"We can not appreciate art if it remains locked in a fortress," Massimiliano Gioni said in his Biennale Arte interview. Thierry Geoffroy, a Danish-French artist representing the Maldives Pavilion exemplifies this notion. Today the conceptual artist and troublemaker decided to shake things up at the Biennale by staging an intervention at the Giardini confronting climate change. His "Mobile Emergency Room" project, as he calls it, poses the question, "Can Emergencies Be Ranked?"
Things got heated with the police when Geoffrey placed his green tent, reading, "Can a nation welcome another nation" in dripping red spray paint beside the Israeli Pavilion. "We want to pose the question that if the Maldives goes in the water like Tuvalu... If this is real - 400,000 people - where do they go in 20 years?" Geoffrey told me, standing next to the new location of the tent (about 30 feet away from the other location). The artist received permission from the Israelis to place the tent next door, but the police intervened when they saw the obstruction.
"It's a bit amazing in a place protected like that, that a guy like me can [set up the tent] and pose this question. It's positive," Geoffrey said, despite being hassled about the project by the authorities. "At this moment, there are ministers, presidents, queens, millionires -- the heavy brainy powerful population is here, together."
Geoffrey was wearing a blue UN hat and was accompanied by a filmmaker wearing a white and red "Biennialist" headband. A group of young artists sporting the noticable handmade headbands were seen around the Giardini today, causing the mostly unflappable Biennale crowd to do double takes.
It's interventions like these that give me hope for contemporary art.
In other news, the Venice Biennale Ideological Guide is available for free here.
Let's keep it critical, Biennal-ists! Make Robert Hughes proud, why don't you?