the link that doesn't hold,
the thread that, disentangled, might at last lead us
to the center of a truth."
---Eugenio Montale, The Lemon Trees
(translated by William Arrowsmith)
Mario Codognato curated the show, and I thought it was genius of him to place Marcel Duchamp's Air de Paris in the same display as Ai Weiwei's Dust to Dust. In 1919, Duchamp claimed that a glass pharmacy vial was filled with the air of Paris.
Air de Paris, 1919-1939
Miniature reproduction from the original for the work “Boite-en-valise”
Collection David Fleiss, Paris
© Succession Marcel Duchamp by SIAE 2013
In juxtaposition, Ai Weiwei crushed a Neolithic vase himself and put the dusty remains inside a glass jar that you could buy at Ikea. I was stunned, and surprisingly moved, when I saw the red ceramic dust from another eon inside the contemporary glass jar. Codognato explains:
"In one of his most popular readymades, Marcel Duchamp displayed a glass ampoule titled Air de Paris (1919). Purchased from a chemist, this common use item became a real work of art thanks to the artist's intervention. In this specific case, the transparency of glass highlights the void within the item itself, paradoxically underlining the immateriality within the material world of manufactured products. Almost a century later, Dust to Dust (2009) by Ai Weiwei, in a completely opposite design, exploited the same potentialities of glass by presenting a jar filled with the dusty remains of a Neolithic (5000 - 3000 BC) vase, and through that, condensing in such a small container one of the most ancient testimonies of the linguistic and historical presence of man on earth."
|Dust to Dust by Ai Weiwei|
From the press notes: "These two works, displayed next to each other for Fragile? underline two opposite polarities in today's art world: the emancipation from history on one side, and its recovery on the other."
There are works by 28 different artists exhibited in Fragile? at Le Stanze del Vetro, which is a joint initiative of the Giorgio Cini Foundation and Pentagram Stiftung to promote 20th Century Venetian glass. [NOTE: for a discussion on this topic, please see the comments.] The Rooms for Glass is not just the physical space that houses exhibitions, but an entire enterprise going on over there on the Island for the Search for Truth, with research, seminars, archival documentation, catalogues, and technical and artistic experimentation as part of the program.
Damien Hirst (1965, Bristol, England) has got one of his famous skulls on display in Death or Glory, "a title which carries within it the ambivalence of the artist's work in the precise desire to give rise in the public to a double reaction of attraction/repulsion, to attempt a representation of human transitoriness and at the same time to proclaim the victory of science over flesh."
Death or Glory (DHS 372),
Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates
© Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved by SIAE 2013
Two of my favorite pieces were created by artists that both live and work in Turin, Giovanni Anselmo (1934, Borgofranco d'Ivrea) and Giuseppe Penone (1947, Garessio). Direzione by Giovanni Anselmo is a simple glass jar containing a magnetic needle pointing north, surrounded by a sheet. "The glass vase polarizes the universe thanks to the magnetic needle inside it."
Barra d'aria by Giuseppe Penone amplifies the noise of the outside world within the exhibition space. San Giorgio is so quiet that, in this instance, what is amplified is silence. "The noises of the polis and its political dialectics are amplified within the exhibition space."
| |Giuseppe Penone Barra d'Aria, 1969-1996Photo: Danilo DonzelliMaurizio Morra Greco Collection, Naples© Giuseppe Penone by SIAE 2013
One of the most clever works is by the African-American artist, David Hammons (1943, Springfield, Illinois). Flies in a Jar looks like a nature project that one would make for science class as a child, but on closer inspection, the "flies" in the jar are zippers that zip up the fly on a pair of pants. "The jar that makes up David Hammons' Flies in a Jar (1994), by recalling the playful childish gesture of trapping a firefly, as indicated by the title's pun, talks about the intensely critical and political power of language as isolated within the transparent boundaries of glass."
| |David Hammons Flies in a jar, 1994Pinault Collection © David Hammons
Pasquale Gagliardi said that after he read Mario Codognato's essay "The Truth in Glass" that introduces the catalogue for Fragile? -- an essay about the search for truth through glass -- he recalled that Vittore Banca (1913-2004), the former President of the Giorgio Cini Foundation, said the search for truth was the fundamental mission of the Fondazione Cini itself, calling San Giorgio "the island for the search for truth." Which is why I, as a searcher for the truth, love going over to the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, and strongly encourage all other truth-seekers to head over there yourselves.
