Aleksandra Mir

An artist reflects on an artist's Biennale

By Laura Gonzales, London, September 2009

Making Worlds
7 June – 22 November 2009
Internazionale d'Arte - La Biennale di Venezia, Venice

... A lot of 'Making Worlds' seems to turn around the concept of place-making, of artists bringing something of their place into Venice, or bringing the strange city into their works –an encounter missing in Nauman and Barceló. This chain of thought, then, brings me to Mark Lewis, representing Canada. With his work, we are back to addressing the cinematic, but not in McQueen’s way. His cinema is more in the rear projections he uses, in the image rather than the context of viewing. Lewis has a number of shows around the city, in the Giardini and the Dorsoduro. Some show us his home country, some others are based elsewhere. In both, and through the trickery of cinema, he makes his relationship to the medium and the place clear, and brings us times and places (Canada, Los Angeles, summer, winter), to the gallery space. The works envelop us like the projection must envelope the actors, and we are there and not there, at the same time. Just like the uncanny: homely, yet strange. And this same relationship to place making can be found in Aleksandra Mir’s work in the Arsenale. Her playful postcards, which viewers hoarded, collected, went mad about, are of Venice. And then they are not. But you only realise this after a while, when you look again behind the cheesy green-white-red coloured font with the dot in the ‘i’ shaped like a heart. You know the image. Where from? The Sydney Opera House is not in Venice, is it? No. And neither is the Uffizi, or the Empire State Building. In her work, the place artist’s fear or revere elsewhere in the exhibition is frightfully near that other Venice, the one in Las Vegas. I am glad someone had the guts, and the humour, not to take the city, or the curatorial proposition (and art), that seriously.