The Encyclopedic Palace, was the main theme of Arsenale's Exhibition this year at The Venice Biennale, gathering artists from all disciplines, who obsessively collect or create images, but most importantly their own universes.
It ranges from 19th century photography, to art brut, going through comic, african voodoo flags, minimal art and even one space curated by Cindy Sherman.
The term encyclopedic Palace was coined by the Italian- American artist Maurino Autri on 1955, his idea was building a huge museum which contained all knowledge known by men, which obviously never happened.
The dialogues created by the heterogeneous group of artist , result in a time traveling, image saturated, compulsive journey, in my opinion a magnificent curatrial job by Massimiliano Gioni.
This are some of my highlights!
Ryan Trecartin (1981, Webster, USA)
Trecartin's videos are very confusing and even disturbing at the first moments you encounter them. They are projected in different scenarios that resemble, camps, a pool house, or a friends living room, inviting the spectator to get involved as a voyeour of a satire of nowadays television and internet based culture,of reality tv, game shows, digital interaction, sport games.
The characters are all ambiguous, they have heavy glittery make up, and somehow grotesque but still resemble the popular culture, that has spread from The States all around the world.
Trecartin works with collaborators Lizzy Fitch, rET La Rhue and others
Pierre Molinier (1900-1976, Agen, France)
Usually being both the subject and the creator of his photographies, Molinier's controversial images materialize his erotic and fetichist nature.
He used sculpture and a sort of prosthetic extremities creating this hermaphrodite sexually charged characters, his subjects are himself, sometimes models or a doll. He used a very simple camera and developed his pictures in his kitchen, being extremely resourceful, using collages to create the mirror effects in his images, which resemble indian deities.
Carol Rama (1918, Torino, Italia)
Rama is one of the leading artists in making a feminist statement using sexually explicit images from a woman's point of view, which was a main topic of discussion on the 60s and 70s.
She comes from a troubled family. Her dad went bankrupt and committed suicide when she was very young and her mother was mentally ill. Anyway she managed to get into art and involved with artist friends, which led to a quite fruitful career, but in 1945 (during the italian regime) some of her sexually charged drawings where confiscated before being exhibited.
Her work is all body related, she often includes furs, which her mother used to sell, bones, teeth, , masturbation, with a disturbing shift when sometimes placed in a hospital environment.
She shows such honesty, delicacy and roughness in her work comparable to Louise Bourgeois's sketches.
Karl Schenker (1880s- 1951/2,Germany)
Comming from a post war time, where most of the women had joined the working forces, and many of the men had died, Germany, specially berlin goes through a revival, and becomes a culturally rich, modern city, with deep aesthetic consciousness in fashion and art.
Karl Schenker, was a well known fashion photographer. In some occasions, instead of human models he developed his own mannequins, using fake hair, and eyelashes, and prosthetic limbs that where quite commun in that period due to the war consequences.
The resulting photographs are a mixture of elegance and creepiness, his women though beautiful still have that dead look of an inanimate creature. It is impossible not to think of Fritz Lang's automatas in Metropolis.