Aleksandra Mir

Venice, what art thou?

By Megan Williams, Toronto, June 2009

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

... An example of extremely successful concept art this year is Venezia by Polish Aleksandra Mir. Mir's work consists of open boxes of about three dozen different postcards with Venice (or Venezia) written across the cards. The photos on the front all feature scenes with water, but have nothing to do with Venice. There’s everything from flamingos taking flight and beach scenes with surfboarders to industrial wastelands and oil rigs.

What's so great about this work is that at first, it's not clear that the cards are mislabelled; only by sifting through one after another do you slowly get pulled into the joke. The postcards highlight the often absurd disconnect between our travel experience and the vision of our travel experience we want to project — the one we send home via postcards. It also suggests that many places in the world today are interchangeable, having lost any distinct character. While the concept is essentially a joke, it's superbly executed and one that, unlike so much modern art, has an inclusive, friendly feel.

It not only changes the way you see an everyday object, but also allows many ways to re-interpret it. People could take as many postcards as they wanted, so the work has a shelf life beyond the biennale, what with people mailing the cards to friends. The postcards went like hotcakes. ...