Sarah Wilson: Belgium's pavilion is a metaphor for Venice itself

One enters a dark gloomy space, the overhead light covered with sackcloth and ashes. A vast tree trunk (a knotted amalgam of trunks) fills the central space—limbs bound with rags.... I was looking for dead animals (it's Berlinde de Bruyckere after all), but no mice or even a beetle to be seen. The multipe wounded tree-trunk is a metaphor for Venice itself—plague-time Venice, its multiple Saint Sebastians, her inspiration become "all tree".

Berlinde De Bruyckere, Cripplewood, 2013

And where is the presence of J.M. Coetzee the curator? This is virtual curating, distance curating. Coetzee has never seen the work; his correspondance exchanged with the artist is in the catalogue of Kreupelhout, 2013 (Cripplewood): "Suddenly Venice reveals only its misfortunes, its vulnerability, its mortailty. One day its magnificence will darken beneath the waters".

Sarah Wilson is a professor at the Courtauld Institute, London

Published Fri, 31 May 2013 16:34:00 GMT

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