Venice and La Biennale (and some eco-friendly tips)

Italy is Always a Good Idea

Commuting in Venice is fun

So much has been said about Venice, can I tell you something new? I am sure that many tourist guides and internet pages cover the history of the city and must see places, that is why I won’t write many things about it. But I can confirm, that even though I have been to Venice several times (though some years have passed since my last visit), it is still nice to get lost in the streets and canals of Venice. It is one of those cities you can visit without a map because the arrows will lead your way…and if you get lost, you might find another interesting canal or plaza.

But I wanted to share with you, what many guides don’t: your next trip to Venice can be plastic-free. As always when travelling, I carried with me a reusable water bottle. When visiting a city where tap water is not drinkable, it is not as effective as I would like…. but here comes a piece of good news: water in Venice is drinkable! And not only that, there are several spots in the city, where you can refill your bottles for free. Here you can find a list of fountains and even locate the nearest fountain on the map.

Fountains with drinking water are all around the city. Bring your reusable water bottle.

And for all of you travelling and searching drinking tap water nearby, this can be a useful source. I will give it a try soon as well.

Biennale Arte 2019

The real reason, why I came to Venice was Biennale. (If you haven’t visited it, you still have time until November 24th.) Venice is packed with tourist all year long and when La Biennale takes place, even more people come and visit islands. That is why, I suggest you not to visit biennale in the main season. Mid-September was quite a good choice. Even tought we visited on a Sunday, there was almost no queue for tickets and pavillions weren’t too crowded.

One day may or may not be enough for Giardini and Arsenale, which are two main spots. This entirely depends on your rythm and interest. I would be happy if you could buy ticket and visit Giardini and Arsenale in 2 separate days.

Giardini, La Biennale 2019

Visiting Biennale

… as Art Historian

I would like to clarify for once and for always: we, Art Historians, do not have a superpower which helps us understand art in some special way. Especially when we see an exposition or a piece for the first time. Our eyes, brain, etc. work the same as everyone else’s. But what we can do is that we can contextualise – if we have seen something similar before, or if artists are referring to another artwork, is it quite possible, that we would notice that faster as others. But this is not the point.

In my opinion (and especially when it comes to contemporary art), the most important is what or how we feel when we see an artwork. Sometimes it can be just beautiful. Maybe the colour palette artist has chosen makes us percieve it as such, maybe the golden ratio makes it such. Other times we just won’t like it. And this is perfectly fine.

Sometimes an artwork will make us think. Like for example, how was it made? How has the artist created such an illusion? Or thinking about the world we live in. The title of Venice Biennale is May You Live in Interesting Times. And, at least some artists or artworks reflected our society quite good. I have noticed before in some exhibitions in Istanbul, that exhibiting plants or including plants to exposition is getting popular. It made me wonder – why? Luckily, we haven’t reached the point, where plants cannot be seen out of museums, so why expose them? To remind us of their uniqueness and importance?

Besides the artworks which invoked beauty, there were 2 more categories or topics which made me think: climate change and immigration/refugee topics. It made me think – what makes stop and look at these problems in the scope of an art event and not in a real-life? Because we do live and are present at the moment when refugees and climate change are real things and exist out of the museum halls.

That is why one of the most interesting pavilions for me was Danish – Larissa Sansour’s Heirloom. Her video and works explore “how notions such as memory, trauma, identity, and belonging play a role in contested geographies.” Sansour’s video “focuses on dispossession, including being deprived of past, present and future. Conversely, science fiction also opens up a realm of possibility, alternative worldmaking and radical Otherness.” (quotes from Biennale booklet, text by Nat Muller) In the video, two women speak about the value of memory. How memory forms the past and also our future. It made me think, how our personal perception of history (and even more the collective one), can influence our present and future. And even we all know, that history is a teacher, it seems that many students fail the exam.

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