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From the Venice Biennale to Belgian Scarabs: What Struck My Eye Last Month

Here we are: with the coming months already full of new projects about to start, before jumping into workshops, masterclasses and lectures I just wanted to take a moment to share with you three pictures I took in the past weeks, as they sum up different forms of art I have experienced in August.

Chiharu Shiota's "The Key is in the Hand" at the Japanese Pavilion, Venice Art Biennale 2015.

I visited the Venice Art Biennale probably at the peak of the heat in the city, which by default made walking through the Gardens more enjoyable than the Arsenale itself. There, at the Japanese Pavilion, I discovered The Key in the Hand, an installation by Chiharu Shiota. Political issues, assemblage and re-use were at the core of so many pieces of this year’s exhibition, but I think this work went in a different direction. In Shiota’s own words, the project tries to “represent memories, opportunities and hope”. It is very poetic, lyrically focused on a timeless theme, and of course brilliantly executed. This is definitely among my personal highlights from Biennale 2015.

Jan Fabre, "Cross with Snake, II" 2012.

After leaving Italy, I spent a few days in Belgium and visited the city of Namur in the footsteps of artists Félicien Rops and Jan Fabre. In striking contrast with the extremely hot Venice, this time the rainy weather made walking around the city in search of Fabre’s sculptures, including his world famous scarabs, a bit daunting but it was absolutely worth it. The Musée Rops, where the dialogue between the two artists was mainly developed and showcased through the exhibition Facing time, is a truly gem of audience engagement: pieces and explanations were always clearly curated, extremely detailed, elegantly displayed. Highly recommended.

Lake Nambino, close to Madonna Di Campiglio on the Italian Dolomites.

In-between art exhibitions, I also went on a different trail. I spent a few days hiking in the mountains of Trentino, and reached a few nice spots such as the Nardis Waterfalls, Lake Nambino, and the source of the River Sarca at Madonna di Campiglio. A totally different form of art indeed, as the mountains, gorges and forests could not help but remind me of 17th and 18th-century landscape painting. That sense of sublime, coupled with the delicious local cuisine, was one of the best cultural experiences I had in a long time.