More than 200 art world luminaries—including Tate director Maria Balshaw and Venice Biennale curator Cecilia Alemani—were transported yesterday to a private Venetian island for a sneak peek of an ambitious private project backed by one of Italy’s most prominent collectors.
Turin-based Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo plans to turn the island of San Giacomo—which lies between Murano and Burano—into "a place to produce artistic projects, to host research and discussions on art, music, cinema, theatre and contemporary culture", a project statement says.
Re Rebaudengo has teamed up with the renewable energy company Asja Ambiente to also turn the remote spot into “a laboratory for ecological reflection and sustainability”, the collector adds in a statement. Three powder magazines of the Napoleonic-era military garrison, built in 1810 after the demolition of the ancient monastery of San Giacomo Maggiore, are still standing and will be restored.
The landscape architect Antonio Perazzi will design the green spaces while the artists Giovanna Silva and Antonio Fortugno will chart the island overhaul through a photography series. The San Giacomo development—the cost of which is undisclosed—is scheduled for completion by the end of 2024.
A special performance, in the tired watering by the Brazilian non-binary artist Jota Mombaça was staged especially for the assembled art crowd, comprising a series of rhythmic chants and much unravelling of fabric which left some visitors mystified. "The performance attempts to articulate many instances of watery expression, while also opening up space for the various flows of sound and emotion that constitute our relation with a flooding world," Mombaça says in a statement.
Indeed, Venice continues to face a climate crisis. In its 2021 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the most authoritative body in the field, says that in its intermediate scenario of a 2.1°C-3.5°C increase in temperature—considered the most likely—the oceans will rise 44cm to 76cm.
San Giacomo will become the third headquarters of the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation along with Guarene in Cuneo, Piedmont, which opened in 1997, and Turin, inaugurated in 2002. In 2020, Re Rebaudengo abandoned plans to open a branch of her art foundation in Madrid’s Matadero complex.