What it means to howl in Cuba

by the-biennial-project 27. May 2018 16:26

The formal mission of The Biennial Project is to “develop a body of work that will be displayed in as many biennial exhibits as possible (especially the really cool ones)”.

Our informal mission is to raise just as much hell as humanly possible.

Rarely have these two goals dovetailed as effortlessly as during our recent participation in the 00Bienal de La Habana. The 00Bienal de La Habana took place this May, and was organized by an ad hoc coalition of Cuban artists in response to the state-organized Habana Bienal being postponed from this year to 2019 in response to very difficult economic conditions on the island.

The organizing artists took great pains to make it clear that they were not anti anything. Rather they were in favor of the necessary role that art and artists must play, ever more so in challenging times.

The 00Biennial de La Habana received no institutional funding, relying instead on the organizing artists’ Herculean efforts in pulling off a multi-venue 10 day schedule of events that showcased the art of fascinating Cuban artists as well as that of many invited international artists (including us!). It tires us out just thinking about how much work this must have entailed.

One might think that the Cuban authorities would have been just proud as punch to have these fantastic young artists taking so much responsibility and putting such a positive face forward to the world.

Unfortunately that would be the case only in the Cuba we wish existed, not in the one these artists live and work in today.

So, to sum up, we risked investigation by the U.S. State Department to travel to another country to participate in an art event that was denounced and harassed by that country’s government. We guess artists are seen as a threat just about everywhere.

And what a great fucking trip it was! Incredible! How we got so lucky to be part of it we are still not sure. Our best guess is that somewhere in our youth or childhood, we must have done something good. In any event, it was amazing. No way can we do justice to it in one post (more to come – we promise!), but here follows the CliffsNotes version.

SO many artists put themselves out there to make this happen – with the two lead organizers being just goddamned paragons of artistic and human wonderfulness – (yes of course we did Artist Trading Cards on the participating artists – again, more on that later) - Yanelys and Luis – you are really tooooo extraordinary!



The exhibitions and presentations – in artists’ homes, studios, the beach – were electric and suffused with the heady energy of direct artist to artist exchange and support. Artists just doing it, instead of waiting for the powers that be to it for them. (Not a bad idea wherever you live, we thinks.) So much fun. So much food for thought. So many new connections with artists that we are thrilled to now know about and be able to follow. A thrilling model for what a biennial exhibit can look like.


And because it was us, hanging out in a gorgeous country with intrepid (and photogenic!) co-conspirators (including our new BFF Nonardo Perea – more on him later of course), there were a few pictures.






We promise to write more, but in the meantime here are some links to other articles about this remarkable event:

Hyperallergic - The Importance of Havana’s First Alternative Biennial for the Cuban Art Scene

Artforum - Cuba Detains Artists, Threatens Participants of First Alternative Havana Biennial

Artnet - Cuba Abruptly Turns Away Artists as ‘Dozens of Agents’ Prowl Havana’s Alternative Biennial


The Biennial Project


Boston Biennial 5 Accepted Video Work

by the-biennial-project 18. March 2018 12:55

Bill Psarras, Messenger

'Messenger' constitutes a peripatetic poem, which combines site-specific elements of a walking performance for camera, the accompanying object of light bulb, personal poetry and soundscape. It explores the idea of returning to the intimate – in an imaginary and geographical matrix – as a solitary ambulatory process of transmitting the message with future potential.

China Blue Wong, Imagining Blue

“Imagining Blue” is an interactive brainwave sculpture that uses the participants’ minds to dynamically control the light, the motion and the sounds of the sculpture. This work gives the audience a previously unexplored view of the workings of their own minds. It enables users to observe their own current brain in action. The music is based on the sounds of neurons firing and breathing.

