VENICE BIENNALE DIARY MAY 30

Hector draws circles in a very ritualistic manner and the black charcoal that he crunches in his mouth drips. It seems at once Medieval and futuristic. his performances, as he describes them, mediate movement, endurance, and ritualistic processes.

By Claire Zakiewicz

May 30

I wake and try to let myself sleep for longer but anxiety creeps into me like it did yesterday and I realise the best thing I can do is to get up and get to work.

I go to the gallery and wonder how I will shape the closing reception. Will I perform, play a film or give a speech? Again, I decide to plan for either of these possibilities. I keep on having ideas and then ditching them. I play some drumming music that seemed to be open source from an app – shaman drumming for journeying – and I play it over and over while preparing in the morning. I decide against using it for performance but perhaps the drumming set the scene for the day.

I go to the gallery carrying a roll of paintings on my shoulder, the weather is overcast but the forecast has promised a dry day. The crowds between San Marco and San Stefano are thick and my roll of paintings is long.

I decide to edit some of my films to screen during the closing reception and also play around with a musical track that I composed a few years ago – drawing onto a drum in response to a friend’s table drumming – but this work causes my computer to freeze for the rest of the day and it doesn’t work properly until half-way through my closing reception. The Aesthetics of Failure turns out to be a comforting name for the exhibition, learning to embrace failure is truly helpful.

A friend arrives and we go for coffee. Coffee turns into prosecco as we meet another friend who is celebrating her birthday. They advise me on deals for this evening’s supply of wine and snacks and I manage to borrow an ice bucket.

Sitting back at the gallery I make the decision not to perform and I immediately relax. It is becoming increasingly apparent that many friends are making the effort to be at the event this evening. Giving a speech, showing video works and supporting Hector seems right. As it turns out I would have had one of my most captive audiences but I made the right decision. We had 10 -15 people who arrived for the performance at 6:30 – even though the start time was advertised for 7:00, some came to give me a hand. I was touched by that. I am interviewed about my work by one of Anita’s friends, which is filmed. By the time the performance was due to start – at 7:30 pm, I was keen for it to start promptly. My experience in Venice has been that people expect a prompt start otherwise they get tired of waiting.

Hector arrives at 7:00 and is very surprised to see the small crowd. We still need to strategize logistics and see how the white surface is going to look on the pavement, which he will be performing and drawing on. I have Mark’s huge white photography paper and we lie that out in the street. Hector prefers the white fabric that he has brought with him. The plan we settle on is for him to go to Campo San Stefano, which is 3 minutes away then a few minutes later I ask the small crowd to go there – following the photographer Mark Edward Smith. Another friend helps with sound – she is playing a soundtrack using Bluetooth and Hector has a travel speaker clipped onto his costume. I wait at the galley in case more people arrive while they are gone. Four people choose to stay at the gallery. Six of seven more friends arrive and choose to also stay at the gallery. We wait and wait and begin to worry. Perhaps Hector has taken a wrong turn. Eventually – after about 30 minutes I hear the strange soundtrack and I go around the corner to see. Hector walks – very slowly towards the gallery with black dripping from his mouth. He has the full attention of the street and people have their telephones out filming fixated on the spectacle. When he finally arrives by the gallery he performs onto the fabric, which is set out in the street. Hector draws circles in a very ritualistic manner and the black charcoal that he crunches in his mouth drips. It seems at once Medieval and futuristic. his performances, as he describes them, mediate movement, endurance, and ritualistic processes.

As the strange music stops the sounds of the street were even stranger – a seagull and a baby crying – screeching in the sky above fits perfectly with the intense performance finale.

I give a speech, introducing Hector, his work and the festivals he puts on all over the world. I talk about the ideas behind the performance, which is called Somagraphika. He then explains further that the idea was to evoke and invoke the processes of creation from within, from the body and how this work connects with my exhibition.

I then say some thanks to Anita and others who helped and invite everybody to join us in drinking up the prosecco and celebrating the finissage.

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