Anna Rogers

Venice Diary: Day 2 – A lot of firsts

You can catch up here with new Fine Art graduate Anna Rogers’ time as one of the Arts Council of Wales Cymru yn Fenis Wales team:-

Today was a lot of firsts –
First day off
First coffee with a Venetian
First time I’ve ever cried in a gallery.

The piece that set me off was Marina Abramović’s Standing Structures for Human Use, (2017) on display at the Palazzo Fortuny as part of INTUITION that runs until November 28 2017.

Abramović wants the viewer to interact with the structures. Six monoclinic quartz shards protrude from each vertical wooden baton of differing heights so that the viewer can find a set of three that exactly connects with their head, heart and stomach. Mind, body and soul.

Standing there with the crystals pressing into my body was strange, but the space lends itself to the sensitivity of the work. Light streams in through the windows and is refracted by the crystals. In the background, the viewer hears a recording of Abramović talking in her usual iambic way about the work in relation to wider human experience.

“Everybody have trauma, everybody have loneliness, everybody have fear of death.”

I cannot speak as to Abramović’s intention; in my own practice I have little interest in my own motivation, preferring to focus on the reflections of my viewers. I felt touched by the idea that the artist had identified a need for healing in the modern world so profound that she made public structures for that purpose. There’s that famous lie about Van Gogh eating yellow paint to raise his spirits which, though it’s not true, speaks to the same quiet desperation of this work. Desperate people will try anything. I spent a long time sat in that room thinking about what people might need from the Standing Structures and feeling sad that they mightn’t get it and happy that it might push them to realise they should.

There was a transcendental line being drawn between feeling involved and separate, public and private, open and reserved. It also felt precarious, like I would only feel that way in that particular moment, on that particular day at this particular stage in my life.

Back to Van Gogh. The medical notes of his physician indicate that Vincent wanted to kill himself by eating paint and drinking turpentine. This was the reason he often was not allowed into his studio when he was suffering from mental ill health.

Read more about CSAD at the Venice Biennale.

Visit the British Council Venice Biennale site.