Francois-Xavier de Costerd, Maybe We'll Have Another Chance

As Trump explains how he does not believe in global warming and climate change, a simple green alpine valley turns into a theater for all threats to its pristine setting. A storm of digital flakes made of satellite views of Las Vegas, Boston, New York, London and Paris engulfs the valley. As the president declares that we should have kept the oil from Iraq, a satellite view of Baghdad hangs over the valley, quickly swallowed up by a view from Irving TX, home of the Exxon Corp. The abyss the world faces is reflected in the shell of our planet splintering into oblivion. The title double meaning echoes Trump’s wish to go back to Iraq and get the oil, but also our slim chance of fixing this crisis

Francois-Xavier de Costerd, The Death of Painting in the Age of Digital Over Production

This piece is an ode to painting inspired by Gerhard Richter's painting patterns. As a tongue in cheek Andy Warhol is interviewed by the BBC about his art practice, the production of his print screens, and how important it is to produce a lot of paintings, a digital maelstrom of paint colors ensues with infinite reproductions. Andy’s wish of painting like a machine is made real. The painting studio becomes the time studio, as Andy considers his age and mortality, his voice like a memory fading into a heavenly ether.

Kei Ito, Thirst

This work is based on the story my grandfather told me. If the death was the first thing the A-bomb gave to the people in Hiroshima, burnt flesh and unbearable thirst was the next. Many survivors jumped into a river to ease their deadly thirst though many of them were drown. By the next morning, the river was filled with bodies staring at the sky and the sun.

Tran Trong Vu, Correspondences of a solitary man

Installation of a text the artist has written for 21 days as a diary. Printed on A4 paper, and installed under fluorescent light.

Barbara Felix, Ribbon Dancer

A short experimental stop motion animation shot with green screen on a small green screen stage built for upcoming claymation animation work. I used transparent wide glittery ribbon that gave unanticipated but interesting results. It has original music created with Garage Band on my iPhone. It was edited with Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, Premier Pro and Audition.

Farzin Foroutan, Topography of soil emerge

To me, soil is the first abstraction of an archive; something more than what you walk and lie on. Soil is the memory of centuries; the archive of the memory of humankind; and when my body unites with it, I can experience those memories.

Farzin Foroutan, Anonymous Doors

Belonging to nowhere. Somewhere between the outside and inside.Among mute reality and blind imagination. Here could be an exact place not belonging to us but hence is closer than anywhere. Unknown and exotic places seem more familiar from faraway and between the doors.

Crystal Heiden, iceland on icleand

in this video I combine multiple fragments pulled from a single take while driving down a single road passing a single mountain to examine the landscape at all angles of that singular place

Dimitrije Martinovic, The Contorted Regard

At the heart of THE CONTORTED REGARD is the notion that the “rant” may be used as a method of explicating the prevalence of existential threats. Which is to say that the rant is in essence a form of purging of that, which is unwanted, that which we are haunted by - the rant is arrogance and mediocrity combined with pride, shame, and fear.

Elizabeth Michelman, CHANGE

A proselytizing church door beckons; a laundromat buzzes and thumps; snowbanks light up as cars blink past in the cacophony of an ordinary New England town on a winter’s night. Our pilgrim traverses the workaday world ---profane, tedious, grating, yet marked with moments of transcendence. Written language posted at the scene escorts us through and returns us to our own lives----changed?


artist as model riffing on 1. prehistory art when humans used their skin as canvas; 2. the work of Yves Klein, early pioneer of performance art 3. fingerprinting in the police station 4. sports fans painting their faces, etc, to show support of teams

Laura Torres, LOS HIJOS DE PAPÁ INOCENCIO (The Children of Papa Inocencio)

A family fights and schemes over who will be buried in a mausoleum built by their grandfather, after they discover that the mausoleum has historical significance.


Boston Biennial 5 Accepted Artist List

by the-biennial-project 17. March 2018 14:27

Here is the list of accepted work for BB5 – excluding video work (we will post that list in next 2 days).

