“The Workshop” by Gilad Ratman is Israel's submission for the 2013 Venice Biennale. // (c) 2013 Skye Mayring
While cruising on Uniworld’s new Venice and the River Po itinerary, I stumbled upon one of the best reasons to visit the region — the Venice Biennale contemporary art exhibition. Our ship was conveniently docked at Riva Sette Martiri, just a stone’s throw from the park and exhibition space that hosts the prestigious international art exhibition every two years.
After paying an entrance fee of approximately $32, I was given access to the so-called Olympics of Art. It seemed as if each participating country was trying to outdo the next with the avant-garde. Poland gave earplugs to observers while bells, powered by gigantic speakers, rattled its exhibition space. Meanwhile, Russia played with gender roles, segregating its audience by sex and giving only women access to a certain room. In that room, women were given umbrellas and asked to pick up gold coins that appeared to fall from the sky.
While there were so many bizarre and conversation-provoking exhibits to admire, my favorite installation had to be Israel’s “The Workshop” by Gilad Ratman. “The Workshop” is a five-channel video installation utilizing electronic music, microphones and 27 clay sculptures that emitted howls, screeches and other eerie sounds. Viewers learn the odd story of how “The Workshop” came to be and watch a team of artists create their likeness in clay as well as record their voices into their sculptures.
The 55th annual Venice Biennale runs through Oct. 13. The central international exhibition takes place at the Giardini and the Arsenale, both located within walking distance of Saint Mark’s Square.