Daniel Arsham's Star Wars character in the Chiesa di Santa Caterina © The Art Newspaper
Daniel Arsham, Venice 3024
Chiesa di Santa Caterina, Venice, until 15 September
Marty McFly and Doc Brown had to employ a flux capacitor and 1.21 gigawatts of power to travel in time: all you need to do is to visit the deconsecrated church of Santa Caterina. Here, works by the American artist Daniel Arsham “blur the boundaries between epochs and [engineer] a profound sense of dislocation”, according to the wall text. Viewers should be prepared to “interrogate their bearings amidst a ceaseless flux of epochs”.
This chronological consternation is achieved by Arsham’s trademark casts of classical sculptures, which now have crystals growing in them to represent the passage of time. The motif is extended to faithfully recreated Star Wars characters—apparently made in collaboration with Lucasfilm. Other works transpose more classical sculptures with anime girls. There’s also a sculpture of that time-travelling car from Back to the Future: you might wish you could hop in it to get your time back after seeing this show.
Federico Solmi, Ship of Fools
Palazzo Donà dalle Rose, Fondamente Nove 5038
Federico Solmi's Ship of Fools © The Art Newspaper
Donald Trump, Elon Musk and Kim Kardashian—probably some of the people you least would like to get stuck on a boat with. But the Italian-born, New York-based artist Federico Solmi has welcomed them all aboard his “ship of fools”. They appear in lurid video works, jerking back and forth like crazed marionettes. They also spring to life as ceramic heads, a hologram and a VR work. Other paintings strip back the characters’ skin to reveal the polygons that make the digital models.
In a Biennale of complex and nuanced identity politics, Solmi’s carnivalesque satire is a shock to the system. Whether it’s a welcome surprise is another question. Interspersed with Solmi’s exhibition in the Palazzo Donà dalle Rose is the Cameroon pavilion, a mixed bag of work which struggles to compete.
Paola Buratto Caovilla, No More Time Venezia
Personal Structures—Beyond Boundaries, Marinaressa Gardens
Paola Buratto Caovilla, No More Time Venezia © The Art Newspaper
Any artist who deals with ecological issues in their work risks being accused of hypocrisy: producing, shipping and exhibiting art comes with a significant carbon footprint. As Venice's ancient palazzos can attest, global warming needs urgent action—but we are way past the time for obvious statements. In Paola Buratto Caovilla's No More Time Venezia, the words "Life is beautiful" and "Eco SOS", are emblazoned in thick paint on a metallic model of the Earth, with what appears to be streaks of green blood dripping down the sides. It is one of a number of works in this show that "bring attention to the discourse about climate change, greenwashing and sustainability", according to a statement. But it tells us nothing new to shift our perspective. The best thing the artist could have done for the environment would have been to not make this work in the first place.
Manolo Valdés, Las Meninas a San Marco (until 15 June)
Piazza San Marco
Manolo Valdés, Las Meninas a San Marco © The Art Newspaper
All roads seem to lead back to St Mark’s Square in Venice, which unfortunately means all roads take you to a prime example of clunky contemporary sculpture that is scaring the locals. The sculptural project entitled Las Meninas a San Marco, by the Spanish artist Manolo Valdés, is frightening and delighting, in equal measure, children, tourists and dogs who seem to like weeing on the black effigies. The 13 bronze sculptures lined up near the Doge’s Palace are inspired by the celebrated 1656 painting Las Meninas by Velázquez who may well have loved (or loathed) the formidable handmaidens looking out to the lagoon.
Claude Lalanne, Pair of 'sphinxes' (2000)
Planète Lalanne, Palazzo Rota Ivancich, until 3 November
Claude Lalanne, Pair of "Sphinxes" (2000)
© The Art Newspaper
Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne created some of the most coveted sculptures of modern times, and yet what is not discussed enough is how utterly terrifying a large proportion of their output actually was. Walking into the first-ever Venetian show of their work is a little like entering a horror-film pet shop: there are fish with cavernous holes in their bellies, a bulgy eyed grasshopper “bar” and baguettes marching on two rows of human feet. Nothing, however, quite says “burn it with fire” like this pair of baby-faced sphinxes resting in the “Salle à Manger”. These works, according to a statement, recall “the taste for innocence in Claude’s imaginary world”. Where exactly the innocence lies in these death-eyed toddlers with hairy paws is not immediately clear.
I'm Not Afraid of Ghosts
Palazzo Tiepolo Passi, until 22 September
An installation view of I’m Not Afraid Of Ghosts at the Palazzo Tiepolo Passi Image courtesy of TCollection and Malevich.io.
The exhibition I'm Not Afraid of Ghosts features works by many household names, but the relationship between these pieces and the space they inhabit feels like a passing thought. The show is made up of works from the impressive private collection of Tatiana Fileva, a young Russian collector (and the daughter of the late airline tycoon Natalya Filyova, one of Russia’s wealthiest women). It is staged at a palazzo on Venice’s Grand Canal, making the experience of walking through the show feel utterly special. But while the show claims to be “exploring parallels between cyclical histories and the female body”, the theme isn’t always clear. Even incredible paintings and sculptures by acclaimed artists such as Cecily Brown, Marlene Dumas, Issy Wood, Tracey Emin and Jenny Holzer seem randomly put together, without context or a clear running narrative. We hope the collection continues to be shown publicly in exhibitions with the curation the stirring pieces deserve.
Tom Herck, Once We Ruled the World
Palazzo Balbi Valier garden
Tom Herck's Once We Ruled the World in Venice
Courtesy of BeCulture
A ten-metre-tall human skeleton dangling the remains of a dinosaur from a fishing rod looms ominously over the Grand Canal, near the Ponte dell'Accademia. The work is by the Belgian artist Tom Herck and is part of his Once We Ruled the World series that, according to the organisers, “metaphorically emphasise[s] human ego and vanity”—which may also be the reason for placing such an eyesore in front of one of the most beautiful views in Venice. The premise seems to be that dinosaurs once ruled the world and now humans do—but not for much longer. Looking at this work, however, it would seem that going extinct might not be such a bad thing.