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This is part two:
Wolfgang Hock's commentary on the Florence Biennale in 2021
Then suddenly at an Art Bienniale:
The fashion designer Vivienne Westwood surrounded by her fans,
mostly young women and girls who want to study with her or work as models.
Why is she honored with a prize at an Art Bienniale ?
Vivienne Westwood is a multi-millionaire, her boutiques are in London (4),
in England (7), Vienna, Paris, Milan (2),
Los Angeles, Honolulu, Guam, Singapore (2), Bangkok (2), Hong Kong (9)
as well as numerous stores and shops-in-shops in Japan (50), South Korea (18) and Taiwan (6).
Vivienne Westwood cafés in Shanghai and Hong Kong have been offering pastries since 2015.
At the round table discussion on October 27th with
Vivienne Westwood (fashion designer),
Michelangelo Pistoletto (artist) and Oliveiro Toscani (photographer),
there was a scandal:
She explained us "stupid" the world:
"We have no future: the financial system is based on perpetual war, a trade war, that's it !",
"True economy is based on the value of land that doesn't belong to anyone",
"Cooperation instead of competition",
"The world is facing an apocalypse", "S.O.S" would send our planet etc.
An erratic claim after another just stayed in the vacuum,
without any discussion about their truthfulness or possible solutions to such future problems,
everything read from a sheet of paper.
Westwood simply clung to the trend of certain Scandinavian activists,
is therefore a "copycat" imitating their slogans,
this way hoping to attract as much attention like the young environmental activists all over the world today.
In order not to be misunderstood: I am also in favor of rethinking to save the climate etc.,
but we need to be able to discuss how we want to put that into practice.
Please no blackmail by new authoritarian people and groups!
When exactly that the two artists Michelangelo Pistoletto and Oliveiro Toscani
tried to discuss with her,
she felt apparently questioned and attacked, so that she loudly and literally countered:
which was absolutely embarrassing and insulting, but was enthusiastically celebrated by her fans.
For me completely incomprehensible: After all, it was precisely the "bad" capitalism that contributed to that
Westwood is so famous and rich today. Her fashion shows are extremely competitive.
A contradiction that she can hardly explain.
Thereupon the discussion rounds remained silent for minutes or mutual accusations etc.
Giovanni from the organization tried to mediate ...
Perplexity of the organizers Jacobo Celona, Piero and Pasquale Celona ...
After Westwood had left, Michelangelo Pistoletto went on arguing with young people for a long time.
Finally, after endless discussions, he and his family left exhausted.
In principle, I found such an debate very good because it clearly showed
what happens if you mix art and fashion design too much - like at this Biennale -
with insufficient consideration of the specifics and differences between art and design.
Design is advertising, favor, fashion, extravagance, in vogue, applied arts, handicrafts, etc.
Art is something completely different!
Renata in front of a painting by Wolfgang Hock
Another guest of honor at the Biennale: Tamara De Lempicka
Tamara De Lempicka, born in Poland in 1898 and died in Mexico in 1980,
her Art Deco painting has to do with the theme of the Biennale: Eternal Feminine - Eternal Change.
The contact with Renaissance painting on a trip to Florence in 1911
was decisive for her artistic development.
Nowadays, Art Deco is back in fashion, especially in design.
So one can understand that she was mentioned as a deceased guest of honor at this Biennale.
What I found very strange was that a great-granddaughter received this art award,
who did not provide a single original painting of Lempicka.
After all, you have no idea of the original size, material, painting style, etc.
What you got to see at the Biennale were exclusively so-called "original serigraphs",
i.e. nothing more than reproductions of oil paintings, well framed behind glass.
The word "original" was not handled properly here, because the artist died a long time ago,
these serigraphs were made much later.
So no trace of the "original"!
If, for example, Gerhard Richter has made of his paintings so-called "original serigraphy",
then these are adjusted (examined by him), hand-signed (by him) and limited serigraphs,
so something completely different from the serigraphs here at the Biennale.
That is not a minor matter: I insist on this crucial difference!
On top of that comes
that these reproductions of Lempicka
hung tightly together with original artworks by the participating artists of today (!),
without separation or extra department,
so that an inexperienced viewer could become completely confused:
It could lead to an ahistorical view of art.
I thought that was the biggest mistake ever!
And that in a city as steeped in history as Florence!
There were also very good and touching moments at this biennale:
The documentary "Can't stop the sun from shining" 2019 by Teresa Mular from Argentina
Jacobo Celona and the artist Teresa Mular from Argentina.
But now to the jury and the awarding of prizes at this Biennale.
A total of ten jurors were announced in the catalog and on the official website of the Biennale,
but apparently fewer came. Eleza Ajzenberg (São Paulo / Brazil) were missing
and two other jurors from the Far East.
What an art historian from the Vatican is doing here in this jury (the gentleman in the middle),
I can't understand. What is the Catholic Church's interest in the Biennale?
From my point of view, everything that has to do with design was one-sidedly preferred,
what you can already see from the fact that in the previous selection before the Biennale,
the "International Open Call Competition", an illustrator as an artist and a photo designer
with their glossy photos - typical for photo magazines - were awarded.
If you look at the art or design categories, it becomes even clearer:
A distinction was made between design and art indeed, but within the art categories
there were many categories that had nothing to do with art:
e.g. "Ceramic Art",
"Textile and Fiber Art",
"Photography" - as it was mostly understood here (designer photography),
"New Media Art" - as it was mostly understood here (3D - derived from photography) and
"Sculpture" - as it was mostly understood here (material aesthetic designer objects).
And this is a slap in the face for me and all artists:
Here the design of a racing car was awarded, which was mainly applauded by the juror and art historian
Francesco Buranelli, General Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Heritage of the Church
in Vatican City. Such a car costs - believe it or not - from 850,000 euros or more.
Two such cars were exhibited as design works of art at this Biennale!
What is the Catholic Church's interest in racing cars in this price category ?
Here is a small compilation of award-winning works,
which from my point of view have nothing to do with art:
For me it is particularly noticeable that almost all of the works that were awarded here
have been assessed by me as negative, decorative, kitschy and overly pleasing.
But it was precisely these works that were awarded a prize by the jury on the last day of the Biennale.
Conclusion: This Biennale wasn't about art, it was just about design.
On top of that, I had the impression that most of the jurors hadn't even bothered
view the original works on site. Except for one or two, I haven't seen any in front of my or other artworks.
Apparently they voted on the basis of images in the catalog!
This all is too bad, so I don't think this is the right place for my art.
Bye-bye Florence ...
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