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Venice’s Biennial is back on for 2013, with a host of sculptures, exhibits and installations from around the world.
More than 150 artists will be vying for the attention of the eager crowds. This year, ten countries are debuting at the event, including the Vatican – surprisingly – and the Bahamas, both with their own pavilions.
The Russian pavilion features golden rain in the form of coins falling on visitors with umbrellas. It’s an anti-capitalist metaphor by Vadim Zakharov. But it draws from the mythological legend of Danae, a Greek princess locked away by her father King Akrisios after he learned of a prophecy that she would bear a child that would one day slay him. Despite no men being allowed in, Zeus infiltrates her prison and impregnates her in the guise of a shower of gold. Danae later gives birth to Perseus and mother and baby are set adrift by the king, but the gods see to it that the child survives. The adult Perseus later fulfils the prophecy and kills his grandfather.
Visitors to the British pavilion are met with ‘Good Day for a Cyclist’, a large mural of a hen harrier carrying off a Range Rover in its talons. The piece forms part of “English Magic,” Jeremy Deller’s fantastical portrayal of both the light and dark sides of Britain, with six interconnected rooms. Birds of prey feature heavily, particularly on the centrepiece murals.
Much of the show is shot through with irreverence. The hen harrier allegedly reflects an incident on the Queen’s Sandringham Estate, in which two of the protected birds were seen being shot out of the sky by two passers-by. According to Deller, only Prince Harry and a friend were the only known people with guns in the area that time, but no charges were brought, despite a police investigation.
Elsewhere, a mural of a man hurling a super-yacht into the sea is a pointed dig at Roman Abramovich, whose 377-foot yacht Luna blocked the view at the 2011 Biennale, whilst moored alongside Giardini quay.
And a metal snake can be found winding it’s way round the Swiss pavilion. The show by the Italian-speaking Valentin Carron also features a homage to Italy with a Vespa.
The Venice Art Biennial runs until 24 November 2013.