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  • Writer's pictureMarion Flanagan

My Visit to the Venice Biennale on 19-22 September 2019

In September 2019, I visited the 58th edition of The Biennale, titled May You Live in Interesting Times. The 300-metre long walk through the historic Arsenale building was filled with works by artists from many countries spanning painting, sculpture, installation, photography, digital, textile, and light.

For me, the most memorable works were the steel sculptures of Carol Bove. The wall label explains that she sees her sculptural work as “collage.” She brings together various materials, not normally associated with one another, and creates more meaning with this approach.

Nike III by Carol Bove as seen in the Arsenale.

Her work Nike III, 2019 (pictured above) made from stainless steel and urethane paint, appears to me like a crouching human form, with a blank face peering out from a hood. A second artwork located in the Arsenal titled Ariel, 2017 brings together two materials in a more obvious manner (pictured below). This sculpture is also made from stainless steel and urethane paint, but there is an intruder material in this piece. The rough, worn piece of metal is combined with the smooth, but crumpled, orange section that is clearly from another time and another maker. This combination of found and made elements adds another chapter to the story, and disrupts the singular narrative.

Ariel 2017 by Carol Bove as seen in the Arsenale.

In a studio visit to Bove’s studio in Brooklyn (“Carol Bove on crushing, crashing and twisting heavy metal into better shape – Wallpaper Magazine, May 2018”), writer Caroline Roux describes several large machines that Bove uses to bend and crush the metal into submission. She never creates drawings of the work, but instead prefers the process to be “spontaneous and improvisational”. In each piece, there's "a story of movement and pressure, force and softness.”

I've purchased some found objects on eBay for my next sculptures. These objects with rougher or faded material that will contrast well against the slick black surface of the synthetic rubber sheeting. Industrial materials serve to indicate "human labour" when interacting with natural resources.


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