Fragile? presents works by: Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, Mario Merz,
Gerhard Richter, Giovanni Anselmo, Jannis Kounellis, Luciano Fabro,
Barry le Va, Michael Craig-Martin, Keith Sonnier, Lawrence Weiner, David
Hammons, Gilbert & George, Joseph Kosuth, Giuseppe Penone, Mona
Hatoum, David Batchelor, Ai Weiwei, Pipilotti Rist, Rachel Whiteread,
Carsten Nicolai, Damien Hirst, Monica Bonvicini, Ceal Floyer, Cyril de
Commarque, Matias Feldbakken, Walead Beshty, Claire Fontaine
Production: Fondazione Giorgio Cini onlus and Pentagram Stiftung
Curator: Mario Codognato
Dates: 8 April – 28 July 2013
Open: 10 AM – 7 PM, closed on Wednesdays
Venue: Le Stanze del Vetro, Fondazione Giorgio Cini
Address: Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice
Ticket office: free admission
Info: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ciao from Venezia,
|Gotthard Schuh, Ragazzi in piazza San Marco, Venezia, 1963 © Gotthard Schuh / Fotostiftung Schweiz|
(Venice, Italy) Gotthard Schuh (December 22, 1897, Berlin - December 29, 1969, Zürich) began his career as a painter, but as he approached the age of thirty, he became interested in photography, and we are fortunate that he did. Schuh had two wives and two families (not at the same time), and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 51, yet managed to capture magical images throughout Europe and the island of Bali until his death, one week after his 72nd birthday.
|The seven year old daughter of the prince of Saba gives dance class, Bali, 1938 |
© Fotostiftung Schweiz, Winterthur
The Swiss Ambassador to Italy himself, Bernardino Regazzoni, was at the inauguration of the Gotthard Schuh photography exhibit here in Venice on March 22nd, which has been divided into two venues. Over at the Swiss Consulate, the exhibit concentrates on Schuh's 1938 photography in Bali titled L'isola degli dè
i, or Island of the Gods
. My paternal grandmother was of Swiss ancestry, so it was comforting to be surrounded by so many Swiss folks, who have their own special kind of energy. Amazingly, even though he was from another culture, Schuh captured the souls of the joyous island people of Bali, and offers a deep and personal view into their ceremonies and private lives.
|Gotthard Schuh, Father & Son, Bali, 1938 © Gotthard Schuh / Fotostiftung Schweiz|
At the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti at Palazzo Loredan, you will find L'Ultima Venezia
, or The Last Venice
, dedicated to Schuff's 1963 photos of Venice. I was moved by the vintage photos and how much of Venice remains eternally the same -- another group of islanders determined to preserve their way of life.
|Gotthard Schuh, La vista dal Ponte dei Sospiri, Venezia, 1963 © Gotthard Schuh / Fotostiftung Schweiz|
Gian Antonio Danieli, President of IVSLA, wrote in the Preface:
"...But Venice has demonstrated scores of times that it is capable of surviving the most ruinous tragedies and of transforming itself. Our vow is that in the midst of the great changes that characterize our age, Venice will once again prove able to transform itself, without, however, losing any of the extraordinary magic that has made it so greatly loved and celebrated over the centuries. Our hope is that Schuh's photos may enable us to rediscover some of that magic so that we can ensure it is not entirely lost."
|Gotthard Schuh, Street of Water, Venezia, 1963 © Gotthard Schuh / Fotostiftung Schweiz|
The exhibitions run daily 11am to 6pm through May 5, 2013, and admittance to both venues is free. In cooperation with the Museum of Culture, the City of Lugano, Switzerland.Gotthard Schuh Fotografie L'sola Degli Dèi
Fotografie. Bali. 1938
Palazzo Trevisan degli Ulivi
Campo Sant'AgneseL'ultima Venezia
Fotografie. Venice. 1963.
