The Discovery of Slowness
Not only is the Venice Biennale a highlight in the art calendar it is also a veritable spectacle. When the crowds of people push their way through the famous Giardini with its country pavilions and the throngs reach the halls of the Arsenale you can hardly talk of contemplative art appreciation. The one or other visitor will leave again after a short time to escape the bustle or the scorching sun in the alleyways of the old town
Naturally, contemporary art also puts in an appearance at the Biennale. For example, Swiss art foundation Pro Helvetia can be found in Palazzo Trevisan degli Ulivi for both the art and architecture biennials. On the one hand, the Pro Helvetia Foundation is responsible for selecting the artists for the Swiss Pavilion on the exhibition grounds. This year, the artists are Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz. On the other hand, Pro Helvetia created the "Salon Suisse" in the Palazzo in the Dorsoduro district, a series of events encompassing performances and panel talks, excursions and lectures. The program is supervised by a “salonier”, with a new nominee for every Biennale. This year the honor has gone to Céline Eidenbenz, Director of the Valais Art Museum in Sion, Switzerland.
The ambitious program is made possible thanks to the generous support of Swiss sanitary ceramics manufacturer Laufen. This year marks the eighth time the company is partnering “Salon Suisse”in Venice. It is perhaps not surprising that Laufen should feel such a strong affiliation for art given the exceptional design standard of its own products, and also given its eagerness repeatedly to engage with various genres of art. Since the 1960s, for example, the company has organized the Ceramics Symposium in Gmunden and offers a scholarship as "ceramic artist in residence". During Salone del Mobile 2019, an enormous spatial installation was erected in a former church in Milan together with the New York studio Snarkitecture. At Art Basel 2019, the results of the collaboration with five Brazilian artists will be exhibited under the title "Impressões". Last but not least, Laufen supports the current work shows of the architectural offices Snøhetta in Munich and BIG in Copenhagen.
While this year the installation in the Swiss Pavilion in the Giardini goes by the title “Moving Backwards”the motto of this year’s “Salon Suisse”is “Slow”and focuses on exploring the connection between art and slowness using a wide variety of formats. For the Biennale opening in May the slogan was “Choosing the Rhythm”. Visitors could not only enjoy yoga or massages but also had the chance to participate in the performances “Walking in Every Direction”by Hamish Fulton and “Urban Flourishing" by Isabel Lewis. The decision to place the emphasis on slowness at this year’s “Salon Suisse”was a deliberate move to create an alternative concept to the hustle and bustle of the art business – an option that is likely to find favor with a fair number of visitors. (fap)