Venetian Blind was an art project featuring 23 Australian and New Zealand artists. Developed by Public Art Commission at Deakin University and curated by Cameron Bishop and David Cross, this hybrid exhibition/public art event saw six projects commissioned (one per month) over the duration of the European Cultural Centre’s Personal Structures exhibition from 8 May until 24 November 2019, in conjuction with the 58th Venice Biennale.
The project title is a word play on the famous Venetian architectural invention, but in this instance refers to artists entering a project without any foreknowledge as to what the specific artistic brief will be. Venetian Blind prefaced the importance of site-based research, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and a compressed temporal register as productive constraints in the making of public art works and their documentation and location in the Palazzo Bembo.
Each project was produced by a team of artists who worked collaboratively in situ in Venice, responding to one of six provocations. These provocations engaged with a unique aspect of Venetian history and focused on specific locations across the city, inviting teams to make a site-based or performative intervention into the city of Venice.
For Venetian Blind, the curators offered six highly specific briefs that spoke to a different theme in contexts salient to the city’s history. While seeking to activate and respond to the meta-narratives of class, sexuality, colonialism, race, globalization, and political structures, the curators seek to frame these larger themes through specific stories, people and places. The project established a critical accord between the great narratives of Venice and its constituent, potentially little-known parts. By researching and revealing its infrastructures, icons, stories and even peccadiloes, these six public art projects explored hidden aspects of the city and their resonance with the human condition, our personal structures.