Campo Santo Stefanowww.mcl.lugano.chwww.istitutoveneto.it
Ciao from Venezia,
CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog
|The Last Gun (2012) by Costantine Zlatev Bulbaria 1974 - Winner - Sculpture|
(Venice, Italy) The prestigious Arte Laguna Art Price is now in its seventh edition, and I can remember back in 2006 when it was a fledgling, about to take flight. Since then it has grown into a major international art prize, promoting and spreading contemporary art all over the world. The prize is open to all Artists, without any limitations of age, sex, nationality or other qualifications. Each artist can participate with one or more artworks, in one or more sections. This year the 110 finalists were selected from over 8,000 applicants ranging in ages from 19 to 68 years, from 37 countries on 5 continents. The global amount of the prizes is 180,000 euros, with the five overall winners in each category -- painting, sculpture & installation, photography, video art & performance, virtual art -- awarded a cash prize of 7,000 euros.
|Boy #1 from series Boys in a City Park (2011) by Richard Ansett UK 1966 - Winner Photography|
In addition, this year Arte Laguna Prize gives eight artists the opportunity to encounter different cultures thanks to the Special Prizes “Artist-in-Residence.”
During the residencies, the artists will create new works that will be exhibited on the final open day. For the seventh edition, the art residencies will take place in Mumbai, Venice, Ptuj (Slovenia), Basel, Vicenza, and, for the first time, in Beijing.
|Detour #21 (2012) by Ivelisse Jimenez Puerto Rico 1966 - Winner Painting|
Submissions were judged by an elite panel of international jurists headed by Igor Zanti, critic and independent curator, and which included Umberto Angelini (Italy, Director of Festival Uovo), Gabriella Belli (Italy, Director of Musei Civici of Venice), Adam Budak (United States, Curator of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden of Washington), Cecilia Freschini (China, Independent Curator; founder and director of lab-Yit | the Italian Contemporary Art Platform in China), Mario Gerosa (Italy, Senior editor of AD, Digital Art Curator), Lina Lazaar (Great Britain, Expert in International Contemporary Art for Sotheby’s), Kanchi Mehta (India, Founder and Chief Curator of Chameleon Art Projects & and India Editor for Flash Art), Sabine Schaschl (Switzerland, Director and Curator of Kunsthaus Basel), Felix Schöber (Germany, Independent Curator), and Claudia Zanfi (Italy, Art Historian and Cultural Manager).
|Prodigal Son (2010) by Carlos Martiel Cuba 1989 - Winner Video Art & Performance|
The main exhibition space is at Tese di San Cristoforo, part of Arsenale Nord, where the finalists are on display through March 31, 2013. There is also a Virtual Art Section over at the Telecom Italia Future Center. and an Under25 Section at the Romanian Institute in Campo Santa Fosca. If you are here in Venice until March 31st, be sure to check it out. Entrance is free.
|I here project (1995) by Nirit Zer Israel 1973 - Winner Virtual Art|
So, all you Artists, everywhere, all over the globe, get ready for Arte Laguna Art Prize 2014. For details about the entry fee and further information, visit the Arte Laguna Art Prize site
Ciao from Venezia,
(Venice, Italy) One of the most pleasant ways to spend an evening in Venice is to enjoy classical music in an ancient venue, and there are several excellent groups that perform throughout town. Now, there is a new kid in the campo called Venice Music Project, with American soprano Liesl Odenweller center stage. It is a delightful blend of the some of the best ingredients that Italy and the USA have to offer, with the majestic church of San Giovanni Evangelista as the setting. The inaugural concert on March 1st featured music by Vivaldi, Marcello and Haendel, and Liesl was resplendent in a gown and jewelry created by the local contemporary designer, Gualti.
|Liesl Odenweller and the Venetia Antiqua Ensemble|
Venetia Antiqua Ensemble is made up of some of the most distinguished performers of Baroque music in the world, all of whom live or have studied in Venice. Individually, the musicians perform in top-quality venues, such as Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall and Musikverein, with renowned conductors -- Sir Simon Rattle, Andrea Marcon, Marc Minkowski, Alan Curtis, Sir John Eliot Gardiner -- and record with labels like Sony, Deutsche Grammophon and Towerhill. All the music is performed on original instruments or exact copies, and the choice of repertoire reaches back into the ancient past, meticulously researched and scored.
The goal of Venice Music Project is to resurrect the performance of Early Music in Venice, a tradition that dates back centuries, while, at the same time, investing a portion of the box office into restoration projects for the Church and Scuola. The Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista was one of the Venetian Republic's seven Scuole Grandi, or "Great Schools," and is dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist, whose symbol is the eagle. These "schools" were important confraternities that performed a variety of charitable functions, as well as patronizing the arts. They provided food, clothing and even burials for their poorer members, dowries to daughters, oversaw the hospitals and sponsored festivities and processions. Unlike the strictly controlled Venetian nobility, membership was open to all citizens -- in fact, no aristocrat was permitted to have a director role in a scuola. This allowed ordinary citizens to control powerful institutions, and have some level of influence upon the government. When
Philip de Mezières, the Chancellor of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Cyprus gave San Giovanni Evangelista a piece of the True Cross in 1369, its prestige was cranked up, and it transformed into a rich and powerful organization, attracting some of Venice's wealthiest and influential citizens. They commissioned some of the Republic's most important artists to create works based on a "cross" theme, including Vittore Carpaccio's Miracle of the Relic of the Holy Cross at the Rialto Bridge (The Healing of the Madman)
(1496), now in the Accademia.
In addition to the concerts of the resident orchestra, Venetia Antiqua Ensemble, Venice Music Project has created a season of Baroque music concerts, where international groups will perform the seventeenth and eighteenth century music that was celebrated in Venice. The schedule of performances, through July 2013, can be found HERE
Further information can be found at the Venice Music Project
site, in both English and Italian, where you can book in advance. Tickets (€30 full price, €20 reduced, €15 students and children under 12 free) are available at the venue itself, and at most hotels in Venice. www.venicemusicproject.it
Tel: +39 345-791-1948
Ciao from Venezia,
CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog
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(Venice, Italy) March 8th is International Women's Day, and Venice is going all out with a long weekend -- March 7 to March 10 - jammed with activities centered around the theme, with some of the city's most distinguished cultural institutions participating. One Billion Rising, that powerful, deeply moving short film you just watched, was screened yesterday at the round table entitled Immagini amiche - Il ruolo svolto dai mass-media nella costruzione dell'estetica femminile or "Friendly Images - The role played by the media in the construction of female aesthetics" over at the Ateneo Veneto.
Advertising and music videos have always sexed up the image of the female, but it has become increasingly more violent and dark in recent years. The image you see on the left, a dead woman on the top of a car, strangled by a tie held by a well-dressed man -- who is not wearing a tie -- is an ad for a Duncan Quinn suit. Quinn is a former leveraged-buyout lawyer who quit to go into fashion. His suits sell for $4,000 - $30,000. Below is a clip of Rihanna and Britney Spears singing "S&M" at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Dressed in bondage bodysuits and wearing handcuffs, the crowd roars its approval as the singers crawl around and pole dance. Some of the lyrics:
I may be bad, but I'm perfectly good at it.
