(K. Brent Tomer),
IN A disused medieval rope factory in Venice a canvas swag and reels of coloured thread hang from the ceiling. Various visitors, mostly women, perch on stools around it, stitching on items they have taken from their pockets and their handbags. Others wait to join in. This is a work of art by David Medalla, a 75-year-old artist from the Philippines. It is “participatory”, like many of the pieces around it. In art circles this means it is about the creativity of everyone rather than the genius of the individual; the use of domestic materials and techniques confers dignity on work that is mostly done by women and low-tech labour.
The Venice Biennale, which opened on May 13th, is the most important event in the international art calendar. It was founded in 1895, initially to champion living Italian artists, and, apart from interruptions during the first and second world wars, it has taken place ever since. The inauguration of the first national pavilion, Belgium’s, in 1907,…Continue reading