2017 Venice Biennale

Only in Venice: A Familiar-Looking Video Installation Saves Me When Lost in the Venice Labyrinth

A restaurant in Venice at night.COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

A restaurant in Venice at night.

COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

And here I was thinking I was being responsible leaving the Bauer Hotel at a decent hour, despite the fact that the art world’s itinerant martini-swilling faction had most emphatically sidled up to the bar, with no apparent interest in calling it a night. There is, I recall reasoning, art to see the next morning.

But perhaps it wasn’t a great idea to step blindly into the labyrinthine web of Venice alleyways with ten-percent battery on my phone. It died almost immediately. And, with the ARTnews pad a good 25 minutes’ walk from the Grand Canal, it wasn’t a great idea to just wing it. And then there was some sort of video installation, playing above a dimly lit restaurant, Al Colombo, on San Marco. Taking it to be a Biennale bat signal of some sort, I walked in to find a white-maned gentleman sitting and smoking at the far end, with his phone plugged into a portable charger. I stammered something about needing some juice, and suddenly he switched his phone out for mine, gin and tonic appeared on the paper-covered table and we got to talking about the work on display throughout the city. He loves the Damien Hirst show.

After a few minutes of charging, with enough battery left to power the map that would get me home, I asked the man, who turned out to be a lifelong Venetian and the second-generation owner of the restaurant, who did the video work on display by the wall.

“Oh that?” he said. “It’s a work by my good friend Lola Schnabel. Her family has been coming here for years.”

Copyright 2017, Art Media ARTNEWS, llc. 110 Greene Street, 2nd Fl., New York, N.Y. 10012. All rights reserved.

  • Issues