As the host nation, Italy's run at the Biennale in recent years has been hit and miss, if you ask me.
For the most part, the approach at the Italian pavilion has been ambitious at recent Biennales.
Although the Italian pavilion usually favours complex installations, there seems to be such a sense of one-up-manship, that at times, it feels like the artist and curatorial team are biting off more than they can chew.
This year, everyone had to line up under the sweltering sun to get into the Italian pavilion.
That experience took me back to my youth in Melbourne, where I used to have to line up to get into bars and clubs. Every extra minute I waited, the anxiety and the dread grew, knowing I would soon be "assessed" by an agressive doorman or doorbitch who would decide if I was worthy enough to spend my money on drinks [back then, the drink of choice was vodka, but the music could range from dance/pop all the way through to heavy metal].
In any case, the strategy of single admission to the Italian pavilion is simply to limit the number of visitors in the space at any one time. It's an effective approach that makes sense with what's happening inside the walls of the show (and feels decidedly COVID friendly).
I walked in hot, sweaty and grumpy and walked out feeling like Jodie Foster, wondering if the lambs have stopped screaming.
For the History of Night and Destiny of Comets, artist Gian Maria Tosatti takes on a really ambitious project.
On entering the space, you're basically entering an exclave where the remnants of Arsenale's industrial past are on show. But there's some added extras; some old school computer banks, a conveyer belt and a hush of silence.
In single file, you begin a trek back into an unstaffed factory from Italy's long gone industrial complex.
And here again, I'm taken back to my youth, to the days when my mum and dad worked in the ragtrade in Australia and to those hours I used to spend after school helping my dad lay, mark and cut fabric.
Tosatti pops up at various locations at this year's Biennale, but here, he has has created a meticulous installation in three acts; moving up and down stairs and into different spaces, you're essentially walking in and out of the old factories that powered Italy's postwar transformation. Manager's offices, places to clock in and clock out, communal areas where one was expected to spend eight hours a day seated at a machine, threading and sewing all day long.
Whether those spaces have transferred abroad or been eclipsed by machines, we can't say. We just know that those spaces are of little importance to today's Italy, despite all the hype about Made In Italy that its government would have you believe.
Once you're done lingering, Tosatti ushers you away from the achievements that came out of anonymous spaces towards an unknown, unpredictable night. A night at a point in the future where mother nature will have the last word, despite all the blood, sweat and toil of humans, Tosatti's is one of the most haunting shows at this year's Biennale.
You'll need a ticket to Arsenale to see this exhibition.
You could linger for hours here, but I found that spending between 20-25 minutes here was sufficient.
Artist; Gian Maria Tosatti
Curator; Eugenio Viola
Official pavillion website here.
Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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