Leigh Yardley, Relic  
Leigh Yardley,  The Tallette is Dry  
Coral Woodbury,  Mend 
Coral Woodbury,The New Dictionary of Thoughts  Standard Book Co. 1954: Heaven 
China Blue Wong, Mind
Michelle Woitzel, Intrigue 
Carolyn Wirth, Earthly Paradise 
Katie Wild, A Shocking Turn of Events  
Jesse Wiedel, The Dark Side 
Paul Weiner, Night in Venice 
Lars Vilhelmsen, moment and rest I 
paul Valadez, sopa albino  
paul Valadez, tener un punto 
Tran Trong Vu, The meeting point Installation  
Tran Trong Vu, A partition of chance Painting/Drawing  
NANCY CHEE-KWAN TONG, Unpredictable Series - White 2017 
Keith Tang, 2001 
David Stickney, Godzilla vs Rockport 
Michael St.Germain, untitled 
Michael St.Germain, untitled  
Qing Song, Cigarette Girls 3  
Marlene Siff, Septet   
Roxanna Sierra, Bridge # 1 
George Shaw, UNTITLED 
George Shaw, UNTITLED  
Victoria Schepps, Subway Breakdancers  
joan ryan, Life on the Noon
joan ryan, Card Games 
joan ryan, Escaping the Rabbit Hole 
Alexandra Rozenman, Moving in with Winslow Homer 
Thomas Roth, No-183
Thomas Roth, No-152 
Ruth Rosner, GUARDIANS AT THE GATE Women Who Witness Series 
Ruth Rosner, THE RUINS OF THE FAMILIAR [What Resonated] Refugee Women Series 
Ruth Rosner, ECHOES OF VOICES [Broken Steps] Refugee Women Series/On the Journey
Lisa Reindorf, Neon Isles   
Lisa Reindorf, Neon City 
Bill Psarras, To the Unknown Place   
Alison Pruchansky,  Fleur-tile 7 
R. Prost, Veritas No. 47 
Kevin Porter, resolve 
Heather Park Hanlon, ChurchFire - An Installation view 2 
CHRISTINE PALAMIDESSI, The Prometheus Lights   
CHRISTINE PALAMIDESSI, Releasing Blackbirds from Left Shoulder   
Ozlem Ayse Ozgur, Death of A Refugee   
Ozlem Ayse Ozgur, Hometown Left Behind   
paul ott, woods hole  
Jean Noon, Inside Outside 
Erica Nazzaro, Tiny Cabin   
Jeannie Motherwell, Chrysalis  
Jeannie Motherwell, Sol 
Matthew McKee,  Honey Doo! 
Matthew McKee, First Place Burn   
Matthew McKee, Breakfast of Champions 
J Fredric May, Author's Hallucination No. 3 "Les" 
Cynthia Maurice, FIGURE 1 
Dave Martsolf, Windows of Allegory 
Virginia Mahoney, Make-Shift Work Vest
Adamo Macri, Phenotype Bardo  
Madeleine Lord, CORE 
Samantha Lindsay, You Will Get There  
Charlie Lemay, A. I.  
Myung Hwan LEE, Dead hero 
Myung Hwan LEE,  wearing aquarium  
Louise Laplante,  Ancient  Original  Modern Fables and Hares 
Jean-Francois Lanthier, Speak from the heart  
Kristin Krimmel, Site Warrior 
Kristin Krimmel, Yellow Construction Fence 
Kristin Krimmel, Spectacles
Laura Krasnow, Dark Matter #8   
Laura Krasnow, The Day The Earth Stood Still  
Kara Krantz, Vestiges  
Kara Krantz, Fractured  
Kara Krantz, Shattered  
Walter Kopec, The Last Dog Eats Alone (small)   
Walter Kopec, Helping Make America Great Again (PRO/CON STITUTION)  
Walter Kopec, Neighborly Lifestyles of the Richer and Thinner [ENVY] 
