Collapses: The Venice Biennale and the End of History | Art Practical

Collapses: The Venice Biennale and the End of History

The 2019 Venice Biennale feels like the end of everything: the end of art tourism, the end of vacations, the end of the beach and the climate of pleasure. With bad news about the climate crisis worsening every day, the nationalistic turn of governments from the U.S. to Britain to Italy to India and Brazil, it’s unclear whether the liberal ideology that produces world-scale cultural events like the Biennale can hold much longer, or whether the economic or ecological structures of global tourism can continue to support it. The liberal democratic order of free markets and free will is undermined around the globe by violent nationalism and economic protectionism. The Biennale exhibition, May You Live in Interesting Times, offers little but a hollow scream in opposition. The whole thing feels a bit like buyer’s remorse, a magnum opus from a lapsed believer in Francis Fukuyama’s promise that we’d reached the End of History.1

Arthur Jafa

Joint Italy-EU military vessel with helicopter, Piraeus Port, Greece, August 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

Both the main exhibitions and the various national pavilions feature more women and artists of color this year than any previous. Diversity is manifest with respect to types of work, interests, materials, biographies, and ages of the artists on view. Curator Ralph Rugoff states that “[the artists’] work grows out of a practice of entertaining multiple perspectives: of holding in mind seemingly contradictory notions, and juggling diverse ways of making sense of the world.”2 Diversity and multiplicity appear here to be set up as counternarratives to universalism, the ideology that has historically governed the international contemporary art discourse. But is this in fact the case? Fukuyama says, “The spectacular abundance of advanced liberal economies and the infinitely diverse consumer culture made possible by them seem to both foster and preserve liberalism in the political sphere.” If, as Fukuyama suggests, there are  “fundamental ‘contradictions’ of human life that cannot be resolved in the context of modern liberalism, that would be resolvable by an alternative political-economic structure,”3 diversity is not one of those contradictions. Rather, pluralism reinforces the “common ideological heritage of mankind,”4 while fascism’s resurgence around the globe and the popular embrace of nationalist identity are more of a contradiction in light of the realities of international markets. This is the turn of events that market utopians like Fukuyama failed to anticipate.

Rugoff never comes off as a utopian, given his pervasive air of weary detachment. Rather, the exhibition transmits how it feels to watch the ascent of Donald Trump and the unfolding catastrophe of Brexit from the “all-knowing,” cool remove of the contemporary art insider—omniscient, yet impotent, and unable to divest from toxic habits. George Condo, Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, Christian Marclay, and Arthur Jafa channel an anxiety bordering on panic. Construction, shipping, air travel, commerce, monuments, the body, gender—all once fixed as concepts in the Western imagination, with clearly associated positive values, are now invoked by artists such as Yin Xiuzhen, Nicole Eisenman, Slavs and Tatars, and Martine Gutierrez as hazardous, unstable, and volatile. Nowhere is this instability more evident than in the work of Mari Katayama, a Japanese artist whose self-portraiture tableaus tease the boundary between agency and objectification. These artists, more than the comparably straightforward representation advanced by artists like Zanele Muholi, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, or Gauri Gill, capture the zeitgeist of not just the show but the present time. Our historical moment is monumentally catastrophic, and the usual serious response to extremism doesn’t seem to be working. Instead, the images range from abject to absurd.

astronaut

Indios antropófagos: A Butterfly Garden in the (Urban) Jungle. Peru Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

Especially relevant are the artists who toy with the fetishization of Indigenous bodies and cultures for Western consumption. Within the main exhibition curated by Rugoff, Gutierrez situates her U.S.-born Latinx, trans body within a series of photographic landscapes, Body in Thrall, that challenge touristic notions of indigeneity, cultural authenticity, and romanticized poverty around non-white people. She occupies diverse personas, from a film noir femme fatale to the terrifying Aztec deity Tlazolteotl, “Eater of Filth,” always negotiating the high fashion aesthetics of desire with a subversive decolonial aggression. Similar themes and tactics appear in Indios antropófagos in the Peruvian Pavilion, curated by Gustavo Buntinx, in which historical artifacts from the Spanish colonial era and large mosaic tile works by Christian Bendayán depicting frolicking Indigenous youth come together in a scathing critique of cultural tourism. In the French Pavilion, curated by Martha Kirszenbaum, artist Laure Prouvost references the oceans and the sea life projected to die out by 2048, only 29 years into the future, with a number of glass animals seemingly cast into the sea floor, strewn across a landscape of refuse and discarded technologies.

