Ignasi Aballí’s project for the Venice Art Biennale seeks to correct two errors: one having to do with space, the other with time. The first is in the Spanish Pavilion, which he rotates ten degrees to align it with the Belgian and Dutch Pavilions. The second correction begins with the handing out – as to the crew of The Hunting of the Snark – of “A perfect and absolute blank!” One where Venice is empty, stripped of streets and constructions, with just six reference points.
These random places – from kiosk to drugstore – propose an atypical exploration of the city, deviating from the frenzy of biennials and the hackneyed itineraries of mass tourism. Maybe Aballí, like Francesco Carero, believes in the city walk as a critical tool and aesthetic instrument, so he turns the visitor into a present-day flâneur, forcing him to stop and think. Along these new routes are trouvailles of six books which, together with the map, form a guide to the city’s less known parts.
These visual manifestos are a commentary on the pavilion intervention, and in themselves form a small exhibition on the oeuvre of Aballí, who in the course of the six guides – Horizons, Inventory, Almost, Stories, Panorama, and Landscape – deploys his characteristic semantic games involving lists, wordplays, news clippings, and chromatic catalogs to build his very own Venice. The Catalan artist habitually plays with contradictory concepts (absence/presence, immaterial/material, ephemeral/permanent) but here, in addition, he invites us to “lose our way in order to find ourselves.”