Lee Kilpatrick, Easter Dinner 
Lee Kilpatrick, Watching The Olympics   
Marjorie Kaye, MESSAGES  
Marjorie Kaye, SPIDER HATCHERY   
MARCO JIMENEZ, Shirley tempera 
MARCO JIMENEZ, Imperatrix reflexionis 
Kei Ito, Infertile American Dream (Installation shot)  
Joan Bemel Iron Moccasin, Distance Pain  Aerie Lake Cabin  
Clint Imboden, broken "crutch bottoms"  
Clint Imboden, flowers 
Crystal Heiden, Mountains 5 
Susan Harmon, before her mind broke 
Al Harden, brown Targets Bleed Red 
Al Harden, We Are One II 
Leigh Hall, Emerson Woods 
Leigh Hall, Meded Stones
Erik Gehring, Paperbark Maple 
hal gage, Abstraction #3  
Faith Gabel, Dot's Life  
Diane Francis, Old and New  
farzin foroutan, I'm not here  Even not there 
farzin foroutan, I'm not here  Even not there  
Lynda Fatalo, For Rent 
Catherine Evans, Thistle - Carbone Park Maynard 
Catherine Evans, Electric Blue
Tom Estes, Escape Velocity Jellyfish In Space  
Barbara Eskin, CUT OUT/TWOSOME 
Sigrid Ehemann, Style Tips for the Invisible Woman   
Sigrid Ehemann, Style Tips for the Invisible Woman   
Sigrid Ehemann, Style Tips for the Invisible Woman  
Steven Edson, Urban Walls 05   
Katharine Dufault, Evening Walk  
Gary Duehr, Arena: Capt. America   
Gary Duehr, Arena: Fuck You  
Chloe DuBois, Systemic Tension  
Chloe DuBois, Agitated Potential 
Darlene DeVita, Be Here Now Havana Cuba 
Darlene DeVita, Cambodia 2017 
Anna C Curtin, Technicolor Rain   
Marie Craig, Beijing Archway 3   
Gay Cox, Psalm 56  
Gay Cox, Psalm 143:3 4 6 
Christine Comeau, Rituels   
Christine Comeau, Mutations/Rituels
Christine Comeau, Mutations  
Christine Comeau, Inventer le pays  
Yvonne Cilia, Let Me Walk With You 
Ben Carroll, Seat Taken  
Joe Carpineto, Walk-about  
patricia burson, House #55 
Karen Burgess, Terracotta Trooper   
Karen Burgess, Treeform 2   
Karen Burgess, Digital Cowboy
Maggi Brown, The Disconnect   
Maggi Brown, Red Glow 
Jan Brandt, Detail  Happy Contagion 
Jan Brandt, Art Baby 
Jan Brandt, Happy Contagion  
Ryan Bouchard, Untitled  
Jo-Ann Boback, Audacious 
William Bloomfield, Untitled4 
John Blom, The Loop 
Markus Blaus, Chicago Shower  
Markus Blaus, Pompei Charlie  
Lois Bennett, Complicated Spirit   
David R  Banta, Umbrella Lady
Manss Aval, Fifth Dimension  
Stephanie Arnett, Shine  
Stephanie Arnett, Puppeteers 
Stephanie Arnett, Native Structures 4244.8
Jelena, Abstract blue  Sea and the sky
Jelena Antic,  Will You Follow? IV 
Anne Anicet. Linhas à Mostra 6  
Anne Anicet. Linhas à Mostra 3 
Julie Angela Theresa, Nope 
Julie Angela Theresa, Paint Me 
Nancy Anderson, Portrait of a Jack Russell 
Nancy Anderson, Hydrocodone 
Jessica Andersen, Quick  Act Happy! Paint
B Amore, Canterbury Pilgrims 
B Amore, Tree of Life detail 
Dorette Amell, More Alike than Not Alike 
Sara Amato-Gentric,
The kiss


