Lucinda Bredin: Too much intimacy at the Czech and Slovak pavilion

What it looks like: a series of seemingly disconnected displays. A long museum case of African masks and tribal objects, a wall filled with framed photographs of pigeons, a case of shells, a collection of large framed prints that have collapsed like a set of dominoes. Apparently there’s also film, but that wasn’t up and running when I visited. One of the artists, Petra Feriancova, says that the piece is a “return to intimate history”. Her pictures of ‘Venice-appropriate’ images: pigeons, shells, and, er, masks (albeit from a different continent) turn out to be a nod to Venice – she wants to “reflect the cultural-historical and psychological importance of Venice” which she feels has been “sidelined by self-centred gestures of artists at the Biennale”.

According to Ruskin, from An Order of Things, II, 2013. Courtesy of Petra Feriancova

But bafflingly, it transpires these are personal collections with no connection to Venice at all. The masks were assembled over many years by her father, who never left Czechoslovakia. The pigeon pictures were found in the attic. Feriancova’s main concern seems to be with hierarchy of objects. None of the pictures on the wall must be allowed to be more important than the other, as all convey some sort of memory. As she explained to me, “when you have a pile of t-shirts, you put one of them on top. However, that isn’t necessarily the most important one.” Well, it’s a point. But a whole national pavilion given over to your random holiday snaps? If anything, it made me think that there is something to the fetish for de-cluttering. You can walk on by…

Almost Venice, from An Order of Things, II, 2013. Courtesy of Petra Feriancova

Published Thu, 30 May 2013 16:44:00 GMT

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