, pub-3110945912229006, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Venice 2019: Altering Perspective

Venice 2019: Altering Perspective

May 21, 2019

Manifesto of Presentism, art action. Piazza di San Marco. 9 May, 2019.


One of the events of the 2019 Venice Biennale went largely unnoticed. Apart from a few hundred city visitors that happened to find themselves at the Piazza di San Marco on the late morning of May 9, and one random tourist who actively objected to the action, few others were aware of the happening. 


In the midst of pre-biannual festivities and two days before the official opening of major exhibitions, on the 74th Anniversary of V-Day (as it's celebrated in Russia), and about 110 years after a similar event happened at the same place, a few handfuls of leaflets containing a message of love and awareness were launched from the top of San Marco Campanile. Marinetti style.

Image and video are courtesy of India Roper-Evans.


Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, a well known poet and an ideologue of the Futurist Movement, hurled his Futurist Manifesto from San Marco Campanile a year after it was published in the Figaro in 1909. It embodied the attitude and pathos of the future 20th century that had recently begun.


Eleven points of the Manifesto sung “the love of danger,” “the punch and the slap,” “the beauty of speed,” “the man at the wheel, who hurls the lance of his spirit across the Earth,” while “...glorify[ing] war — the world’s only hygiene — militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.” It promised to “...destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind, [...] fight moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice,” and pledged ‘defiance to the stars’. Sounds familiar?


The militant hubris of the thirty-three year old man was indeed a manifestation of that time in human history that knew little of the horrors of revolutions, world wars, and mass murders on an industrial scale. The 20th century of two world wars, the atomic bomb, and consumerist societies followed. That pathos and attitude picked up from the poetics of the early industrial era landed us where we are now: in a dehumanized environment of insatiable corporate greed, senseless economic expansion, soil and air pollution, refugees crisis, the rise of right-wing politics, and emerging realization of our responsibility for what has happened to us.


That realization as much as any inspired a counter manifesto, or better yet a proclamation of art as a manifestation of love, and the future as a posit of the present, being as it is dependent on our action at any present given moment. Thus my tongue-in-cheek Manifesto of Presentism flew down off of San Marco Campanile in hopes of spreading the message of art being ‘the food of love’ and love being ‘the food of the present.’ The action organically became a part of the Void, a clandestine operation of the group of artists participating in the EMPIRE II series of art shows curated by Vanya Balogh, and yet another perspective-changing exhibition — Miniscule Venice.*


The ability to change attitudes and perspectives is one of the features of art, and there was a show that did just that. Widely covered in the media (La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre, The Quietus, Forbes,, it is unique in the whole of the Biennale, as it is a behaviour-altering piece on its own. Wandering down via Garibaldi between the main exhibitions of Giardini and Arsenale, a Miniscule Venice spectator can’t just brush through, glance around and leave, but is compelled to slow down and pay close attention. The difference is scale. The point of view.


Over 100 artists from all over the world brought together by an artist and a virtuoso curator, Vanya Balogh, created miniature sculptures the size of the matchbox. Some utilized the features of the matchbox form itself, some just adhered to the size limitation. Whether discovering the ‘scaling down’, or just unearthing miniature works created before, the joy of making the pieces was palpable in the small gallery at the Fondamenta Sant’Anna. Quite a few were mentioned in the various media articles, so here I will mention a few more: Graham Tunnadine’s inventive ‘Locked out Syndrome’ a miniscule peep show, Vanja Karas’ elegant and meaningful ‘Time Machine’, Barbara Stanzi’s ‘My Miniature Life in Pieces’, Bob Lowson’s ‘Ear for inner voice’, Jil Gibson’s ‘Head - with built in obsolescence’ Keith Ball’s ‘Deck’ of diminutive cards with 'Sorry, try again' printed on each of them, and my own ‘Mon petit miniscule’ attesting to the loss of value of the human and personal in the course of the global conquest declared and sung by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in 1909. All the pieces are unique in the use of material, some a combination of the ready-mades, some newly created from scratch.

Left to right: Graham Tunnadine, Vanja Karas, Bob Lowson, Barbara Stanzi, Jill Gibson, Veronica Shimanovskaya, Keith Ball, Keyko Bromley, Paul Hazelton.


Miniscule Venice has a history of previous exhibitions of this nature curated by Balogh. Simultaneously with Venice Biennale, another Miniscule - Part 2 show was happening in Kendal, UK following the original Miniscule of 2010


Graham Tunnadine's Void action Black Hole is also a perspective altering piece. An imaginary telescope, his piece calls habitual perceptions into question: "It has always been important to question what we see. It is essential to distinguish between what is and isn’t real. But since Hiroshima there is a dwindling trust in progress, The Enlightenment and Modernism which no longer have the same authority. New thinking is not a bad thing by any means, but the crisis of doubt has created an inertia and an inability to tackle the important and urgent issues such as climate change and extinction. By staring into the void, “Black Hole” attempts to act as a catalyst for discussion around ideas of truth, doubt, reality, perception and action, in these times of uncertainty.**"

