2019 Venice Biennale: Transparency does not make a bigger eye of a needle.



Great stuff Mr Kelly! 


As the 2017 Biennale draws to a close,  it is delightful reading this article, and the resulting debate below the article, and then realising how the recommendations there became fact.   

It seems the small decision making clique were very thin skinned to the criticism and quickly appointed the recommended artist, for all the reasons given.

The October 2017 decision by the Australia Council to move to greater transparency (and not consult Simon Mordant and others), may be due to criticism outlined here by  Kelly et al.,  or to follow the international trend towards more transparency ( https://www.a-n.co.uk/news/venice-biennale-a-selective-process), or simply because the Venice Biennale itself asked them to do it (Matthew Westwood, Doors of Pavilion opened to all, The Weekend Australian newspaper, October 28-29 2017, The Nation 3).

But the problem is not unique to this instance,  Hollywood had the same problem, with one individual creating a beautiful solution.  See https://graham-hay.blogspot.com.au/2017/04/the-black-list.html

In WA we have a tradition of fixing things ourselves, rather than waiting for governments to always solve our problems.

I decided to fix another Biennale problem, of under representation of Western Australian artists (11% pop.) and only 1 WA artist in the Australian Pavilion in 93 years: Rover Thomas).

I took the online contact details for 2000+ WA artists, kiln fired them onto individual porcelain flutes I had made.  Then stacked them into a 2.5m high sculpture, before gaving them away to the Venice audience to use to drink Porcecco on the second floor of Palazzo Bembo, inviting them to take away the flutes, to research and contact the WA artists.*   

May I suggest that WA don’t waiting for the Australian Council to struggle to a rushed selection for an Australia 2019 Venice Biennale artist, that will please no-one and is likely to be the smallest target for the next round of criticism.  

Rather, WA follows Scotland’s example and just just rent a space in Venice as our own “Pavilion”.  We needn’t worry too much about the total cost: to keep a cap on that defiant act, England also chips in some money.  Australia Council can do the same for WA.
  • A personal thank you and plug to Rene Rietmeyer, Sarah Gold, the Global Art Affairs, European Cultural Centre, and the amazing staff of Palazzo Bembo for supporting my plan (see http://www.europeanculturalcentre.eu/index.php ).

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