Chamber of Public Secrets

Biennale of Poetry and Irony

Curator, art critic and long-term Tableau correspondent Jonathan Turner visits the 55th Venice Biennale, and reviews how the international world of contemporary art can still react in direct response to specific national issues. This includes the theme of financial strife (videos based on poverty and cash by Stefanos Tsivapoulos at the Greek pavilion), didactic installations about tea ceremonies and commuter-overcrowding (Koki Tanaka at the Japanese pavilion), documentaries focusing on unemployment and exemplary human behaviour during a time of social uncertainty at the Catalonian pavilion, and quirky artworks based on rising sea-levels and climate change at the pavilion of the Maldives.

“Choose between architecture and marine life”, proclaims one slogan at “Portable Nation”, the show from The Maldives at the Gervasuti Foundation reinterpreting today’s romantic attitudes towards environmentalism. “Save the city or preserve the lagoon – a difficult choice for Venetians.” Welcome to the ironic new world order.

Original article: Biënnale van Poëzie en Ironie
Translated text: The biennale of irony and poetry