Photo: Dirk Hoyer

The Vaporetto Parliament


“So this parliament of forms is a way to rediscuss the vitality, the necessity, the importance and the essentialness of art in our lives, in our common culture, at a time when historical and artistic objects have been destroyed.”

Okwui Enwezor

The line 2 Vaporetto is already filled in the morning. Asian teenagers discuss in Cantonese about the Piazza St. Marco. American pensioner couples start  what they perceive as jolly conversation about the most beautiful European cities. An old impeccably dressed Italian men seems to ignore that he lives in a tourist mecca and stares at the Canale. The Vaporetto swims like a piece of marble in jelly and comes dangerously close to hitting a huge cruise ship. The cruisers on the top deck look like small dots. Yachts, delivery boats, small motorboats, rowing boats are creating waves of different sizes on the Canale. Is there any interest in the  Biennale? The American pensioners are on a wedding anniversary trip and want to see the Rialto. The Asian teenagers are making selfies. I ask the men who sits next to me, a 30 something Italian with a big wristwatch and a friendly smile: “I work as a waiter. No time to go to the Arsenale or Giardini Pubblici. And I don’t like the art crowd. They laugh far too little.” In an unofficial Vaporetto poll it turns out that out of 35 participants only one will visit the 56th Biennale. A Danish woman with an orange Hermes bag. A boat with an advertisement for the Azerbaiani pavilion passes by.

Closer to Giudecca, where the Research Pavilion is situated, the Biennale posters and banners are becoming more and more scarce. The Vaporetto stop Palance is the exit. Silence, only the squeaking boat stops. Giudecca seems oblivious to the tourist invasion. No trace of the omnipresent sound of the rest of Venice: rolling suitcases. In a café a waitress is arguing loudly with her boyfriend. Dogs are sniffing at the garbage bags that are piled up next to the Canale. The Vaporetto leaves and the Asians and Americans continue their trip to the more obvious tourist destinations. The Danish woman with orange Hermes bag has to wait one more day before she can enter the Biennale world and get a glance at  Enwezor’s “All the World’s Futures”. That is if she is among the privileged who have an invitation to the previewing.  The waitress is arguing more and more loudly with her boyfriend. The dogs have moved on to the next pile of garbage bags. The next Vaporetto arrives. And suddenly the sound of a rolling suitcase brings the mainland straight to Giudecca.

Text & photo: Dirk Hoyer