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April 19 2014

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Postcard From Venice: Laure Heriard Dubreuil Reports From The Biennale

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The Webster co-founder Laure Heriard Dubreuil and her boyfriend, artist Aaron Young, hit Venice this week for the legendary Biennale di Venezia. For those farther than a vaporetto away from the action, she’s sending back updates on the sights and the sounds (and a few parties, too).

Thursday was another beautiful day in Venice, and we went to see all of the countries’ pavilions at the Giardini. Even before seeing the art, I was blown away by the very intense smell of jasmine, my favorite fragrance and the one I wear. The entire fence surrounding the garden is covered by blossoming jasmine flowers.

At the American Pavilion, we got very lucky and spotted Guillermo Calzadilla, who’s representing the U.S. with his partner, Jennifer Allora. He let us in instantly to see Body in Flight (Delta), a performance by Sadie Wilhelmi on their sculpture, which looks like Delta airline seats (above). Another gymnast performed nearby in Body in Flight (American)—with American Airlines. Their work is about pushing the limits. The gymnasts are portraying this tension and unease everybody feels when we’re stuck in our plane chairs and feel like wandering around, but can only do so in our heads. Spending so much time in the air, I could totally relate—I found the pieces absolutely breathtaking!

After the performances, I retrieved some money from the piece called Algorithm, a custom-made pipe organ incorporating a fully functioning ATM (left). Each key I pressed made the organ blow different notes. Unfortunately, I missed out on Track and Field, for which an Olympian ran on a treadmill atop an overturned, 52-ton military tank. I’ll have to come back for it! I didn’t catch that performance, but I did bump into Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci (with me, above) and Fabiola Beracasa browsing the pavilion.

On the way back to the hotel, I snuck over to my favorite vintage jewelry store, A. Codognato. Italy always puts me in a jewelry mood, and I always stop in at the vintage jewelry stores each time I go to Milano for the fashion weeks. I think that Italian women have such beautiful jewelry!

After a quick change, we’re on our way to the Palazzo Fortuny for Axel Vervoordt’s TRA.Edge of Becoming exhibition, which featured works by Matthew Barney, Shirin Neshat, and Marina Abramovic, among others. I was intrigued by Marina’s piece, Healed Inner Sky (1991-2011) (left): It’s a very unusual shape hanging upside down. When you walk underneath it, it becomes clear—it’s an amethyst stone, with crystals inside.

We stopped at the Barry X. Ball exhibition at the Museo del Settecento Veneziano—Barry told us it’s showcasing half of all of his work from the past 15 years. The museum is an outstanding palazzo, and Barry’s additions seem, oddly enough, to fit in perfectly. His masterpiece is called Sleeping Hermaphrodite. Every Italian coming into the room couldn’t stop himself from whispering “Fantastico!” The sculpture comes from a Roman copy of a Greek sculpture that belongs to the Louvre. (Bernini made the bed for it when he was only 19!) Barry scanned the entire piece and reproduced it in a single block of black marble. But he told us that he actually went to a sex shop in NYC to do the cast of the hermaphrodite’s sex—he felt the original was too small!

Photos: Laure Heriard Dubreuil

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