It has now been over two weeks since I got back from Venice, and I’m slowly writing a full article about the exhibition to post here. It’s taking much longer than I expected, and I keep procrastinating by reading online reviews and blogs so that now my mind is completely overflowing with the subject and, frankly, a little bored with it. It can be gratifying when I find an article where the writer’s opinion is the same as mine, and I feel like I actually might have gotten it right. Then I have to slap myself on the wrist and remind myself that there is no correct way to interpret art. Just because someone has put their ideas down on paper (or online) it doesn’t make them any more valid.
While in the midst of my procrastinating / research I came across an interview by Tim Griffin with Daniel Birnbaum, the Curator of the Biennale, in the May edition of Artforum. “I think that a Biennale can be seen as a place where more or less successful translations and productive misreadings take place." Caoimhín Corrigan, when speaking about his (slightly controversial) choice of Sarah Browne and Garreth Kennedy for the Irish pavilion, told an audience at their studio in Temple Bar Gallery & Studios that he wanted to select, not the best artists for the Biennale, but the artists that would be right for the Biennale “this time" That the Biennale can be seen as constantly in a state of growth and flux is a good thing. Rather than treat it as a stall on which to set out our ‘best offerings’ (artists at the peak of their career), maybe it is more interesting to give the opportunity to less tested artists and, in showing confidence in them, allow them to rise to the occasion.
In the same interview, Birnbaum went on to say, “…if it is true…that with each language’s disappearance from the world something of the imaginary in the world dissapears with it, then it is likewise true that the imaginary is enriched with every language’s translation into another." One of Kennedy Browne’s works at Venice involves the translation of a text by Milton Friedman into 40 languages using Google translate, a game of chinese whispers that in the end results in a page of uninteligalble text a bit reminiscent of beat poetry. For the title of this year’s Biennale, ‘Making Worlds’ was translated into several different languages, and Birnbaum has indicated that the fact that these words take on very slight differences of meaning in each language is an integral part of the title of the exhibition. Sarah Browne and Garreth Kennedy seem to have (unknowingly?) tapped into one of Burnbaum’s overriding themes for Venice and, along with the millions of daily users of Google translate, enriched the world’s imaginary at the same time.