Communicative sculpture that crosses all cultures

One of the aspects that set this year’s Venice Biennale apart from previous occasions was the inclusion of artists whose specialty lies outside the domain of the visual arts. Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami, Canadian Atom Egoyan, and Chantal Akerman, also film directors, all participated with video works at the Arsenale exhibit (the more experimental part of the Venice Biennale), their inclusion giving substance to Harald Szeemann’s (director of the Biennale for the second consecutive time) idea of bringing artists that work in different media together and showing the interrelationship between the arts. If the merging of film with the visual arts was only partly and indirectly expressed at the Biennale, in Open, an open-air sculpture exhibition which is currently on at the island of Lido off Venice, it is the event’s guiding principle. Intentionally made to coincide with Venice’s annual film festival, this annual international exhibit, whose artistic director is the famous art critic Pierre Restany (known for launching the Paris-based New Realist movement, the European equivalent of American pop art that emerged in the 1960s), also urges young filmmakers to make works that draw on the visual arts; for that reason it has instituted the Mimmo Rotella prize. The ways in which an artist becomes inspired by film or film making is not, of course, always visually evident. That is something that becomes apparent in the abstract sculpture of Katerina Apostolidou, the artist chosen by art historian Lina Tsikouta-Deimezis (also the Greek commissioner for this year’s Venice Biennale), to represent Greece in the event. Apostolidou, who trained as a painter under Nikos Kessanlis (former rector of the Athens School of Fine Arts and one of the first Greek artists to blend photography with painting), but who soon moved toward sculpture, has created a three-meter-high, site-specific work with a steel and metal frame, on which four organically shaped forms made of resin and honey are meant to evoke the idea of vessels made for votive offerings. Appropriately named Offerings 4, the work expresses the idea that offering in the broadest sense is an act that lies at the heart of communication. And since communication defines all arts (including film and the visual arts, which is what concerns us here) offering is also the essence of all forms of expression. The idea is also made to fit the theme that underlies this year’s exhibition. Under the title The Globalization of Cultures, the exhibition seeks those unifying themes that cut across cultural differences; Apostolidou’s idea of communication fits the purpose. Knowledge and consistency

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