Universes in Universe - Worlds of Art

51st Venice Biennale
12 June - 6 November 2005

Venice / 2005 / Exhibitions

The Experience of Art

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Italian pavilion / © Photo: Venice Biennial

Italian pavilion,
Giardini di Castello

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María de Corral / © Photo: Haupt & Binder

María de Corral

International exhibition

Curator: María de Corral

About the title of her exhibition which reaches back into the 1970s, María de Corral wrote that she chose The Experience of Art because she "wanted to share with the visitors some of the issues that artists address in their works every day". Her statement is followed by a listing of the topics she had in mind. Her exhibition should not be understood as being thematically structured, or as a "concept exhibition," but rather as "the labyrinthine itinerary of art" shown as a process that "speaks of intensity," "of the existing relationship between artists of different generations, who work on specific ideas about art and the life of our times," and more... In the 34 spaces of the Italian pavilion, the curator wanted to assemble associative constellations of work groups meant to increase the intensity of the individual artworks.

Regarding her criteria for selecting the participants, María de Corral wrote, "I do not seek an exhibition that, in terms of the numbers of participants from all countries and continents, offers a false model of universality. I have decided to work with certain authors, who have accompanied me along my lengthy artistic itinerary" ([sic] Shouldn’t it be the other way – that a curator accompanies the artists on their route?).

We found hard to overlook what Corral added at the press conference in Berlin (see our introduction). In her opinion, the major exhibitions of recent years, such as Documenta11, prove that the important artists from the "periphery" produce their work in the cultural centers. Even when they speak of the context they originate from, they do so from a western perspective.

This idea addresses a problem with one's own perspective, which the curator clearly shares with a few influential colleagues. For sure there exist various reasons (lack of time, limited budgets, the violence in certain countries, etc.) – to put it mildly – for not researching on location with the necessary thoroughness, or at least having competent colleagues involved. But to draw from this the conclusion that the most important art of the "periphery" regions (in itself an obsolete discourse nowadays) emerges in one’s own surroundings (that is, in western metropolises) is rather absurd. A lack of curiosity in many of today’s curators also shows itself in the spreading bad habit of "sampling curating," a tendency to prefer selecting the kind of artists encountered at major exhibitions over the last years, and whose value has long been negotiated by the art system.

Gerhard Haupt and Pat Binder

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Venice / 2005 / Exhibitions