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Venice in Venice: Glow & Reflection – Venice California Art from 1960 to the Present. 54th Venice Biennale

A Father and Son skateboarding deuce skid paint from the skateboard to canvas covered quarter pipes? A street zine is offered to me from the street? A brazen and brightly coloured gondolier paddles through pea green Venetian waters? Andy Warhol’s silver pillows sway on a palazzo ceiling as Courtney Love croons covers a short distance away in the gardens of a medieval Palazzo…? I know I am in Venice, but which Venice? I am in Venice in Venice.

Venice in Venice (VinV) descends with an upbeat West Coast attitude ambitiously exchanging one Venetian history for another – Venice Beach, CA for La Serenissima. The principal exhibition of VinV is VENICE IN VENICE: Glow & Reflection – Venice California Art from 1960 to the Present, at the Palazzo Contarini Dagli Scrigni, located in Dorsoduro on the Grand Canal. VinV is a collateral event as part of Illuminations, 54th Venice Biennale and is curated by Timothy Nye and Jacqueline Miro.

Installing modern works within antiquated private mansions is a challenge and at points the Palazzo Contarini Dagli Scrigni’s decadent baroque façade can be unintentionally overpowering when juxtaposed with the clean, purist works of 60s and 70s cool Cali Art. However, Larry Bell’s glass and steel box-like structures are resplendent cast against a sequence of burnished medieval mirrors and James Turrell’s Cross Corner Projection. Light and shadow artist Laddie John Dill’s Light Light Sentences and Red Tide light installations are exalted in the dark lower vaults of the Palazzo.

VinV promotes Southern Californian art away from the New York art scene As Timothy NYE’s surmises, “You have to go East to go West”, in order to create a dialogue with its East Coast and European counterparts. The curators describe the exhibition as a ‘homage’ to experimental art in the California in early 50s to late 70s, celebrating seminal L.A. artists that revolutionized the West Coast art scene, but who are relatively unknown on a broader international scale.

Artists in the VinV exhibition include Peter Alexander, John Altoon, Charles Arnoldi, Billy Al Bengston, Larry Bell, Tony Berlant, Wallace Berman, Vija Celmins, Bruce Conner, Ron Cooper, Mary Corse, Laddie John Dill, Joe Goode, Robert Graham, George Herms, Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman, John McCracken, Ed Moses, Kenneth Price, Ed Ruscha, and James Turrell.

Other off-site events under the VinV umbrella include Works in Motion, a one night event held in Campo San Polo on June 4th, where the legendary Father-Son duo, Steve and Alex Olson, make a live contemporary art piece by skateboarding paint on two installed quarter pipes while a live band The Frank Lobina Band & Ty LeBlanc played in the background. There also a Gondoliers project where the curators worked with Quiksilver to brazenly revamp derelict gondoliers into interactive art sculptures reminiscent of the 50s Hot Rod. VinV also produced the first publication of ‘Swell’, a street-style zine featuring oral histories by Tibby Rothman, essays by C.R. Stecyk with original artwork by Jim Evans.

VinV is supported by Foundation 20 21 and the Getty Foundation, as a prequel to the exhibition, Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, from October 1st presenting the genesis of the Los Angeles art scene with the collaboration of more than sixty cultural institutions across Southern California.

VENICE IN VENICE: Glow & Reflection – Venice California Art from 1960 to the Present.  Palazzo Contarini Dagli Scrigni until July 31st 2011.


Images from top. 1. Gondoliers.  2. Palazzo Contarini Dagli Scrigni. 3. Larry Bell: Untitled.  4. Laddie John Dill: Red Tide.    5. Steve and Alex Olsen: Works in Motion.

Text: Nadine Talalla


Visual Artist based in London, U.K. whose artistic practise is explores identity issues through visual media. Nadine Talalla works working predominantly in video and painting.


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