A good friend back home sent me this photo yesterday to say well done.
I’m back at the Empire II exhibition today to catch everyone’s work, and mine once more before returning home tomorrow. Hopefully I catch the talks to meet the Empire II artists again before the exhibition ends in November.
Map of UK in Venice including Empire II
Castello 1610/A, Riva dei Sette Martiri, Venezia 30122
Vaporetto: Giardini SX, Giardini DX
Chiara Enzo, Barbara Stanzl, Jude Montague, Mat and Fitzy - an amazing after by the sea with new friends! I’ve been thinking all day about working with these guys again in Leicester!
ARRIVED IN VENICE STRAIGHT TO LA BIENNALE DI VENEZIA- GARDIENI, ARSENAL,EMPIRE II PREVEIW EVENT! (PART 2 Empire II)
Last night I was at a show in Venice that included my work. The space and the location is incredible - 5 minutes from both Gardieni and Arsenal, right between the two. It was so busy and so beautiful. There was even 5 minutes of ridiculous wind as all the artists exhibiting came together to help move everything in. This way magically made us introduce ourselves, and this was how many exhibiting artists meet.
I met the curator Vanya Balogh in person and he was charming, professional and warm, just as I thought he would be! After the show we carried on for drinks around Venice and shared stories.
I saw about 20 of the films displayed - breathtaking, funny, raw, gritty, atmospheric. It was so good to see all the variations each 3 minutes could bring. Each video was very different to the next. I’m so glad i’m here for a while so I can go back and see them all!
arrived in venice straight to La Biennale di Venezia- GARDIENI, ARSENAL,empire II PREVEIW EVENT! (part 1 GARDIENI)
This is a document of my personal highlights at the Venice Biennale and a sketchbook for my current project. Whether it's political, use of material, use of space or participatory arts, I have made some notes to come back to.
I start with, however, photos I took on the flight over on 10th May. A clear day for most of Europe it seemed - better than any show at the cinema! I'm completely surprised the airline hasn't cashed in on paying extra for a clear day.
(click above images)
'Hajra Waheed’s work seeks to address personal, national and cultural identity formation in relation to political history, popular imagination and the broad impact of colonial power within a global context.'
Andy Hope 1930 I thought was extremely clever, accessible, immersive, political, communicative and exciting. I really liked the way he connected the video works with the space. The work was dry, lonesome and inventive. He created a character, that I imagine, created childlike artworks of aliens and logos of energy drinks that were displayed in the space. Everything in the room was interlinked, even the visitors became part of it.
(click above images)
Rachel Rose created this enchanted, magic, circular, complicated and beautiful artwork. It reminded me of a book I had as a child that I dreamt about. The storyline seemed to relate in some way to this memory - a child's confused sense of reality or actuality. I can’t believe the artist is so young and talented. It’s so accomplished. Truly incredible!
Mark Bradford 'fabricating his signature mixed-media collages with ephemera such as segments of billboards, flyers, and graffiti stencils, American artist Mark Bradford’s works marry his interests in modernist abstraction with the urban community from which he culls his materials.’
This walk (click above images) is so confident. It's a memorable walk and you know it. It's a walk of validation, a new relationship, a new job, money in the bank, an invite to dinner or just waking up in the morning and realising there is nothing to worry about.
I love the way they have displayed this film in the Nordic Pavilion.
I have spent a lot of time in the Republic of Korea pavilion (below). A really thought provoking space. The room with the clocks!!!!!!! The room was soundproofed and was really dead, which was the first thing you noticed. Each clock had someone's name on it and country and each clock ran at different speeds. For instance, someone called Clare was on double slow time while Patrick was super fast - funny!
The Thinker by Cody Choi in Republic of Korea Pavilion
Jana Želibská (below)
Aby Mackie's artwork
Image credit Leila Houston
I met Aby Mackie in her apartment in Poblenou with her two young children, full of music and fascinating collected treasures. The windows in the apartment opened out onto the little streets below on both sides. Straight away we talked at great length about common interests, many aspects related to the ongoing quest to find paid work that allows time to continue our artistic practice.
We also discussed how many visual artists we know as close friends, which seemed very few. Personally most of my closest friends are labourers, bartenders, cover support teachers or unemployed due to health problems. A few are musicians also. Aby seemed to know more dancers which I thought was very interesting.
Aby Mackie is an artist based in Barcelona whose wall-based sculptures are unified through a materials-led methodology, combining storytelling and social commentary. Recurring themes can be identified as materialism, consumerism, value and memory. Each series investigates the interconnectedness of these themes through the language of materials.
Often in Barcelona, the contents of entire homes are either thrown onto the streets or auctioned off at Encants Vells market upon the death of a final occupant. The creation of Mackie’s work is driven by the selection and repurposing of objects and textiles from these two practices in order to explore ongoing cultural concerns. This roots Mackie’s artistic process in the everyday existence of the unrecognised, uncelebrated, unknown lives of Barcelona’s residents. - Aby Mackie
Image credit Leila Houston
Aby Mackie - works in progress
Arrogance in the arts was discussed also, and how it exists in both countries, and why that might be.
We both survive financially and agreed we do not share money issues to the people we know, as in the past as artists we have both received misunderstandings and judgments. 5 years ago, I was told to get a factory job when I was trying to develop a self employed career as a tutor with some teaching in place. Aby explained that teaching in Barcelona does pay more so you can work a little less and have free time to make artwork, exhibit and publish your work. That does make me wonder how healthy it is that I am a person who is constantly and quietly anxious about money? Adding to this conversation, I talked to Aby about being awarded Art Council England funding and how incredible my confidence was the next day. The funding gave me validation and more control over my life (financially).
The differences between England and Barcelona was discussed. Mackie remarks having lived in both England and Spain and that the standard of living in Spain is much better. Without benefits and child support I can see the struggle higher, however being able to go to the beach for free and go to the free festivities in the streets, which happen regularly, must bring a great level of community and joy to living. Aby explained that the whole family has and uses ‘“either a skateboard, roller blades or a bike”.
Aby Mackie - works in progress
Aby showed me her studio which was really exciting - stupidly I didn’t think to take pictures as we were talking so much! I really enjoyed her work, not just because it had a journey and a long process of consideration and conviction, but because Aby has ideas about displaying one off prints across the streets of Barcelona and Poblenou, inviting everyone to come to her next show.
Details about Aby Mackie’s work
The paper hearts are printed onto old paper dating from the time of the letters (but not printed onto the letters themselves). The letters are love letters during the war, a couple in Barcelona (under Franco's regime) separated as the man has been posted in Madrid
This work is a small part of a body of work all about 'love'. These are another part http://abymackie.crevado.com/wall-based-sculpture which are made from old bedcovers and blankets and coats. Deconstruction, reconstruction 'crosses and kisses, hits and near misses' (is the title of the works)
The works are all still in progress, to be exhibited later this year. Date and venue to be confirmed.
All work can be seen here
And for sale here
Leila Houston (London, 1977) is a visual artist whose work investigates the social, political and historical aspects of a place.