The Venice stand displays the city’s high quality craftwork which, far from being the contribution from a lesser art, proudly claims to retrace our origins, the source of an artistic magic that through beauty has disclosed the meaning of life to the whole world.
Over the centuries Venice has charmed the world with the image it has been given by an endless, aesthetically valuable artistic production. Far from being an artisan market, the Venice Stand in the 2017 Biennial houses an art exhibition in which the works of present-day artists are displayed with those of other artists, the master craftsmen of modern firms that have devoted their skills to the creation of luxury items and whose activity is rooted in tradition. In fact, Luxury is the theme of an exhibition which couldn’t but be labeled Luxus. As visitors walk about the exhibition premises they enjoy images of past and present art: from glassware to mosaics, from fabrics to jewellery, footwear, chinaware, silverware and Istrian stone items.
On the lawn facing the entrance to the Stand an imposing stone sculpture by Orsoni, lined with gold-foiled mosaic makes visitors aware of the new, peculiar features of this exhibition.
In the Stand entrance hall, the lion of St Mark – a loan from The Correr Museum – welcomes visitors with another winged lion from Antonia Sautter’s atelier.
Each room in the stand is defined by a caption in Venetian dialect. The first, labeled “In Botega”(In the Workshop), contains the tools and raw materials to be transformed by the craftsmen’s skill.
From the “Botega”, past an elegant drapery by Rubelli, visitors find their way to the second room: “E man che lavora” (Working Hands). A large screen features a film made by director Cesare Cicardini whose captivating images show how manual work transforms matter into precious works of art. The same room displays an original installation of bottles, “The Gold of Venice”, containing the wine from an ancient vineyard in the isle of Mazzorbo, “Venissa”, now brought back to new life.
From this room, beyond a red curtain obtained by courtesy of La Fenice- Venice, visitors are admitted to the hall devoted to “Il gran baeo” (The Grand Ball), where a device enables them to listen to Waltz n. 2 by Dimitry Shostakovich that they can perform following the numbers of the dance steps on the floor.
From the ceiling a superb chandelier by Barovier and Toso casts its light over two great pictures by the artist-photographer Maurizio Galimberti arranged in front of each other. Near the pictures some Eighteenth Century costumes: the silk dress Andrienne and five silk-embroidered satin long sleeved waistcoats obtained for the exhibition by courtesy of Venice Fondazione Musei Civici.
From the ball room past a large red screen, a loan from La Fenice, visitors get ”Nel Cuor de Venexia” “In the Heart of Venice” where a suggestive film by Cesare Cicardini is projected onto a screen to illustrate Venetian sensuality, beauty and eroticism to the accompaniment of “Life”, a fitting musical composition by ludovico Einaudi. Next to the screen is on show René Caovilla’s footwear, with interesting creations whose vamps reproduce the images from St Mark’s mosaics and from other important Venetian works of art.
Visitors are now at “La Porta d’Oriente” (The Door to the Orient), an imposing structure built by Cristalexe which conjures up cultural suggestions from Venice’s long relationships with a far-off world. The room is rich with images, sounds and objects that bring back to life the emotions from an extraordinary relationship between civilizations: tapestries from the firm Luigi Bevilacqua and a still working, old loom, fabrics, plaits of colored silk on the back of a big silver-colored elephant, a gift from La Fenice. An Istrian stone capital carved by Jacopo Giusto, perfumes with an original Merchant of Venice map accounting for their widespread use in Europe and in the Far East. Here are the protagonists of a fanciful phantasmagoria at once artisanal, aesthetic and sensorial that conjures up the “far-off world”, with an imposing lamp that stands out and evokes Aladin’s one, next to two big vases containing stylized glass flowers by Abate Zanetti with the overhanging colourful flying carpet by Rubelli.
In the last room, “Lux, Luxus, Luxuria”, on a precious cloth covering a table a display of ancient pieces of Geminiano Cozzi chinaware, Zafferano glasses and Zaramella silverware.
“Luxus”, the title of the exhibition, is in fact a route leading to aesthetic education and to a present awareness of the meaning of past things, to find in beauty the deepest sense of our life.