Venezia/Venezuela: a project for Artforum by Meyer Vaisman.
Vaisman's piece didn't quite fit the Biennale's theme, but that's not a requirement for the national pavilions. More to the point, the project clashed with the agenda of Venezuela's Consejo Nacional de la Cultural (CONAC), the body that had voted to elect Vaisman the country's representative in Venice. The committee insisted Vaisman abandon his plans and offer an alternative proposal more befitting the dignity of an international exposition. When he refused to be censored, CONAC called for a repeat election by a newly formed committee, a political maneuver that prompted Vaisman to withdraw from the Biennale entirely.
It is a paradox of contemporary Venezuelan art that it serves as a reflection of "Venezuela Saudita" - the slang term adopted by the country's intelligentsia to characterize the cash-rich atmosphere that existed at the time of the nationalization of the oil industry here in 1974. In this the condition of art resembles that of the nation as a whole - a resemblance that may in fact be the only thing it shares with the rest of the country, for there has been a divorce in Venezuela between reality and artistic practice, a separation sustained in the name of rather dubious humanistic intentions. It is also paradoxical that this project of Vaisman's, so maligned by pious censors who agree on its eccentricity in relation to their sense of the national narrative, is perhaps the first Venezuelan art to articulate so many intersections of this country's hybrid, "transcultural" culture.
Transculturalization in reverse: so Vaisman has described his project, in which his and his country's history are intertwined in a comedy of ambiguities that, in his hands, interrupts the circularity of those investigations of identity in which universals and radical difference are forced into false coincidence.
Jesus Fuenmayor is a writer and curator based in Caracas.
Translated from the Spanish by Vincent T. Martin.
Verde por fuera, roja por dentro (Green outside, red inside), previously exhibited at the Galeria de Arte Nacional, Caracas, Venezuela, in 1993
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|Date:||Jun 22, 1995|
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