New York Magazine’s Jerry Saltz went to the Venice Biennale a touch late, after the crowds had gone and the moveable party of the art world had since migrated North to Basel. Perhaps his reaction is a little like watching a comedy alone, the humor just doesn’t quite resonate. Whatever the reason, Saltz hates the work there and he’s not inclined to keep his mouth shut:
From there I saw as many of the pavilions as I could. My Worst in Show award was a three-way tie between Australia, Japan, and France. Australia’s Shaun Gladwell parked a burned-out Road Warrior–ish car outside the pavilion. Inside there’s a video of motorcycle rider stopping to contemplate a dead kangaroo in the middle of a desert. Protruding from the side of the pavilion is a motorcycle. In the Japanese pavilion, Miwa Yanagi exhibits a series of huge, god-awful photographs of grotesque naked women. In an accompanying text, a writer raves that these crappy pictures “will bring great joy not only to the Japanese Pavilion but to the Venice Biennale as a whole.” […]
France’s Claude Lévêque, who built a cruciform of four intersecting hallways painted with gold sparkle, edges those two out for sheer mindlessness. At the end of each of his hallways are prison bars and a black flag being blown by a fan. A text plaintively asks, “Are the black flags quivering in the distance the rising image of a radical hope of a possible other world?” No, they’re flags of surrender — the pavilion wants to kill itself for housing such bad art. I have four words for Lévêque: Get a job, dude.
Saltz: Highlights of the Venice Biennale; Plus, Worst in Show (New York Magazine)