Back in the real world, there’s no way to excise or sequester the beautiful parts into a future that can outlast the very real catastrophes happening now. The overwhelmingly urgent need for a complete lifestyle change played in my head over the week following my visit to the Biennale, as I recuperated from a difficult personal and professional year on a seven-day Greek Islands cruise with my young children, partner, and parents. Looking over the waters where thousands of migrants have drowned, from the top deck of a massive, yet outdated, luxury vessel, I considered how the looming climate crisis creates a condition of simultaneous enjoyment of the modern world that is all around us, and a mourning for its obvious and inevitable loss. Is this the end of curating? The traditional role of the curator as guardian of the world’s collected treasures seems as irrelevant as the contemporary job of mounting resource-heavy exhibitions for an international crowd of jet-setters. Conceptualism has begun to rot from the head, as when Rugoff controversially chose to include Christoph Büchel’s installation of a salvaged boat that, in 2015, sank in the Mediterranean with more than 800 people aboard. I reflected on this watery tomb, recommissioned as a tourist attraction, while looking out across Piraeus port. In the distance, a military troop (jointly operated by Italy and the European Union) performed exercises atop a warship in a city where anti-immigrant attacks are on the rise. In the seventeenth century, the Venetians gained and lost control of Athens in a rivalry with the Ottomans. Today, it seems the EU’s primary objective in the Mediterranean is to sever thousands of years of interconnection between these three regions. Two years ago, the regenerative promise of art as a universal cultural good was undermined when documenta 14 recreated the financial dynamics of German austerity policies in Athens, Greece afresh. Debts went unpaid, workers uncompensated, all in the name of “fiscal responsibility” that nearly shuttered the sixty-year-old event for good. What better outcome ought we to expect this year from an art event born out of universal nationalism?

Christine Wertheim

Halil Altindere, Space Refugee, 2016. May You Live in Interesting Times, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

An explicitly utopian impulse is fugitive in May You Live in Interesting Times, but it manifests in the intersection of art, science, and technology. Margaret and Christine Wertheim’s Crochet Coral Reef raises awareness about preservation of the oceans through a crowdsourcing practice that combines mathematical learning with environmentalism and craft. Tavares Strachan’s meditation on African American astronaut Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr., locates metaphysical discourse about the afterlife within a scientific conversation about space travel—where elsewhere Halil Altindere complicates this view with the tale of Syrian cosmonaut Muhammed Ahmed Faris and his persecution by the state. Ryoji Ikeda bathes us in cleansing white light and describes a massive, thunderous universe of data that takes breathtaking shape before our eyes. Hito Steyerl’s This is the Future is a post-internet pastorale in which computer vision is applied to the Venetian landscape to depict a state of perpetual, dreamlike futurity in which the present persistently refuses to resolve into view. The protagonist of Steyerl’s installation seeks out a garden that she had previously hidden in the future in order to protect it from the ravages of the present.

The song of the Lithuanian Pavilion Sun & Sea (Marina) still rings in my ears:

“When my body dies, I will remain,
In an empty planet without birds, animals and corals.
Yet with the press of a single button,
I will remake this world again”

The finale of Sun & Sea (Marina) details the 3D printing of facsimiles of species in widespread collapse, taking comfort in their simulated resurrection as one would in the cold rays of a dying sun.

Greek Islands

Sun & Sea (Marina), Lithuanian Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

The gentle tenor of the apocalyptic visions in Sun & Sea (Marina) perfectly encapsulates the feeling of living at the outside edge of the story of the human species on planet Earth, with the knowledge that history as we know it may well be about to end because our species is one of millions undergoing collapse. The emptiness of our endeavors is invoked by Shilpa Gupta, whose wildly swinging metal gate hammers an effigy of national borders into a gallery wall. Otobong Nkanga’s drawings in acrylic on crayon reference the mechanical, industrialized nature of exploitation in the 21st century. Unlike the bees, whose society is organized around abundance, we humans have engineered systems to maximize our suffering. If humankind can truly lay claim to a common ideological heritage, as Fukuyama once argued, we have only ourselves to blame for our impending end.

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Gang members In Brazil Escape Death By Turning To Jesus Christ

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As the sound of gunshots grew closer, Janderson Viera knew that the rival gang that had taken over his neighborhood was coming for him.

Running to his bedroom, he called the only lifeline he had left: the Rev. Arnaldo Barros.

“I want to convert,” he said.

As gang wars drive Brazil’s homicide rate to historic highs, evangelical pastors — long revered in the nation’s slums and prisons — have come up with a new way to protect members looking for a way out.

Gang leaders say the only way to leave the business alive is to convert to Christianity. So Barros, a televangelist popular here in western Brazil, memorializes a gang member’s embrace of the ancient articles of faith using the most modern of tools: He records the conversion on his smartphone and posts the videos on YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp. The converts gain immunity against retribution by rival gangs and their own.

Gang leaders and law enforcement officials say it works.

“We aren’t going to go against the will of God,” a local leader of the powerful Comando Vermelho, the gang that was pursuing Viera, told The Washington Post. “God comes first, above everything.”

“It’s become a nonviolent escape route,” agreed Lucas Gomes, the head of prisons here in Acre state. “A way to publicize, justify and explain the exit.”

Barros, meanwhile, keeps close watch on each new Christian to make sure the conversion sticks.

If it doesn’t, he lets the gangs know.

Gang violence has made Brazil one of the most dangerous countries in Latin America — killings nationwide reached a record 64,000 in 2017, and the death toll remains high.

The carnage, and the sense that the government wasn’t doing enough to stop it, helped right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro get elected as president last year. The former military officer campaigned on promises to loosen gun ownership laws for private citizens and to give police more authority to shoot suspects.

