Venetian Bind

24 Australian artists and researchers are heading to Venice in 2024 to develop place-responsive public art over six months, exploring ideas around the commons, public health and climate responsive environments.

Dean De Landre
Hayley Elliot-Ryan
Simon Grennan
Donna McRae
Kate Hunter
Katie Lee
Luigi Vescio
Annette Wagner
Victoria Duckett
Olivia Millard
Emily Potter
Katy Morrison
Tania Blackwell
Dan Koop
Sean Loughrey
Rebecca Gerrett-Magee
Merophie Carr
Luke Heemsbergen
Stephen Hennesy
Annie Wilson
Briony Kidd
Tonya Meyrick
Martin Potter
Curated by
Cameron Bishop
David Cross
Palazzo Mora, Venice (IT)

Venetian Bind is a place-responsive public art project unfolding iteratively over the six months of Personal Structures. This initiative deploys a variety of novel methods using art in subtle, activist and collaborative ways in public space to explore ideas around the commons, public health and climate responsive environments.

The artworks in this space are produced in response to six binds, rituals and workshops, devised and selected by the curators, that collectively explore the tensions between the efficacy of place-responsive and gallery-based practices in contemporary art. Unfolding a methodology of four parts, this project seeks to employ emergent curatorial thinking in temporary public artwork to mesh experimental art making with the accumulation of new skills, straddling technique, participatory engagement and a deeper understanding of environment and its assorted transitions. These four modes - ritual, encounter, provocation (or bind) and workshop - offer, this exhibition suggests, a composite method whereby the artist can be simultaneously provocateur, collaborator, student and maker of place-responsive experiences. Venice in these terms becomes a dynamic laboratory of communities, histories and technologies, rather than operating in its default setting as an exotic backdrop to display artwork.

Devised by Melbourne/Naarm-based curators and Deakin University researchers Cameron Bishop and David Cross, in collaboration with the European Cultural Centre in Venice, they have assembled a team of 24 Australian artists in six teams – researchers and PhD candidates across a diverse range of disciplines, each scheduled to arrive and make work at different times over the six months of the Biennale. The project distinguishes itself through its place-responsiveness, and its material and temporal constraints, engaging directly with the environmental and socio-cultural fabric of Venice – a city at the frontline of climate change and its implications.

In devising experiences and contexts in sites often overlooked or considered peripheral to the usual political, or economic business of the city, the curators have sought to illuminate and extend our understanding of Venice as a complex eco-system formed and reformed over millennia. Informed by Harney and Desideri’s far reaching 2013 essay on curatorial practice, A Conspiracy without a Plot, and specifically their idea of ‘the undercommons’, as a critical ‘practice of space and time that does not conform to the space and time of sovereign, self-possessed individuals or the states they plot, Venetian Bind seeks to understanding how ideas of publicness’ and our understanding of Venice can be remade. Following Bifo Berardi’s contention that we have shifted in the age of semio-captalism from conjunction to connection as the dominant mode of social interaction, this exhibition asks how might public art projects such as Venetian bind employ in Berradi’s words ‘sensibility as the faculty that makes it possible to find a path that does not yet exist’.

In seeking to build new understandings of both Venice and temporary public art as critical operations mediated by what Slavoj Zizek calls ‘event culture’, Venetian Bind asks four specific questions. How might new curatorial approaches to public art make trouble for the idea of Venice as a neutral, if architecturally rich, art gallery? How can a public art project expand our understanding of Venice as a complex constellation of places, people and ecologies across the lagoon, and not simply understood as a winding pathway between San Marco and Rialto Bridge? In what ways can constraint operate in curatorial thinking as a productive mechanism by which ideas of water, both in scarcity and abundance, might be understood anew. And how can cross-disciplinary art practices developed in collaborative groups, expand our understanding of the sometimes-nebulous category of public art?

- Professor David Cross and Associate Professor Cameron Bishop, Public Art Commission, Deakin University.

Program dates: 18 April - 24 November 2024