Chicago may be surrounded by cornfields and pig farms, but just because we’re landlocked doesn’t mean we don’t know what’s going on in the world. This summer, our writers fled the Midwest for the four corners of the globe, and shared their incredible journeys with us. On our website this summer, our writers reported on everything from the Venice Biennale to the emerging art scene in El Salvador in our newly launched Travel Section, or current student Mehri Khalil’s reflections on life and art in (post?)revolutionary Cairo in her “Letters from Egypt” column. Below are just a few highlights of what was happening around the world this summer.
By Jason Waite
In June, independent curator and guest writer Jason Waite reported on the ins and outs of the Venice Biennale.
Flying in from London on the early morning groggy-eye to Venice, it should have been obvious that this was not going to be a normal biennale. I, like most sane people, try to avoid these 6 a.m. flights, not so much for the inconvenience, but rather because Ryan Air seems hell bent on having you miss your flight (nota bene, if your passport is outside of the EU you have to have your passport “verified” [disinterestedly glanced at] by the ticket counter at least 40 minutes before takeoff, even if you are already checked in online). Inside the overly vibrant yellow cabin (which I am convinced was designed in consultation with psychologists from Guantanamo so it is impossible to sleep, and hence you are more likely to buy one of the many overpriced items constantly hawked in the aisle) filing into the plane at this unholy hour was a constant stream of blue blazers, a myriad of leather clutch weekend bags, and hip summer dresses. The art world was mobilizing en-masse.
My fellow fliers and I were just a few of the over 20,000 who flooded this resplendent island playground in June — augmenting the population of the city by roughly seven percent in the matter of a few days. As one longtime resident exclaimed while frustratedly navigating the packed lanes, “It’s like Carnival!” And, following in the footsteps of that Venetian tradition with secluded parties and lavish bacchanals, the 54th Venice Biennale had begun.