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Monday, June 15, 2009

Dream Team

Interactive art was all the rage at the 2009 Venice Art Biennale last week, and not just the marquee installations showing on the main strip at the Giardini. Set in a beautiful old palazzo off the beaten path was Ukraine's offering, titled The Steppes of Dreamers, where Ukrainian artist Ilya Chichkan collaborated with Japanese fashion designer Mihara Yasuhiro to produce a dreamlike setting, complete with a sand-filled entrance hall. (Not since Hussein Chalayan for Turkey last year has a fashion designer represented a country at the Biennale.)

Upstairs in the palazzo, a labyrinth of smoke-filled dark rooms lured one in with an interactive system of noises and half-human kinetic installations that moved or made sounds upon entry. Themes such as travel and consciousness were examined, looking at the past, present and future of the Eastern European landscape through various cinematic metaphors inspired by Ukrainian film director Kira Muratova. The installation was made all the more spooky by the palace's grand fireplaces, flock wallpaper and huge chandeliers with multi-colored bulbs. But stranger still, the piece was curated by Volodymyr Klitchko, Ukraine's world champion boxer!


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