The Biennial Project Brings You the Venice Biennale 2017 One Pavilion at a Time – Georgian Pavilion

by the-biennial-project 31. May 2017 10:43

Georgia Pavilion -  Living Dog Among Dead Lions by Vajiko Chachkhiani

"While someone is among the living, hope remains, thus it is better to be a living dog than to be a dead lion." Ecclesiastes 9:4.

photo by Paul Weinerphoto by Paul Weiner

I have one rule about looking at art, and that is to always look at it first. Only if I like something about it I will then proceed to the artist's statement. Of course I know that art can be deepened by words of explanation, but call me old-fashioned in insisting that no amount of grad-school parlance can conjure something into being from work that is not compelling on it's own.

This rule has served me especially well at the fire hose of art that is the Venice Biennale, where one must have some kind of system to have any hope of progressing through such a bewildering amount of work. Artistic projects large and small (mostly large) come flying by so furiously that one can be forgiven for wondering if the resurrection itself might pass by unnoticed in such an environment. But then again, any kind of resurrection worth seeing would be able to get your attention anywhere, wouldn't it?

Of course it would. Faith, ye pilgrim.

And so it was that while winding my way through the seemingly unending procession of art installations that is exhibited in the Venice Arsenale during the Biennale, I suddenly came upon this house. This sad old rundown broken-hearted hill house, someplace where all your sad old rundown brokenhearted ancestors toiled and dreamed and then, well, died. A house that is pitch perfect in it's melancholy evocation of life and loss. And in a masterful inversion of all the adolescent let's-play-with-water-because-it's-Venice-after-all-and we-are-so-you-know-site-specific (here's looking at you Canadian Pavilion), it is raining inside the house. Nice and sunny and prosecco-laden outside, but raining forever inside the little house. Forever, or for at least for the six months that the Venice Biennale runs. You can smell the rich earthy decay already, and this was just the first week. What's more, whoever brought us this delightfully doleful house of perpetual rain clearly welcomes us here, because they have provided wonderful little step ladders around the house so that we can climb up and peep in the windows, and look and smell and hear in the rain that sacred elegiac music that is always playing just outside the reach of our conscious minds. l love this doomed and sweetly mournful little house, which speaks such volumes on the wounds we live with deep inside. I will gladly read whatever words this artist has for us.

More sweet surprises! The words are wonderful. Almost as lovely as the house itself, which is the work of Georgian artist Vajiko Chachkhiani, and is Georgia's official contribution to this Venice Biennale. The brochure which accompanies the installation is dedicated to an interview with the artist, and in it one learns that he had the idea for such a house and went searching in the Georgian countryside until he found the perfect abandoned property up in the mountains. He then brought the entire house to Venice where he re-assembled it along with all it's original furnishings. The interview is as direct and wise and unpretentious as the work - extraordinary for an artist who is only 32 years old. He must be an old soul. I am happy he is young in this life though, because that means that with luck we can follow his work for years to come.

In the meantime, I'm out to walk my beloved live dogs in a nourishing spring-time rain.

Viva el arte!

Anna Salmeron, for The Biennial Project


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