“Through a virtual bridge between East and West, we will once again bring the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Venice. In the Sale d’Armi B of the Arsenale, we will propose the theme Faces & Traces thanks to the presence of four artists who have lived experience in the residence for artists in Shanghai. Our pavilion at the Giardini will host only one artist with his incredible installation and his Swatch Art Special watch.“
It begins with the words of Carlo Giordanetti, creative director of Swatch, the fifth consecutive journey of the Swiss watchmaker towards the Venice Biennale as an official partner.
Now in its 58th edition, the International Art Exhibition is confirmed as the most important event dedicated to contemporary art worldwide, with 79 artists from around the world called by the curator Ralph Rugoff to create “May You Live In Interesting Times“, a title that sees its origins in an English expression attributed, erroneously and for a long time, to an ancient Chinese curse where “interesting times” evokes the idea of difficult times, dark and crisis.
Rugoff’s edition does not revolve around a single theme but around many of the precarious aspects that characterize our current existence, thanks to the presence of works that can question the existing categories of thought and also underline the social function of art.
In this context, Swatch, which celebrates its link with the artistic world from East to West, brings with it 5 artists, both established and emerging, in both venues of the Biennale.
The site-specific work by artist Joe Tilson makes the setting of the Giardini even more evocative, while at the Sala d’Armi of the Arsenale there are works by four artists from the Swatch Art Peace Hotel, the Swatch’s artistic residence in Shanghai.
“Swatch is the ideal partner for style, quality and for the way of thinking, designing and doing things” – President Paolo Baratta.
From Venice with Love
This is a summary of the relationship between British artist Joe Tilson and Venice.
Such a great love that, despite his 90 years, he travels with his wife from London to the lagoon city by train, to spend a few months there, so for over 60 years.
And the site-specific installation that stands out colored in the spaces of the Giardini, could not but be a tribute to his beloved city.
The Flags, this is the title of the work, is a revisitation of three paintings entitled “The Stones of Venice“, 24 large colored flags, left free to move in any direction, in which details of his favorite Venetian churches, stone floors, and written engravings are combined.
Tilson, a veteran of the Venice Biennale for which he represented Great Britain at the 32nd edition in 1964, is also the protagonist of one of the traditions that link Swatch to the International Art Exhibition, the limited edition watch that this year has only 2019 pieces.
The Joe Tilson Venetian Watch, inspired by the work “The Stone of Venice, Palazzo Contarini“, fully reflects the artist’s lively and colorful artistic production and can only be purchased at the Biennale bookshop.
Swatch Faces 2019, from Shanghai to Venice
One of the most beautiful initiatives linked to the world of Swatch is certainly the Swatch Art Peace Hotel, the Shanghai-based art residence that since 2011 has hosted more than 350 artists from around the world.
A place of exchange, a place of different cultures and ideas from which works of art of all kinds are born thanks to the collaboration and sharing of time and space.
Four of the international artists who have lived a period of their lives in the residence are now protagonists of the historic Sala d’Armi dell’Arsenale: Santiago Aleman from Spain, Tracey Snelling from the United States, Jessie Yingying Gong from China and Dorothy M Yoon from South Korea.
Santiago Aleman, Levo
Levo, the work of Santiago Aleman, the stage name of Julian Ramirez Rentero, is characterized by the socio-cultural nature of his artistic production.
Hidden behind what seems to be a simple aesthetic, a multiplicity of meanings related to the concepts of social and personal evolution represented through the use of colors, textures, materials, shapes, and structures.
An abstract work that leaves the viewer the possibility of being able to interpret it in a free and subjective way.
Tracey Snelling, Shanghai/Chongqing Hot Pot/Mixtape
Born in 1970, the American artist Tracey Snelling spent six months of her artistic career in residence until February 2019.
Her works are strongly influenced by people, by their way of living the environment that surrounds them, by their cultures and traditions, experiences and emotions.
Shanghai/Chongqing Hot Pot/Mixtape, the multimedia installation created for the Biennale, is a huge souvenir of her trip to China, between Chongqing and Shanghai.
A collection of memories, images, videos, and objects. But also small reproductions of places she has personally visited, including a bar and a tattoo shop, inside which are broadcast videos that show the artist struggling with her daily life in those two places.
A great, colorful and noisy chaos that Snelling calls “Clusterfucks”, where everything mixes giving the whole a disturbing result, but also a very captivating one.
Jessie Yingying Gong, Enfolding, Gender Writing Study
Identity, symbols, and languages are the territories of study and production of the Chinese artist Jessie Yingying Gong.
Enfolding, her work exhibited at the Biennale, is a hymn to the women of the past and their ability to escape a patriarchal system, inventing a new method of communication to exchange words, information, and ideas.
Nüshu, which translated means “women’s writing”, refers to this system of writing that is widespread only among women in the province of Hunan and derives, in all its strangeness, from Chinese ideograms transformed into almost dancing characters.
A phenomenon that then developed also in Japan, with the
Two similar methods in the idea, different in form, that gave the possibility to the female populations to free themselves from the restricted environment that wanted them silent.
Dorothy M Yoon, This Moment is Magic
The work of South Korean artist Dorothy M Yoon was born during her stay at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in 2017.
Halfway between reality and fantasy, between her life and magic, the artist transforms everything that lives into something more.
An analgesic injection given to her when, 7 years ago, she was diagnosed with cancer became a magic wand, while the chemical stimulation she received became the custom of a magical girl fighting against evil.
Yoon’s art aims to transform pain, the memory of it and all suffering into fantasy and future, recalling these moments as moments of magic.
The works of the Swatch artists, along with the rest of the exhibition, will remain open until November 24, 2019.
Dispassionate advice? You don’t have to miss it.