One of the best things about the Venice Biennale is chancing upon innovative exhibitions in the old palaces. At these moments it is obvious that the artistic vibrancy that originally formed Venice is still alive. This was truly evident when viewing Catherine Lorent’s sound installation in the Biennale’s Luxembourg Pavilion.
“Relegation” is a delicate mix of highbrow and lowbrow culture, free improvisation and rigid concept. Electric guitars are suspended from the ceilings of several rooms; pianos sit in rooms with views to the Canal Grande; a row of speakers line a hallway. As patrons walk through the space they unknowingly trigger the instruments through an electro-magnetic control system. The pianos play minor chords which are combined with the drone of the guitars.
This was one of my favourite exhibitions in the Biennale. It appeared simple and discrete yet its effect was quite powerful. Looking through the windows of the old palace life continued to move along the canal, yet inside the exhibition space there was a serene, almost sacred stillness produced by the music. It was an amazing experience to stand in this ethereal atmosphere where haunting waves of sound drifted from room to room. “Relegation” was a perfect way to finish our time in Venice. Next stop, Estonia.