giardini – catch that pigeon…

Arriving in the Giardini, the first thing i noticed were the pigeons…which at first i thought were real…

but as i entered the Central Pavilion (often called the Italian Pavilion) of the Venice Biennale and i found them everywhere, invading the art space i realised it was in fact an old work by Maurizio Cattelan called Others

…how appropriate as the pigeons metaphorically crapped over some of the pretty dubious choices made by the “controversial” curator of the Central (Italian) Pavilion, Vittorio Sgarbi. However let’s dwell on the positive…

Polish artist Monika Sosnowska conceived a star shaped, wallpapered Para-Pavilion, inside which hangs the powerful and effecting photography of South African photographer, David Goldblatt. If you have the time, read the stories under the photographs, it is really worth the effort…

Ex Offenders at the Scene of the Crime is the title given to Goldblatt’s series…

David Goldblatt on the series Ex Offenders: “Very many South Africans have been the victims of crime, often violent. We have either suffered it personally or we know someone close who has. With much stress and considerable expenditure of income we try to protect our persons and property. Yet withal we remain extremely vulnerable to attack by people who would seize our property and damage or end our lives. Having been a victim of armed robbers, muggers and thieves I asked myself who are the people who are doing this to us. Are they monsters? Ordinary people? Could they be my children? Are they you and me? I wanted to burrow under the statistics and meet some of these doers of crime as individuals. I wanted to do portraits and ask, Who are you, what makes you tick, what did you do, how did you come to do it, what do you think of what you did, what will you do now? Who to photograph and where? Even if I could meet active criminals they would not be likely to agree to being photographed or to answering such questions. I did not want to photograph prisoners in jail. I wanted to meet perpetrators as ‘ordinary’ people such as one might encounter in a street or supermarket. And I wanted to do this in situations that were somehow related to the crimes they had committed or of which they had been accused. So I came to people who had been accused of crime, found guilty and been punished. If they had been in prison, they were now free or on parole. Where to do the portraits? It seemed to me that the scene of crime is likely to be a place of special significance. Life-changing events were probably experienced there. So, with the exception of two portraits that I did at the place of arrest, it is at the scene of crime that I have been doing the photographs. Thus these photographs and the stories of the people within them. Most were trying, often in desperately difficult circumstances, to go straight. Hence I call them not criminals, not offenders, but ex-offenders.”

other posts on the venice biennale 2011 in this blog

pavilions inside gardens inside the biennale

stars of track and field we are

my “i imposter”

stars of track and field we are

2 responses to “giardini – catch that pigeon…

  1. It was also one of my favorite works, although I have some doubt…(the “staging” at the scene of the crime, all of the “happy endings”..) but at least he’s engaging with the highly complex and very present in South Africa’s society issue of crime, and breaking it down to a socio-political and human analysis.

  2. Ciao S!
    Yes, for sure, the “happy endings” were problematic for me too but the collective stories are so powerful, that the work resonated with me for a long time. Also i really appreciate work where you are left to make up your own mind from the material/work that is presented. On a practical point i also really liked Monika Sosnowska’s reworking of the space itself..

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