Thursday, August 13, 2009

Is the Venice Biennial of Art Happening? Can't Tell Here

As an artist, one of the main benefits of living in the Veneto is the fact that it is easy to visit La Biennale di Venezia (Venice Biennial), the oldest and still perhaps most prestigious international contemporary art fair. This year's 53rd International Art Exhibition, entitled "Making Worlds", opened to the public on June 7th and will run until November 22nd. From Padua, it takes less than an hour to reach Venice and start looking at the art venues around town.

The art displayed during the biennial has an enormous impact on the entire art world: discovering new talent, leading to prominent shows in other parts of the world, massive amounts of press being published in all the important art magazines, awarding career artists, highlighting a variety of curatorial work.

Despite the epic importance of this event, Padua does not display even one advertisement or billboard for it. I find this fact quite strange because many other art and cultural events have posters displayed in Padua. Off-hand, I can think of Bologna's modern art museum show, Vicenza's Palladio displays, Verona's theater performances, Bassano del Grappa's temporary exhibit, Belluno's sculpture exhibition and Ferrara's street performers' event. All of these locations are possible day-trips from town. Yet Venice's huge art biennial gets zilch exposure here, even though the cultural impact is great and the location is easily reachable.

The reason must come down to city rivalry. Padua is too proud to advertise for Venice. Paduans must figure that Venice gets enough publicity as it is. This may be true, but I doubt most Paduans realize they are missing some great art. The city could at least allow them the chance to be aware of the event, especially at its inauguration.

Another reason could be old historical tension. Padua was once ruled by the Venetian Republic, la Serenissima, and not all Paduans are not happy about that ancient control a nearby city had on their inhabitants.

Paduans proudly talk up their businesses, law school and hospital. They are not as culturally-oriented as their Venetian neighbor, as a contemporary society. Art takes a back seat to business in this part of the Veneto plains.

I just find it curious that not even a hint of a fabulously important art event in the next town over gets wall space in Padua.

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