I have been in a reflective mood lately, torn between elation to be exhibiting in one of the most stunning locations in the world Venice, and what has been happening in my home town, London, and indeed anywhere else in the world.
This syringe sculpture has been on my mind and on the drawing board for some time but I have accelerated its release because I believe it transmits a message of hope in these challenging times.
Arriving in Venice last week, I was greeted by dark skies, rumbles of thunder and then rain….but wait a minute ! Who cares about the weather. I have been invited to exhibit my artwork at the preeminent cultural event in the most beautiful city in the whole world !
The Venice Biennale draws hundreds of thousands of art lovers and professionals from all over the world and I am going to be a part of this for the next 7 months, so I repeat, who cares about the weather.
After checking in to my apartment, I decided to head off to Palazzo Mora early to check that the lights did not reflect too much off the plexiglas cases. This palazzo is one of the three palazzi taken over by the European Cultural Centre for the Personal Structures group exhibition and also the Kiribati National Pavilion. Kiribati and Venice have similar environmental challenges…they are both sinking.
As I feared, the lights were too fierce but I felt churlish complaining that the great Hermann Nitsch’s blood paintings were vividly reflected on my artwork. This calls for tact and diplomacy.
I looked around at my other fellow artists and who should be behind my wall but none other than the great Jeff Koons…how blessed am I ! Nitsch’s blood and gore paintings, Anthony Moman’s syringe sculptures and Jeff Koon’s balloon dogs. Well this is the Venice Biennale,after all.
At 6pm there was a steady trickle of people arriving and by 6.30 it became a torrent as they arrived by the hundred. By 7pm with the Prosecco flowing, and trays of exquisite canapés passing me by, it was barely breathing room.
Many people did a double take as they realized that my shapes were formed not by led lights or ball bearings (now there’s an idea ) but real, fully armed syringes. The reactions were mixed from surprise, disgust – phobia for needles, to incredulous, but at least no one was complacent. That is what I had hoped for, to provoke a strong reaction amongst all this art.
To take the Kiribati motto : “Te Mauri, Te Raoi ao Te Tabomoa”
I guess my interest in skulls and syringes can be traced back to my childhood where family dinner conversations usually centred around my father’s daily experiences as a family practitioner. From the tender age of three I was aware of life, death and something vague in between.
I like to transform ugly, unloved materials into attractive and alluring objects without any structural interference.
Syringes are very symbolic, invoking a host of different emotional reactions, mostly negative. They can, however, alleviate pain, cure and protect against life threatening diseases and change the way we look and feel about ourselves. Our very existence can depend on one syringe and they deserve our respect and their place in the history of humanity.
I was invited to participate in the group exhibition Personal Structures hosted by the European Cultural Centre and organised by the GAA Foundation.
I was drawn to the exhibition’s title “PERSONAL STRUCTURES – open borders” which shows the commonness and differences between Europeans in dialogue with works of non-Europeans. In addition, the exhibition stimulates a more conscious relationship from the spectator towards his daily surrounding aiming to increase the awareness of their own personal Existence as human beings influenced by a specific Culture within Time and Space.
Here in pictures is the passage to Venice.
PERSONAL STRUCTURES – open borders
Palazzo Bembo, Palazzo Mora and Giardini Marinaressa
European Cultural Centre
Valeria Romagnini, Lucia Pedrana, Sara Danieli, Alesia Varnaeva, Bianca Bonaldi, Elena Volpato, Alessandra Valle, Anaïs Hammoud
13 May – 26 November 2017 (preview 11-12 May 2017)
Love Is The Drug (Green) 2017
Syringe on marine wood in plexiglas case
42 x 42 cm
I like a challenge. It takes you out of your comfort zone. I was asked to create a syringe sculpture using a client’s prototype syringes. The time frame was tight as I was busy preparing my work for the Venice Biennale. My first thought was to decline the offer but as I said I like being challenged.
This is the result. I think these syringes are stunning.