a valentine for you…..

by the-biennial-project 11. February 2018 16:44

The Biennial Project LOVES LOVES LOVES “living these lives in art” as our close friend Jerry Saltz calls it. No joke, seriously, he actually said that. To us. About us. His exact words were “I truly envy you all for these lives lived in art…” We know it sounds just like something that we would make up, but in this case we did not have to. Seriously.

Anyway, back to the lives lived in art thing. The current project of these lives lived in art is our fifth edition of the Boston Biennial. We are getting to experience and promote SO MUCH EXCELLENT ART! We are thrilled to be able to share it with you and everyone out there.

We had planned on closing for submissions on this Wednesday February 14th, but because our inboxes are full of requests for extensions (we get it, we can never finish stuff on time either – we think it’s an artist thing), we have decided to extend the deadline to March 1st. Consider it our valentine to everyone who has been thinking about entering but has yet to get to it. So keep those amazing entries coming, we can’t wait to see your work!


In the meantime, here are some very cool recent entries that strike us as in the spirit of St. Valentine’s Day.


Mend, by Coral Woodbury


Speak from the heart, by Jean-Francois Lanthier


Defende, by James Wodarek


No-77, by Thomas Roth


Helping Make America Great Again (PRO/CON STITUTION), by Walter Kopec


The Biennial Project


more great work being submitted to the Boston Biennial 5…….

by the-biennial-project 5. February 2018 16:42


Darlene DeVita


Hal Gage


Clint Imboden


Madeleine Lord


Jean Noon


Heather Park Hanlon



from the U.S. to Quebec to Greece to Korea to Australia……

by the-biennial-project 14. January 2018 13:10

More exceptional work

being submitted to the

Boston Biennial 5

Extraordinary art from

artists around the world:


          Coral Woodbury, Massachusetts


          Joan Ryan, Massachusetts


          Ruth Rosner, Massachusetts


          Crystal Heiden, Connecticut       

             WATCH VIDEO HERE


          Christine Comeau, Quebec, Canada


          Bill Psarras, Greece



          Myung Hwan LEE, South Korea


          Karen Burgess, Australia

Enter the Boston Biennial 5



from MA to NY to NE to CA to IRAN…….

by the-biennial-project 25. December 2017 17:19

SO MUCH COOL WORK being submitted to the

Boston Biennial 5

Wonderful work from artists NEAR -



Chrysalis by Jeannie Motherwell, see more HERE


Honey Doo!  by Matthew McKee, see more HERE 


Neighborly Lifestyles of the Richer and Thinner [ENVY] by Walter Kopec, see more HERE




Evening Walk by Katharine Dufault, see more HERE



Intrigue by Michelle Woitzel, see more HERE



The Dark Side by Jesse Wiedel, see more HERE

and across the ocean FAR (IRAN)


I'm not here, Even not there by Farzin Foroutan, see more HERE




Call to Entry for the Boston Biennial 5

by the-biennial-project 23. November 2017 12:02

Building on the very positive critical response to 2016's Boston Biennial 4, The Biennial Project is excited to announce that Boston Biennial 5 will be unveiled in the Spring of 2018. Check out the reviews of BB4 here.

Boston Biennial 5 will be juried by the internationally feared artists of The Biennial Project, who will pick prizewinners in the categories of 1) photography, 2) painting/drawing, 3) sculpture, 4) installation, 5) video, 6) performance, 7) mixed media/collage and 8) other.



Reasons To Enter:
- All accepted work will be shown in digital galleries on The Biennial Project website.
- Selected work promoted on Biennial Project Blog postings reaching over 40,000 subscribers.
- Many received entries are highlighted on our social media and in our blog.
- A large screen digital presentation of all accepted work will be shown at Atlantic Works Gallery in April 2018 as part of The Biennial Project's Manifest Destiny exhibition.
- The pieces chosen by the jurors as first prizewinners from these categories (as well as one piece to be chosen for a Special Juror's Prize by a celebrity juror to be announced) will be shown physically in the gallery in this show as well.


We know (from hard experience) that artists just love to wait until the last possible moment to respond to calls for entry. But there are great reasons to break from this time-honored tradition and enter the Boston Biennial 5 early.

You will have a much better chance of having your work promoted as part of the publicity for Boston Biennial 5. We feature an entry of the day every day during the entire entry period - sending a chosen image out on Facebook to our foillowing of 4000 people- and linking to the entrant's website or facebook page. Additionally, we send out Entry Sampler Email Blasts several times during the lead up to the contest, highlighting some of the most interesting work that we have received. Near the end of the entry period we are swamped with the number of replies, whereas at the beginning is much slower - greatly increasing your chances of being included in one of these publicity vehicles. Not to mention that your image could be selected to appear on a postcard or a poster for Boston Biennial 5.


So while we don’t guarantee you instant fame and fortune, you do get a heck of a lot of lot of promotion work for your buck (only $25 for 3 entries). ENTER NOW, we can’t wait to see your work! So enter now! See the impressive entries from our latest contests. Do it!



The Biennial Project Venice Biennale 2017 Artist Trading Cards

by the-biennial-project 11. November 2017 12:28

For those days in Venice we walked down streets so beautiful as to defy description, enjoyed the unfathomable generosity of spirit of the Italians, drank from fountains of prosecco, shared the company of our dearest friends and co-conspirators, swam in an ocean of art, and most importantly lived as artists citizens of some parallel possible world where all countries hold sacred the role of art and artists in defining and maintaining our common humanity. We did (for once) not think about the terror of our current reality, but about the tremulous joy of being alive.

