Venice by train: Part 4. Venice Biennale

Rialto  fish market, Venice
Day 4: Tuesday 27 October 2015
Tuesday was Biennale day, theme All the World’s Futures. I got up early to look round the Rialto fish market, and all kinds of weird and wonderful seafood was on offer. Next door is an amazing fruit and veg market with all kinds of mushrooms and misshapen tomatoes. We got the vaporetto from Rialto Mercato, our nearest stop and got off at Giardini. There is a mystery stop not on any maps called Giardini Biennale, but it's only a couple of yards from this one. I bought the tickets (my senior one cost €20 and included Arsenale too) and entered the park. First pavilion was Spain with a mixed show, including an adults-only magazine stall, behind a curtain!

Spanish porn, Venice Biennale Giardini
Spanish porn
Next was Belgium as we carried on up the left side clockwise, then Holland, then a big general one. Some pavilions has a mixed show; others had a single artist. Some were minimal (like Austria); others were cluttered (like Greece). We did them all except the ones that involved climbing. Then I got a free ride on a very slow fairground ride by Carsten Höller, the slide man. Favourites: the moving tree by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot in the French pavilion, the dazzling revolutionary red and perestroika green room by Irina Nakhova in the Russian pavilion (and the giant pilot's head), and the Japanese keys on red threads by Chiharu Shiota. Not forgetting our own Sarah Lucas in the GB pavilion.

Russian Pavilion, Venice Biennale Giardini
Russian pavilion
I found the pavilions themselves as interesting as the art within, many are art deco and were built for extinct countries. The Yugoslavian pavilion houses Serbia: the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic share a space…
Japanese Pavilion, Venice Biennale Giardini
We could have spent a week in there, but there was also the Arsenale to see! A couple of stops on the vaporetto into town and we're at the Arsenale.

Venice Biennale at Arsenale
It's big! It's one long thin building which goes on and on and on, about three artists' spaces wide and miles long. We couldn't possibly see it all and some routes were blocked by school parties. Basically, we stopped when something caught our eye. I was taken by a couple of drawing projects: imaginary schoolboy weapons from Abu Bakarr Mansaray (Sinister project 2006) and factory drawings by Joachim Schönfeldt, which were being drawn by some British kids. At the end of the long building, we emerged into daylight to find we'd covered just about half the site, completely cultured out!

Half way! Venice Biennale
Half way?
The flooded Tuvalu (Vincent J. F. Huang, on climate change) and Irish pavilions (Sean Lynch) were nearby, so we visited them and called it a day. We didn't get to see any of the others dotted around the city.

Posh cicchetti, was advised to start from the right
After a beer, some Venetian sushi and a lie down, Sam and Teege treated me to a very posh meal at Alle Corone restaurant in the AI Reali hotel, just over the Rialto Bridge. I had their version of cicchetti, every piece of seafood imaginable that would have fed four, followed by turbot on cauli mash, served with a nice red wine, the first in Italy. We were also treated to an amuse-bouche from the chef of tuna and beans and then some chocolates for afters, and there was a cheesy pianist playing in the next door bar. It was another beer by the canal, near the hotel, then bed!

More photos on Flickr.

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