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fig.: Bags filled with press material were handed out on the press opening day of the 54th Biennale di Venezia on 1 June 2011. From above: 'The Last Look' by Lateeta bint Maktoum on the bag of the Pavilion of the United Arab Emirates; Black/white bag with photo from the installation 'Chance' by Christian Boltanski, French Pavilion; winged lion-bag for the overview press material of 'La Biennale di Venezia'.

fig.: 'The Wheel of Fortune' - installation view on Christian Boltanski's 'Chance' inside the French Pavilion.

by publisher Karin Sawetz
June 2011
Karin Sawetz is journalist, media researcher
and fashion scientist (Mag. Dr. phil.).

"From where have you got this bag?"

The 54th Biennale di Venezia has offered on the press opening day on 1 June 2011 so many interesting destinations (89 participating countries!) that one criteria for fashion addicted visitors to plan the tour through the Arsenale and the Giardini could had been the style of the individual pavilion-bags. On this page, you can see three that looked nice on the shoulders of the journalists, galerists, curators...; two of them are from country pavilions; one is from the organisation team of the Biennale.

I have got the first one on this page from the Pavilion of the United Arab Emirates. The slightly glossy print on the linen woven material shows a woman at the sea holding a coffer. The image 'The Last Look' by Lateeta bint Maktoum (living in Dubai) is originally a photo montage on archival paper (219x148 cm) which was installed in a huge room on a quasi 'Island' arrangement together with other images by the artist. The pavilion-bag looks good; but the image in real is more impressing. It's not the scenery alone; because what you can't see on this bag-image is Lateeta bint Maktoum's digital alternation of the original photo. She applies with this technique a breathtaking tension between the visible contents: nature (flora and fauna of the sea) and urbanisation (symbolised through the coffer).

The next bag - the one with the baby face, was handed out at the French Pavilion. The baby face is one of many faces that are running in Christian Boltanski's installation 'Chance' like in an industrial production process (remembers the traditional printer machinery). The machinery with the name 'The Wheel of Fortune' (image on this page) is surrounded by three other rooms - on the left side a room with digital numbers in green (for the newborn) and in the right room red numbers for humans who die; the numbers which are published in these two 'Last News from Humans'-rooms are the births/deaths on one average day. In the third additional room, Christian Boltanski has set up a sort of face-gambler-suite. This 'Be New' installation is made of baby faces and portraits of deceased persons (ratio: 60 babies to 52 older humans). The images are running like in a game machine. The visitor can stop the run and three pictures are put together randomly to one face. In the press material is stated: "Like them, we are physically just a puzzle."

The third bag is showing a reduced graphical illustration of a winged lion (which is probably the most renowned symbol of Venice). Almost everybody had it on his/her shoulder as it is the bag for the press kit of the 54th Biennale di Venezia.

Other 'fashion'-views on the 54th Biennale di Venezia:
"Where is the 'Louis Vuitton'-pavilion?"
I took the seat beneath a woman and started talking about the pavilions...
"Is the Frog King on Twitter?"
...asks the visitor into the webcam of the installation 'Frogtopia - Hongkornucopia' by the Hong Kong (China) artist 'Frog King' during the 54th Biennale di Venezia...
Digital media artist in a plastic suit
...another part screened the documentation of the plastic suit performance '30 Days of Running in the Place' with the artist in his especially designed 'sweat-suit' sitting in front of a laptop...
Solidarity bag in Venice; Insight by publisher Karin Sawetz
Unfortunately I couldn't take a photo from the red-white-red bag with my own camera. Back in Vienna, I have received images from the Kunsthaus Bregenz (Austria) which distributed 5.000 'Ai Weiwei'-solidarity bags at the 54th Biennale di Venezia...
Venice Insight by publisher Karin Sawetz: 'What Women Want(?)' the title of an exhibition during the 54th Biennale di Venezia which I won't show but bespeak picture-less. I will explain my decision why I don't publish the images.

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