Using Venice to Save Venice


What would the Venice Biennale be without Venice? A group of prominent artists have joined an effort to save the sinking city that has produced, inspired and promoted creative types since the 15th century.

The non-profit organization Venice in Peril has organized a fundraising campaign in which 14 artists were asked to photograph the city for an exhibition called “Real Venice,” which is part of the official Biennale program. Works by Lynne Cohen, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Antonio Girbés, Nan Goldin, Pierre Gonnord, Dionisio Gonzalez, Candida Höfer, Tiina Itkonen, Mimmo Jodice, Tim Parchikov, Matthias Schaller, Jules Spinatsch, Robert Walker and Hiroshi Watanabe will be on view at the Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore. The show, which opens to the public on June 4 (previews begin May 31), will be accompanied by a catalogue published by Ivorypress.

Venice in Peril was created after the great flood of 1966. Over the years, it has distributed millions of dollars for the restoration of monuments, buildings and works of art. Venice—aka the City of Canals or the Floating City—occupies some 117 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon. One of the organization’s primary concerns is the city’s lack of a long-term plan to fight the rising waters, which flood the city on an annual basis.

After the exhibition’s closing on Sept. 30 (the Biennale runs through Nov. 27), a number of the works will be on view for two weeks at Phillips de Pury in London, where they’ll go up on the auction block in November. Other works will be sold privately or through the artists’ dealers, with the proceeds going to Venice in Peril.  “Real Venice” will also become a Barbican traveling exhibition, appearing at international venues from January 2012 to January 2013.

The advisory board for the project includes Anna Somers Cocks, chairman of Venice in Peril, along with Elena Foster, founder and editor of The Art Newspaper, and founder and CEO of Ivorypress, David Landau, who also curated the exhibition.