Tuesday, April 11, 2017

From Ruin to Wreck

The title of this post is Smithsonian, a la Smithson, who talked about "ruins in reverse," though of course he meant monuments (under construction). A wreck is immediate, a ruin takes time. Participating Documenta 14 artist/architect Andreas Angelidakis talks about Athens as "a ruin and an unfinished city."

One of the highlights of the 1997 Venice Biennale was Rodney Graham's Vexation Island (1997), a short 35mm film loop of an 18th century shipwrecked sailor forever awaking on a desert island, only to be knocked out by a fallen coconut. Key to this work is Graham's decision to leave the Canadian Pavilion's seasonal hoarding in tact, giving the structure a shipwrecked quality.

Twenty years on, Venice will debut two new works based on wrecks -- a Damien Hirst installation comprised of the contents of a wealthy ex-slave's sunken ship and Geoffrey Farmer's installation inspired by his paternal grandfather's train-struck truck.

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