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‘The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied’. At Fondazione Prada, Venice, Italy
October 28, 2017
What happens when a filmmaker, an artist, a set designer and a curator take over a space – and not just any space, but a breathtaking historical three floored palazzo right in the middle of Venice? This is the premise of an exceptional and ambition multimedia project “The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied.” by the threo Alexander Kluge (an author and academic), Thomas Demand (a sculptor) and Anna Viebrock (a stage designer), all coordinated by curator Udo Kittelmann.
The exhibition is housed in a Gothic palazzo which was in the first half of the 18th century extended and redesigned into a grand baroque palace. Owned by the noble Corner family it then went into the hands of Pope Pius VII, becoming a credit collection office for the poor, and later the historical archive of the Venice Biennale. Now the Venitian headquarters of the Fondazione Prada, the palace remains a site of endless metamorphosis. Kluge, Demand and Viebrock have offered another new temporal transformation for the building through “The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied.”
The palazzo becomes a sensorial space: not only the large floors have been given a new conformation but also the new corridors, doors, windows and rooms create a disorienting experience with no beginning or end point. This way the visitor shapes his or her own narrative, navigating through the varied visual material offered; be it architectural, photographic or video. Kittelmann interestingly defines the exhibitions as a visual dramaturgy through which the aesthetic experience is never disconnected from the social, historical and political dimension. Themes of migration, labour and social justice emerge from real and fictitious images of the past and the present.
The show incites laughter, sadness, confusion and excitement. The visitor moves, sits, watches and reads, and yet all possible narratives are unstable, information is mixed, images are deformed – everything here is quite not right. Is the visitor the passenger of the leaking boat? Or the captain who lied?
Art, theatre and cinema merge eliminating the structural differences between the photography, film and architecture. But this is a very unsual practice and a first for the three artists. As Kittelmann stated, it is a fortunate and happy coincidence that Kluge’s filmic production, Demand’s photographic work and Viebrock’s set designs met as one collective project; until now their work has developped and has been shown seperately although they have known each other for a long time and often have exchanged and confronted each other’s ideas.
Words by Victoria de Zanche.
The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied at Fondazione Prada, Venice, Italy, until 26th November 2017
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