That pitch resonated in Acre, where Bolsonaro won 77 percent of the vote, more than in any other state. The sparsely populated western state, wedged between Peru and Bolivia, is so often neglected by the federal government that Brazilians joke it doesn’t exist. But for the narcotrafficking gangs battling for control of Brazil’s profitable cocaine route, it has become hotly disputed turf.

The carnage, and the sense that the government wasn’t doing enough to stop it, helped right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro get elected as president last year. The former military officer campaigned on promises to loosen gun ownership laws for private citizens and to give police more authority to shoot suspects.

That pitch resonated in Acre, where Bolsonaro won 77 percent of the vote, more than in any other state. The sparsely populated western state, wedged between Peru and Bolivia, is so often neglected by the federal government that Brazilians joke it doesn’t exist. But for the narcotrafficking gangs battling for control of Brazil’s profitable cocaine route, it has become hotly disputed turf.

The gang wars have transformed sleepy Rio Branco, a ­jungle-covered town of ramshackle houses and polluted canals, into one of Brazil’s most violent cities. The homicide rate in Acre’s capital rose to 64 per 100,000 in 2017, double that of the rest of the country.

Read The Rest f This Post On Washington Post

The post Gang members In Brazil Escape Death By Turning To Jesus Christ appeared first on Believers Portal.

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Catholic church to approve ordination of married men

Catholic bishops approved a proposal Saturday allowing some married men to be ordained as priests in the Amazon region.

The proposal, which must be approved by Pope Francis, would be a historic change to the church’s centuries-old tradition of unmarried priests.

It passed by a vote of 128-41 and applies only to some churches in the Amazon region that are experiencing a shortage of priests.

The region includes parts of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.

The proposal, known as “viri probati,” refers to older Catholic men, who have stable families, are respected in their communities and who are already ordained as deacons in the church.

Allowing married men to become priests is not the same thing as allowing priests to marry, so the change would not affect the rule of celibacy for Catholic priests, who are not allowed to marry.

Pope Francis must approve the proposal for it go into effect, something he said he hopes to respond to by the end of the year. The pope has previously stated he was open to studying the possibility of allowing married men to be ordained.

Although the Catholic Church currently only ordains unmarried men to the priesthood, some converts, from Anglicanism for example, can become Catholic priests even if they are already married.

The proposal to ordain married men was one of the most contentious recommendations voted on Saturday evening at the conclusion of a three-week long meeting at the Vatican to discuss environmental and religious issues affecting the Amazon region.

The Vatican invited 184 bishops and priest from the Amazon region and around the world for the special meeting known as a synod. Thirty-five women, mostly religious sisters and nuns, were invited but did not have voting rights.

Another proposal recommended continuing to study the possibility of ordaining women as deacons.

A commission set up by Francis in 2016 did not result in any conclusive recommendations.

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American gold medalist kneels during national anthem at the Pan Am Games

American gold medalist kneels during national anthem at the Pan Am Games - CNN

(CNN)American gold medalist fencer Race Imboden knelt as the national anthem played Friday at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, to protest racism, gun control, mistreatment of immigrants and President Donald Trump.

“I chose to (sacrifice) my moment today at the top of the podium to call attention to issues that I believe need to be addressed. I encourage others to please use your platforms for empowerment and change,” he said.
Imboden, 26, was ranked as the world’s second-best in the foil event, and won a bronze medal in the men’s individual foil on Tuesday. On Friday, he helped the US win gold in the men’s foil team event, and then took a knee on the podium as the Star Spangled Banner played.
    As Imboden knelt, his teammates Gerek Meinhardt and Nick Itkin stood tall. Several members of the silver medalist Brazilian team saluted and Canada’s bronze-winning team stood quietly.
    Taking a knee during the national anthem became a form of civil protest after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee throughout the 2016 football season in protest of police brutality and injustice against people of color. Since then, many athletes, from NFL players, to soccer star Megan Rapinoe to amateur high schoolers have knelt as a form of protest, sparking anger from Trump and others.
    Imboden was not the only American to protest during the anthem at the Pan American Games. Gwen Berry took gold in the women’s hammer throw competition on Saturday, and she raised her fist in the air at the end of the national anthem in protest.
    news
    “Somebody has to stand for all of the injustices that are going on in America and a president who’s making it worse,” she told USA Today on Saturday night. “It’s too important to not say something.”
    Both could face disciplinary action, as all participants signed agreements not to make any political, religious, or racial remarks during the Games.
      US Olympic and Paralympic Committee spokesman Mark Jones said in a statement to CNN Sports that “every athlete competing at the 2019 Pan American Games commits to terms of eligibility, including to refrain from demonstrations that are political in nature. In these cases, the athletes didn’t adhere to the commitment they made to the organizing committee and the USOPC.”
      “We respect their rights to express their viewpoints, but we are disappointed that they chose not to honor their commitment. Our leadership are reviewing what consequences may result,” Jones said.

      Read more: http://edition.cnn.com/

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