Yep, it was good. And as we now approach the closing of the 2017 Venice Biennale, we’d like to share a few of the artist profiles we did of participating 2017 VB artists. Enjoy them, and if you would like to have your own deck of over 50 artist profiles, let us know and we can send you one for cost plus shipping.

XXOO, The Biennial Project



















PAGE lastxxxxx


Venice Biennial 2017 What We Saw, What We Liked in Summary

by the-biennial-project 7. October 2017 15:53

Breaking news – being an artist is hard.

We’re generally broke, and when we do come by a little money, we usually spend it on stuff to make more art, which perplexes the normal people around us.

And making art means being immersed in the reality of the human experience, which – spoiler alert – sort of sucks these days.

That’s why this particular group of artists gets together every two years to travel to an imaginary land – one in which all the nations of the earth meet in a place of hallucinatory beauty and grandeur to make and experience art, art, and more art.

We mean Venice of course. We went in May, and it was a salve for the soul, as usual. We couldn’t see everything that we wanted to see, as usual. We allowed ourselves to harbor a tiny dream of going back to see more in the fall after the crowds were gone, as usual. There is no way we are going to be able to make that plan work, as usual. [SOUND EFFECT: deep resigned sigh.]

So we’re going to have to make do with our memories. Here are some new WHAT WE LIKED posts, and links to some of the older ones.

Enjoy the read, keep working, and send us plans for art trips we can do together to warm our collective souls.

INTUITION at Palazzo Fortuny

by Coral Woodbury, for The Biennial Project


When you reach the end of what you should know, you will be at the beginning of what you should sense.” Kahlil Gibran

“When the body functions spontaneously, that is called instinct. When the soul functions spontaneously, that is called intuition.” Shree Rajneesh

Peter Greenaway's installation at Palazzo Fortuny during the 1993 Venice Biennale left such an impression on me that the one thing I knew heading to Venice was that I would return to the Palazzo. Even in Venice this is a unique space, embodying faded and decaying grandeur while preserving the home and collections of Mariano Fortuny, an early twentieth-century stage, fashion, and lighting designer. So the house is a stage set of sorts, and one an artist like Greenaway knew how to animate eerily.

As it turned out, I was in time for the sixth and last collaboration of Axel Vervoordt, Belgian antiquarian, art dealer, interior designer and curator, and Daniela Ferretti, Director of Palazzo Fortuny. Intuition was absolutely worth the 25 year wait. READ MORE

The Irish Pavilion

by Anne Murray, for The Biennial Project

“My broken bones shall be a weapon, chaos is the bread I eat!”


photo of Jesse Jones’ installation by Anne Murray

With an impressive sense of dignity, profound understanding of the human condition, and in full knowledge of the challenge that women face in a rapidly morphing set of boundaries created through elusive and divisive judiciary systems in Ireland and abroad, Jesse Jones has created a meta world which challenges the legal system, where what we think and see implores us to react and evolve or suffer the vile subsistence living that will ensue in the storm of chaos unleashed in the form of women forced to take justice into their own hands.

Tremble, Tremble, curated by Tessa Giblin, is more than a pavilion, it is a space between, a space possessed by magic and where fears take shape in an unearthly form, as a human buried under the bog, preserved in flesh, but morphed, shape shifted into something beyond comprehension.

Here, women have an enormous tempest of power controlled only by the force of the black hole of the body of Olwen Fouéré, as a photon encircling and drawn into it only when encountered by the the Higgs boson particle, a weight that gives our thoughts as light mass, and thus, slows us down; we are trapped in this hole with her, as if time would stop or else become eternal, both one in the same. READ MORE

The Mongolian Pavilion

by Victor Salvo for The Biennial Project


photo by Victor Salvo

Lost in Tngri

Fire. The Sun is Heaven sent. The Sunfire makes the pastures grow the pasture grass. The sun droughts up the land or runs away for too long. Cattle sheep ram lamb burn to black. Fire lovemaking sperm seek along the skulls.

Fire droughts up the land. Circling us. Cooking us. Sits down on a lone fire red fish still alive, Sun, still swimming above the scorched economic lines.

