Emma Lavigne /
Director of Centre Pompidou-Metz and Curator of the French Pavilion
I was ten. I spent a memorable day there with my Italian family. I associate Venice with supernatural light, the kind of effect pervading The Last Supper by Tintoretto, painted in 1592, which you can see in the San Giorgio Maggiore church. The lamp above the Apostles illuminating the room is suspended as if in levitation. An emotion which I also felt in front of Joseph Kosuth's words in yellow neon lights, The Language of Equilibrium, on the walls of the monastery on the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni for the 2007 Biennale, and in front of the golden shafts of shimmering light of the Ttéia by Lygia Pape for the 2009 edition, directed by Daniel Birnbaum. The Garden of Disorder Okwui Enwezor's ambitious and radically different project, the highlight of which will be The Garden of Disorder. It revisits the traditional venue of the Giardini – founded by Napoleon – and the various national pavilions to be found there, in an attempt to reappraise the current geopolitical climate.
The Danish Pavilion Danh Vo's project for the Danish pavilion, which echoes Slip of the Tongue – the exhibition he is curating for the Pinault Collection at the Punta della Dogana. This promises to be a subtle blend of works by artists such as Nairy Baghramian, Nancy Spero, Petrit Halilaj, Peter Hujar, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Alina Szapocznikow, without eclipsing his own work, so tinted with his own history.
“Rêvolutions” by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot It's the outcome of an experimental situation. To use the words of John Cage “it's an action the outcome of which is not foreseen”. He makes use of the French pavilion which evokes the 'follies' to be found in the Romantic parks of the 18th century. It becomes the scene of an apparition and turns into an experimental ecosystem resulting in a state of nature never seen before. Under the high glass roof and along the tree-lined paths Boursier-Mougenot creates a magical choreography for three trees which move slowly according to their metabolism, the variations of the flow of their sap, or their reaction when passing from shade into light. These chimeras, halfway between nature and machine, are the fruit of an animist vision of the trees, which turns them into 'transHumUs', gifted with a will of their own and suddenly breaking free from their roots. The challenge for the artist is to take hold of the systems controlling living beings and their movements so as to compose a poetic work in which a sensitive human being can escape into areas of freedom and unconventional beauty. The Zattere A stroll on the Zattere along the Giudecca canal is what makes me feel at home in Venice. I love to feel the sea breeze with the music of the Venetian composer Luigi Nono in my ears. His Fragmente-Stille, an Diotima fits in so well with the silence, the atmosphere and the light shimmering on the lagoon. You can eat on the terrace of Trattoria Altanella, one of Nono's favourite haunts.
Trattoria Altanella Giudecca, 268 Tel 041-522 7780
Venetian Gardens The garden of the Peggy Guggenheim museum in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni – so-called because a lion was supposedly caged up there; the Giardini where the air is filled with the fragrance of lime-blossom and jasmine; the garden in the Palazzo Saranzo Cappello – where there used to be an open-air theatre; the most moving is Alma Malher's garden, just a stone's throw from the Church of the Frari. I love exploring this oasis of greenery with its magnolia and olive trees which she described as 'a true paradise'. The garden is adjacent to the house she “created from nothing” and where she lived with Oskar Kokoschka, then with her last husband Franz Werfel. Now it's a stylish B&B.
Oltre il Giardino San Polo 2542 Fondamenta Contarini Tel 041-275 0015 oltreilgiardino-venezia.com La Scuola degli Schiavonni Vittore Carpaccio's work remains so incredibly powerful, especially the cycle of paintings commissioned in 1502 and housed in the Scuola degli Schiavonni. The Vision of Saint Augustine is a masterpiece. Carpaccio depicts the studio of a true humanist with a passion for reading, astronomy, sculpture and music. I like to stop, linger and contemplate it. It seems so fresh and contemporary although it was painted more than 5 centuries ago.
Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni Castello