Dare to climb the ominous stairway outside of the Chilean Pavilion—arched like a Venetian bridge—to a pool of dark, still water demanding your gaze. Stare long enough (three minutes, to be exact) and you’ll spot a specter—the ghost of the Giardini—as it emerges from the water for a mere moment; long enough, if only, to decipher a model of the first 28 foreign pavilions of the Venice Biennale before it disappears beneath the surface.Like a Loch Ness Monster sighting, the image will remain with you as you trace the steps back to the entrance of the pavilion—just as Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar intended. Thinking of water and floods, deluge and rebirth, you’ll arrive at a giant lightbox suspended mid-air (a photograph you might have encountered on the way into the pavilion—but now it makes much more sense). Circa 1946, the image shows Argentine-born Italian artist Lucio Fontana upon his post-WWII return to his Milan studio, diminished to ruins. There, upon a blank slate, Fontana’s spirits are optimistic—despite standing among the ghosts of his city and studio.
Lucio Fontana image © Archivi Farabola; Venezia, Venezia, 2013 (details), photographs by Agostino Osio.
Visit the Chilean Pavilion on Artsy for more information and ongoing updates on Jaar’s exhibition.