Fire. Fire your weapon straight and true. The scope tells you where to aim. Fire molds the bronze. Fire curves the barrel. Water remembers and walks the rifle after rifle, a flock of the ungainly.

Water flows in a ribbon, flows the trees, rivers come from Tngri, the gods, down from the sky, up to the sky.


photo by Paul K. Weiner


by Charlene Liska, originally published in the North End Waterfront

The Biennial Project at Spazio TanaIl Mondo Magico (photos courtesy The Biennial Project)

In this era of biennials, The Venice Biennale, the vast international art festival begun in 1895, is the grandmother of them all. While Venice is revered for it’s great Renaissance and earlier art, the Biennale has always managed to feature avant-garde and contemporary art, and somehow the contrast enlivens both worlds.

I attended the first week of the Venice Biennale with an East Boston-based arts organization, “The Biennial Project” which began about 10 years ago as a send-up of the many pretensions of the art world and has since grown into a world-wide network of people who care a lot about art and not at all about the pretensions. The BP stages its own counter-biennials, including one in Marfa, Texas and four Boston Biennials that have been held here locally, last in 2016. These people are the most serious fun around!

This year, in addition to attending the official Biennale, the Boston-based organization held its own parallel Venice event that featured several hundred artists from across the globe. Participating artists included German-born painter-sculptor Artemis Herber, Florida-based photographer Barbara Revelle, videographer Tom Corby from London, and Zsolt Asztalos, who represented Hungary in the official 2013 Biennale but who chose this year to appear in the Boston organization’s parallel event instead. Poetry, in English and Italian, was recited, locals and visitors confabbed, words and prosecco flowed liberally. One couldn’t really say it was a bit of Boston in Venice; it was more like a bit of the world, that had come together under prompting from Boston on a dark night in a Venice neighborhood to talk, and drink, and talk some more about art, because they admired the weird and interesting spirit of the Biennale and the art works that were on display.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: CLICK HERE to see the galleries of beautiful work exhibited in ArtVenice Biennial IV.]

And there were some stunning pieces in the Venice Biennale, not least, the small old wooden country house with holes in its roof that was imported in its entirety from the Republic of Georgia, down through which the artist, Chachkhiani, caused artificial rain to pour unceasingly, covering everything inside with dripping water; it captured everyone’s worst fear about waking up in the middle of the night to hear water dripping, and finding that somehow a hole has opened up in the roof — in this case many holes! — and the rain is starting to come in. And in the Italian pavilion, Il Mondo Magico, an exhibit which showed an assembly line in which simulated dried and mummified life-sized corpses of Christ were manufactured from plastic materials and then were heated in ovens and allowed to molder, and then, once finished, were broken into large pieces and displayed, in more or less random order, on a dark wall. It was about imitation versus reality, yes, and the almost unbelievable power of technology, but also about magic, and how and why people hope, and the power of belief. Of course, there were more conventional pieces too, in their hundreds; but this gives you an idea.

About timing, for anyone who might be thinking of attending — and it’s well worth going to see! — it makes a Venice trip even more dramatic than it would otherwise be. Either go early, as I did this year, in May, for the excitement of the crowds and the fun of getting there first, or otherwise consider waiting till late in the year — say, October month — which can be exquisite too, since the fact that there are no crowds then means you can actually see and enjoy and understand things in your own good time.

And full marks to “The Biennial Project”: they’re projecting Boston onto the global arts scene in a singular way, and they do it basically because, being artists themselves, they can’t help it. These people are living to make, and view, and talk about art. Interesting way to live.

The Taiwanese Pavilion

by Barbara Jo Revelle, for The Biennial Project


Ok, I’ll admit this up front. I’m wildly attracted to durational performance art. I do it myself sometimes. Not so long ago, as part of an art installation scrutinizing my father’s big game hunting practice, I walked continuously - eight hours a day, seven days a week, for two weeks - on a treadmill set up in a gallery. I stopped only to take pees. While I moved I edited 100+ hours of my father’s old hunting films and videos - mostly shots of him watching game from blinds, hanging cut up animal parts baits in trees, or posing with dead animals and the African natives who helped him track and kill them. This footage was projected onto the gallery walls in front of me as I walked and worked. READ MORE



The Biennial Project


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