Black Hole, 2019 © Graham Tunnadine


As for the other numerous exhibitions of the Biennale, the most noticeable fact is that video prevailed. In the multi-screen installations of techno and urban humans of the Taiwan pavilion, in the spectacular gender-defying dance film of the Swiss pavilion, Laura Provost’s sensual video syncopation and installation in the French pavilion, not to mention the Turner prize–winning iPhone-produced work by Scottish artist Charlotte Prodger, although UK was represented by Cathy Wilkes with her 'production' object work. Iran’s Biennale debut seemed the most masterful immersive installation where not a single object or screen was out of place and digital and traditional media echoed each other elegantly and most convincingly. USA Martin Puryear’s work stood almost humbly among others that exuded despair and animosity toward the status quo. Stating customs-related issues, a few shows weren’t able to open on time including the Venezuela pavilion that was tellingly empty with a pile of rubbish and overturned canoe in the pavilion yard corner.


The nagging feeling that a message of love and awareness of the present moment felt entirely appropriate. Certainly, Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide... comes to mind: “We apologize for any inconvenience”, but perhaps a little bit of hope may still exist.


* Artists participating @ Miniscule Venice:
Rebecca Scott GB
Danny Pockets GB
Cedric Christie Jamaica
Vanya Balogh Croatia
Piyali Ghosh India
Emma Croft GB
Gavin Turk GB
Plinio Villagran Galindo Guatemala
Teo Robinson Canada
Tomaz Kramberger Slovenia
Emanuel Fanslau Germany
Jeanne Susplugas France
Marisa Polin Mexico
Mario Sanchez Varas Spain
Tiziana Mandolesi Italy
Katya Kan Kazhakstan
Noriko Uno Japan
Birgit Jensen Germany
Paul Hazelton GB
Sarah Pager GB
Ann Grim France
Christopher Clack GB
Natalia Ryabova Russia
Graham Tunnadine GB
Christina Lorimer GB
Noel Grassy Macken GB
Andrew Stys Poland
La Lianna Italy
Nerys Mathias GB
Venetia Nevill GB
Keith Ball GB
Gzillion Artist GB
Ray Gange GB
Ibby Doherty GB
Mahaut Harley Leca France
Olga Jurgenson Estonia
Liz Sheridan GB
Jessica Bailey GB
Daleya Marohn Ethiopia
India Roper-Evans Hungary
Guy Haddon Grant GB
Sarah Sparkes GB
Ian Thompson GB
Roger Clarke GB
Meriilis Riinne Estonia
Meg Shirayama Japan
Mandee Gage GB
Georgina McNamara GB
Deborah Bee Artist GB
Anita Bryan GB
Paul Tucker GB
Jon Baker GB
Dannielle Hodson GB
Tommy Seaward GB
Vanja Karas Serbia
Toni Gallagher GB
Maria Jose Arceo GB
KeelerTornero GB
Jochen Saureacker Germany
Lucinda Burgess GB
Carole Pearson GB
Russell Terry GB
Cathy Gale GB
Lauren Baker GB
Beverley Isaacs GB
Athena Constantinou Cyprus
Alex Ruffini Italy
Michal Cole GB
Petra Lea GB
Spizz Energi GB
Dimtrios Oikonomou Greece
Caroline Gregory GB
Paul Tecklenberg GB
Pascal Rousson France
Veronica Shimanovskaya Russia/USA
Alex Ruffini Italy
Steven Pettengell GB
Melissa Alley GB
Joanna McCormick GB
Tisna Westerhof Holland
Kety Balogh Croatia
Maria Teresa Gavazzi Italy
Alice Herrick GB
Thomas J Ridley GB
Sarah Kogan GB
Susan Haire GB
Almuth Tebbenhoff Germany
Alex Hinks GB
Jason Gibilaro Brasil
Gabriel Mulvey Switzerland
Vera Jefferson GB
Jane Grisewood USA
Toby Bricheno GB
Edward Croft-Balogh GB
Glenn Fitzy Fitzpatrick GB
Ian Wolter GB
Sarah Goldbart GB
Kate Gilman Brundrett GB
John Stephens GB
Anna Fairchild GB
John Plowman GB
Fiona McAuliffe Artist Forte GB
Penelope Payne GB
Keiko Owada Japan
Susana Sanroman Spain
Farah Ishaq GB
Anne Leigniel GB
Gina Southgate GB
Angela Wright GB
Katya Kan Kazakhstan
Susan Schulman USA
Neda Dana-Haeri Iran
Toby Morgan GB
Hermione Allsopp GB
Jim Roseveare GB
Maslen & Mehra GB
Riitta Hakkarainen Finland
Fiona Haines GB
Steve Smith GB
Mary T Spence GB
Nicole Barclay GB
Natalija Jezova Russia
Carol Wyss Germany
Nicola Hicks GB
Geraldine Swayne Ireland
Elli Lestas Cyprus

Doug Haywood GB


** From artist's statement.



Please reload

Recent Posts

Please reload


Please reload


Please reload

©2018 by ephemereye