‘Making Worlds’ by losing your way…

That is a surprisingly romantic title for an enormous international art show – ‘Making Worlds – Fare Mondi’… Right from the day it was announced I knew I got to see it.

In a strange way that name referred to my own idea of art as a device for creating universes, for inventing new realities and new ways of perception of what is ‘known’ and ‘familiar’… To see how very different artists from tens of countries address this very issue right now; and to experience it in one place within only few days of an intense take – that sounded like a dream-come-true opportunity.0

Then I made my way to Venice… A group of us – final year fine art students – we spent half of a night and most of a day getting ourselves from a tiny, misty Irish airport right to an artistic epicenter of the 53rd Biennale. And then – the true challenge had begun… Being a first time visitor to Venice – one has to invent ways – quick and efficient:  of avoiding crowds, of finding ways in an omnipresent maze of lanes and canals, of keeping cool when faced with a wondrous strangeness and beauty of the place and, finally – to get the most (and the best) of the shows presented – tens of them blown around the city like some erratic parts of a huge machinery; often in places that even locals found difficult to find…

I can be pretty sure not to be the first and the last of the 53rd Biennale visitor, who was immensely tempted to dismiss the entire pandemonium and to spend some quality time in one of the Irish or English pubs; just drinking some wine and staring at Venetian light reflected from the Grand Canal… So tempting…

Anyway, I went through it all in a less indulgent way, which means: I stuffed myself, my cameras and my notebook with the visions of ‘Making Worlds’… Facing it all, and reflecting on it afterward looking for a compendium, links and any order – that is a sort of making yet another world – so diverse, rich and demanding the whole experience is. Yet, it does not necessary mean, that the Biennale was/is a miraculous, creative Wonderland…quite to the contrary – but by its intrinsic qualities like the size, inter-nationality and the inherited prestige – it’s born to leave a clear mark on one’s artistic psyche; not matter how critical and contemptuous one becomes when addressing it.

Making Worlds… artistic (and curatorial!) calling, duty, obsession, wonder and a doom. Nothing more self-indulgent, nothing more pretentious. Nothing more marvelous, nothing more risky. In fact, I don’t personally believe that the most of Birnbaum’s show has stood up to its own challenge… And instead of some down-spine shivers and wide-opened eyes browsing a miracle of some new-born, never seen before worlds – one had to chew up, once again, the same familiar concepts and interventions  cooked and served in a way, which anyone even mildly accustomed to the history of the contemporary art has to know by heart by now…

In other words, there was a chance-taking, adventure -seeking, alternative-supporting attitude bitterly missing in all the curatorial effort of this Biennale. Each show of this type is a sort of an authorship (sometimes – dictatorship); but if a good author hides his strings he is pulling to make his personal vision to be appreciated, Birnbaum made it all too predictable and dull as a whole. One has to allow to risk it all, to be completely lost in order to make entire world out of this self-implied or provoked chaos. There is no other way of creating new world than the one which faces chaos and a gulf; otherwise we got ‘re-making’ old worlds or ‘recycling’ the existing, but worn out ones…

I lost my way dozens of times in Venice. Venice is the space to be lost and to be found, and this very process goes in circles and in-finitum… One has to throw away all maps, one has to trust his instincts and follow no path other than the one which cuts across the old ones instead of re-drawing them…

Making worlds is the most human of all human dwellings… And it is possible, yet not easy – to make a new world out of this too-familiar, too-excessive, too-indulgent entropy of art today.  By losing one’s way in it – one will find the way out of it…

About kasia

Born in Poland. Lives in Ireland, Cork. Visual artist. View all posts by kasia

2 responses to “‘Making Worlds’ by losing your way…

  • Stan

    Well put, Katarzyna! “‘Making worlds’ by losing your way” is a good way to describe creative activity. Knowing exactly what one is doing, and where one is going, is overrated — at least at certain stages of the artistic process. There is more potential for discovery when one is less certain of these things.

    The comparison with being lost in an unfamiliar city is quite apt. There is then less room for expectation, which can interfere with perception. Matisse said: “In art, truth and reality begin when one no longer understands what one is doing or what one knows…” But this requires vigilance, humility, and constant revolution against the weight of the past.

    It sounds as though you had a good time in Venice! On a slightly related note, have you seen Nic Roeg’s film Don’t Look Now? It is (among other things) about being lost in Venice, in many senses of the word ‘lost’.

  • skonieczna

    Well. Thanks Stan. I had, indeed, a very good time. Venice – after the described above ‘lost/found’ phenomenon is all about an intense sensory experience. One suddenly opens up to an entire world of sounds (only human and water-originated), subtle shades of light, tastes of ‘familiar’ food like fish – which is missing in our cities of noisy traffic, mindless hastiness, corrupted architecture and tasteless food. Venice was created out of love and genius of people who appreciated life in its most beautiful forms…God – that place was madly loved – to put so much gold and art in such a tiny space…Too bad it’s such a spoiled golden calf right now – I would love to see it invigorated by some modern and bold initiatives – like, I don’t know – establishing an art college for wild youth?… Take care

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