National Pavilion UAE - On Arsenale, Art, Venice and Walking on Water | By Lorenzo Tel
  • On Arsenale, Art, Venice and Walking on Water | By Lorenzo Tel


    It does not happen every day to stay in close contact with a work of art or an artist. It is the first

    thing that pops into my mind, perhaps because of a cultural education that identifies in the art a

    parenthesis between the ugliness of life or an exception or something special.

    And if I stop to think , I realize I live in Venice and I find myself literally surrounded by art in all its

    forms , and so the art is actually a reality that belongs to the daily way of life and I feel how much it

    is mystifying to marry in full the vision of Romanticism that saw in art and in the artist a divine fire

    that had little to do with ordinary mortals. I believe that if the art does not communicate with the

    humankind is not art in the sense that it remains a mute and dumb thing does not have

    significance, not because it is dumb but because it remains trapped in a brute matter has not

    reached its purpose, i.e. the expressiveness of an expression . The lack of expression makes

    absent everything even if it occupies a physical space . There is but it is as if there were not. There

    is but you do not pay attention , you pass by with indifference.

    However I must admit that not all people live in Venice and therefore not everyone can have a daily

    contact with the art and the artistic beauty. Perhaps for them the speech and reasoning that I have

    written above may not be valid, however I firmly believe that the motion to beauty and art makes us

    more human and therefore to consider art with an exception or parentheses in the seriousness of

    the life, perhaps it threatens to consider the manifestation of our humanity as an exception or a

    parenthesis, because we fear others and we are afraid of being robbed of something by someone.

    But our humanity can really be an exception? Can you really accept to live constantly with a mask

    that does not belong , except indulge in a few rare moments of truth? What is beautiful has to do

    with the truth. Even about what is artificially beautiful , in fact , the truth says that it is artificial, even

    if beautiful.

    After this so called “philosophical” digression, I return to focus on the issue we are talking about

    and precisely back along the Arsenale, one of two venues of the Biennale of Art and location of the

    installation where you can watch or admire the work of M. Kazhem. I think the location plays its


    The Arsenale is constituted by a series of large buildings which in the past housed the various

    workers involved in the realization of the Venetian galleons and other types of ships. This means

    that you are immersed in the story unlike the area of the Giardini della Biennale, an area which is

    crowned by a series of fascist-era buildings built on purpose for the nations and their artists who

    displayed their work. This is still a story, but more recently than Arsenal. Then the fascist

    architecture does not leave you positive feelings because it refers to a search of Roman classicism

    artificially characterized by square lines where it is predominant the verticality and the horizontality

    in order to express might.

    In the Arsenale instead you find yourself in a popular place, in a place where every day came

    carpenters, blacksmiths, laborers, artisans of various kinds which were striving to achieve those

    “works of art” as Galleons or Gondolas or Caorlinas and so on. So the pavilions in the Arsenal are

    immersed in this past and this is good, because in this way, art is inserted in a place that has been

    lived, where you can still feel the energy of those who came before you.

    Now that we have come in the Arsenale, we perform our daily walk and we arrive at the top of the

    escalator. Go through the door and start the daily and close contact with “walking on water”.

    Staying in touch with this work is never trivial since the water has never been a banal item.

    Staying in the middle of the floating water as on a prow of a boat, hearing the sound of water

    gurgling, being plunged into darkness without any landmarks … this sets off a series of feelings

    and sensations.

    You are in contact with a work of art but at the same time you can feel a particle of the artist’s life,

    his past, his present, his project. Sure do not want to psychoanalyze the artist, but it remains true

    that stand next to the mystery of life remains something inexplicable and is a gift that is

    communicated in this case through a work of art where the perpetual motion of the water predominates and surrounds. For this reason, I leave the task to poetry to express what I am in

    contact with “walking on water”.

    I am glad to share Ocean’s secret by Anne S. Bushby (xxxx – 1875)

    Far, far below old Ocean’s crested wave,

    Deeper than lies the dark and mouldy grave,

    Where nought is heard but water’s plashing sound,

    And all is strange dim mystery around;

    Away, away, in liquid depths beneath,

    Where none of mortal race could live or breathe,

    What wondrous earth-like forms are these

    The startled, awe-struck diver sees?

     A lady stood upon the shattered deck,

    As if her home were on that sunken wreck,

    One jeweled arm around the rigging flung,

    While to its cordage damp her white hand clung;

    She stood erect, and bowed with graceful head

    To him—the  intruder on the ocean’s dead.

    Rich in attire, of beauty rare,

    What does that stately lady there?

    Is she some spirit from the shadowy world,

    Haunting the bark whose sudden shipwreck hurled

    Beings beloved, from light and life, to this

    Cold, gloomy, solitary, deep abyss?

    Comes she to mourn those now in ocean’s bed,

    O’er whom no hallowed parting prayer was said,

    Whose bones, untombed, must whiten there

    Till the last trumpet fills the air?

    Or do his senses wander? Can she be

    One of those fabled daughters of the sea

    Who ride the billows ‘midst the raging storm,

    Or on the undulating waves, whose form

    Is seen to blend with the calm moonlight ray,

    Half hidden by the ocean’s foaming spray?

    Mermaid or spirit–there she stood,

    Immersed in the chill, briny flood!

    And nearer as the mail-clad diver drew,

    Lo! other figures burst upon his view–

    Children in placid sleep, and infants clasped

    In rigid arms that still their treasures grasped.

    Strange mockery of life was yonder sight!

    Strange victory o’er death’s destroying might!

    How came the touch of foul decay

    Thus warded from these forms away?

    He only knows, whose laws Nature obeys–

    Laws from which man alone too often strays.

    The diver’s quest was gold–’twas quickly found;

    Who could purloin it ‘midst the hapless drowned?

    He leaves these life-like figures to their fate,

    The last great day, in ocean’s depths, to wait;

    When all the dead, in earth and sea,

    Shall rise to meet–ETERNITY!

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