Sex in the air; I don't care; I love the smell of it.
Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but chains and whips excite me.
It's violence glamorized to the max, and it is a rare female -- and often male -- performer that does not have to jump through those hoops to succeed -- everyone from Beyoncé to Christina Aguilera to Lady Gaga has promoted those type of images. It is a far cry from Aretha Franklin belting out "Respect" in 1967. Compared to the reality of the strong video from One Billion Rising
, it is a sad joke -- they have actually commercialized the idea that it's GREAT for a Black woman and
a White woman -- wearing opposite colors, of course -- to be in chains. It is an advertising campaign to sell slavery, and nothing more:
The round table was inspired by a European Parliament report of September 3, 2008 on how marketing and advertising affect equality between women and men. The EP argued that to combat gender stereotypes in the media, it would be a good idea to educate children so they would develop a critical attitude about the ads they are bombarded with. And you know what -- it's working! The young people in the audience from schools in Venice and the Veneto were intelligent, witty and talented, and had been educated to create their own positive media in response to the dark images -- another reason why I love Europe.
It was heartening that the US President signed the reauthorization of VAWA, the Violence Against Women Act, just three days ago on March 7th, despite the efforts by Congress to block it, or water it down. According to Wikipedia
, the word "billion" in the One Billion Rising
global campaign refers to the statistic that one in three women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime, or about one billion, and I am pleased that the US government has joined Europe in addressing this serious world-wide problem.
UPDATE - March 20, 2013:
"International solidarity is needed for women's empowerment and preventing this regressive mood, whether in the developing countries or developed, or in the Middle East in particular," Tallawy told two reporters afterwards. "It's a global wave of conservatism, of repression against women, and this paper is a message that if we can get together, hold power together, we can be a strong wave against this conservatism."
Tallawy, who is president of the National Council for Women-Egypt, said she has told this to Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi, who came from the Muslim Brotherhood,
"I believe in women's cause. I don't take money from the government. I work voluntarily. If they want to kick me out they can. But I will not change my belief in women," she said. "Women are the slaves of this age. This is unacceptable, and particularly in our region."
|"Star" dress by Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada|
Over at the Museo Correr ballroom, the Fondazione Museo Civici di Venezia celebrates International Women's Day with the Madrid-born Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada, who has curated a vibrant exhibition, The Trades of Fashion
, featuring her "Spring-Summer 2013" collection, which was first presented at the latest edition of the Mercedes Benz Fashion week in Madrid. The ballroom is alive with 31 of Agatha's whimsical creations, which reinterpret the icons she holds dear -- the "cage," "heart," "star," and "umbrella" dresses -- that have accompanied her throughout her 31-year career.
Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada first entered the fashion world in 1981 in Madrid, where she triumphed with her first women's collection, and soon thereafter opened her first shop. Her creations morphed into wholly artistic expressions, which were exhibited in leading galleries throughout Spain. In 1991, Agatha began issuing licenses for children's clothes, accessories, furniture and other products, and today the brand is distributed internationally. The collection will be at the Correr through May 5, 2013. The exhibition is included with the ticket that allows you entrance into the St. Mark's Square museums, so you can stop by and let some sunshine and smiles into your life, even if it's raining. Here's some more images from the collection, courtesy of the Museo Correr.
|"Cage" by Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada|
|"Heart" by Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada|
|"Umbrella" by Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada|
In a city which, in ancient times, turned a large percentage of its female population into courtesans, it is refreshing to see that in the 21st Century Venice is taking the lead in transforming the feminine image into something dynamic. On a personal level, on the Giornata della Donne
, March 8 itself, a kind and generous Venetian woman gave me the gift of going to her hairdresser, transforming my droopy locks into a fabulous do. Only a confident, compassionate woman would want to lionize another woman and make her more beautiful. This type of sacred feminine energy will transform the world.
Ciao from Venezia,
CatVenetian Cat - The Venice Blog