The Boat is Leaking. An exhibition in Venice.
This visually powerful, multi-layered environment bestows expression and meaning on the everyday and on the worlds of yesterday and today, between apparent normality and catastrophe, in a society divided between lust for life and loss of trust, extreme distress and never-ending hope.
The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied.
The Boat… celebrates the strictness of craft and the reflexive amplitude of three German creators. In an innovative exhibitive concept, we witness the mythological deconstruction of a world that one now needs to start considering its reconstruction.
The exhibition suggests a transmedia route in which we are continually surprised by our own curiosity and our will to establish bonds between what we see and the situations we go through. Echoes of the world and the history of music or theatre are reconstructed as dimensions of a full sociopolitical realm, whose fragmentation is somehow put in order by art. Behind the sarcasm of the title, perhaps is there a bright (and quite German) optimism?
The Boat… is essentially a celebration of unity between theatre, visual arts and the exhibitive design itself. They exhibit, as the outcome of a long-term dialogue with the curator Udo Kittelmann, the artists Thomas Demand, Alexander Kluge and Anna Viebrock. Discoverers and clue investigators, witnesses and chroniclers of the time that passes or has passed by, the three artists fill the rooms and halls of Ca’Corner della Regina with a complex proposal, in which the works of art, the movies and theatre and the opera settings are somehow subjected to a crossed pollination. The outcome – a stunning one – is the possibility of a new typology of art exhibition. An ‘everyday’ that totally surround us (and one that, actually, exhibits itself, sometimes with signs of previous use – since many structures come from shows performed in Europe and worldwide).
The intersection of languages and aesthetic virtues, the constellation of references and quotes, which we gather from the exquisite pairing of photos, videos and prop artifacts and furniture, allows each user of this exhibition to visit it at their own rhythm, losing oneself amid the circuit of spaces-times whose entrances and exits have no indication.
There is this urge to define the experience as a scape room dreamt between two recitatives in Bayreuth… or one crossbred of The Game (of Fincher) with the installations of Palais de Tokyo… In a nutshell, it is an immersion in a mundane-imaginary of an unheimlich realism, the product of a collaborative labour in which there is this feeling that we are watching something absolutely experimental which prevents a unloose pleasure of the text, to quote Barthes. It’s theatre without actors, it’s cinema without tricks and chairs and it’s photography without autonomy – each photo works as if it was ornamenting the house (the concept). In just a word, the exhibition rigorously questions the perennially problematic issues between the viewer and the work. The scheme consists of changing with perfect musicality the filmed image and photography, the lighted and the dim route, the open spaces and those enclosed, etc.
Two words on each one of these dear artists: Anna Viebrock is the set designer for theater and opera, recognized for her work for the most important companies in Germany and in the world; Alexander Kluge is a veteran movie and video director, also a writer and a screenwriter, with a noteworthy career in television; Thomas Demand is a visual artist and a Sculpture teacher, acknowledged for his work in photography. Altogether, and leaving the egos out of the equation, whilst accepting the contiguity-continuity logic coveted by the curator, they draw an open-door route whose spatial devices challenges us to go to the stage, to move through a fake door, to look for an exit or to take a bit longer while contemplating…
The most differentiating component of this rare show is Viebrock’s prop proficiency, whose inspiration derives from the observation of banal buildings and interiors, in addition to visual documents which she gathers in her trips, to be later sublimed through proficient processes of collage.
Of course, what is generated by this experiment is a myriad of encounters, including the ones with ourselves, since we see ourselves mirrored in the perplexity of the fellow-visitors, an ephemeral community continuously reconfigured: the fellows of this trip may appear from anywhere, from where we least expect to.
This way, the theatrical scene transmutes itself into a game, a video that pierces reality, the opera settings work as sculptural-architectonical devices. This is how hit-and-run is played with notions from the present and from time itself. The viewer ends up engaging in the expositive logic in a performative way.
All in all, the world can still be retold and can still be shared, at least between those elected and the nomads. Seen through the least expected transmedia mishmashes, the emotional and theoretical conscience of the world is still a form of brightness.
Special thanks: Axel & May Vervoordt Foundation and Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia