Venice Note #2: Collecting & Typologies

Elena Soboleva
Jul 9, 2013 2:57AM

The need to classify has been a consistent motif for contemporary artists and this year in Venice, several set about to pursue this task in an introspective way as to understand their own nationality and composition. In fact the entire curatorial idea of “Encyclopedic Palace” rests on the concept of absolute categorization and these artists utilize it as a point of departure.

In the USA Pavilion, Sarah Sze creates a precarious balance of sticks, stones and the detritus of everyday life—collected, catalogued and displayed. Aptly titled Triple Point, the thermodynamic state where three phases (gas, liquid, solid) of a substance are in equilibrium, she presents arrays of plastic bottles, transit tickets, Nutrigrain bar wrappers, and bits of string that make the viewer aware of our material accumulation, constant consumption and the stuff of contemporary life.

The Czech and Slovak Pavilion stands as a historic anomaly and proof of art stronger than borders, where the Slovak artist Petra Feriancova dissects the makeup of Venice in Still the Same Place, amassing materials and archives of shells, magazines, negatives, and polaroids that examine locality. Though the viewer can’t ever see the entirety, they observe the vestments of the collection.

Cindy Sherman’s curated show within the Arsenale depicts an obsessive accumulation of over 200 works, which systematically address the question of self-perception through her customary collection of dolls, mannequins, puppets, and photos. In this curatorial project, in itself an artwork, she sets out a modern anthology of embodied persona.

Images: Sarah Sze; Petra Feriancova; Laurie Simmons and Allan McCollum curated by Cindy Sherman

Elena Soboleva