Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Venice - Post-Modern Art

One car, two trains, two busses, two planes, another bus and a boat. That is the net-net of traveling from Newport, Wales to Venice, Italy. After a week of introducing Credible Connections to employers in Belgium and the U.K., I find myself in one of the great cradles of human development where any year of more than three digits is considered modernity, not history.

But just as raw numbers do not tell the story of travel, nor do they reflect the reality of the old world which has become the new world even here, a world no longer painted by masters but whose history is now being made by retailers. Not that Venice has fallen into a long line of t-shirt shops lining these streets of water. No, nothing that crass. Rather, shopping has become the new art here and just as Peggy Guggenheim brought modern art from its bohemian wasteland to the high brow that once called Venice their playground so Chanel and Ferragamo and other dealers of high end gemcracks has brought Venice to its post-modern era.

Shopping as art? Could it be? Or is it a caricature of the age old experience of buying, a grotesque hyperbole of a prurient observer who has taken in way too many espressos in the past hours to deal with a jet lag that will not go silently into that good night?

It is hard to know which, but in this part of the world where anything can be art, and is often so nominated, why not shopping? As one walks the canals, one can almost see the Napoleonic wing on St. Mark's being built with the likes of Vuitton and Dolce and Gabana in mind, leaving room to punctuate the Byzantine Venetian Gothic architecture with shops of leathers as fine as baby skin and glass so pure as to make one wonder if it exists beyond one's imagination, and sufficient space for electronics, of course, because what is life without a titanium flask?

Venice is clearly what Disney had in mind but he could only pull it off in the cheesiest form. It is much more akin to Rodeo Drive on steroids.

This sounds of criticism, but it is mere observation. I know that with the right eye one can still see the beauty of a time before trinkets and sense a Venice when art was not a black AMEX card lying on a fine felt counter at Chanel but was rather the work of an unnamed unremembered craftsman who framed the mosaics of the Basilica.


Post a Comment

<< Home