Venezia Contemporanea Residency

Recently spent two weeks in October 2023 at La Storta Exhibition and Project Space in Venice for an artist residency. Worked on a project I began in Australia two years ago called a w a s h, best described as a large-scale, mixed media assemblage that exhibits the recent and severe coastal erosion of the Eastern Australian, Newcastle coastline during and after the 2022 floods. The assemblage includes three components – still image, video and sound produced from experiential (empirical), location based material gathered onsite at the Newcastle Beach coastline and in a health facility in Pokolbin. Additional text and media can be found on the a w a s h webpage.

Solange and I arrived from the airport by ferry to the Ponte delle Guglie, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy and walked through the gates to the entrance of the old Jewish ghetto to the residency space where we would live and work for the next 14 days. We were greeted by Alon who gave us a quick tour and handed us the keys. We later met his partner Mikhail and discovered that they were both visual artists who ran two gallery spaces next door and across the courtyard. They also had two cats, one of which we became very friendly with.

This was our landing in Venice ….

And this is the gate we walked through to get to the residency space ….

Which had a rising tide a few days later …

The rising tide happened a few times while we were and all the the vendors, cafes, restaurants and small businesses on the canals are constantly affected by it with their passing tourist trade cut off (unless they are wise to it and have gum boots or protective plastic). Venice is using water Technology called the MOSE Project to try and alleviate this. MOSE, the Italian word for Moses, is an acronym for Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico, which means Experimental Electromechanical Module. The name aptly alludes to the story of Moses parting the Red Sea.The project will prevent flooding through the installation of 78 mobile gates at three inlets, namely Lido, Malamocco and Chioggia, which will separate the Venetian Lagoon from the Adriatic Sea.

Once we’d settled into the space I unpacked the three canvas rolls I’d prepared to work on and set myself up in the front working and exhibition area. I was also able to project video onto one of the old brick walls, which wasn’t ideal but they were too damp to attach anything to.

The artist at work …

The view from outside the studio at night …

If you follow the road around this corner you walk into the Venetian Ghetto. For a touch of Venetian history, in 1555, Venice had 160,208 inhabitants, including 923 Jews, who were mainly merchants. The Venetian Ghetto was the area of Venice in which Jews were forced to live by the government of the Venetian Republic. Here we are now in 2023 embroiled in an Israel-Hamas, Israel-Gaza war with daily news coverage in The Guardian and Al Jazeera. A very obvious police presence is in the streets, two guards at a time with sub machine guns hanging by their sides. The Jewish artists who run this residency are friendly but clearly stressed. We are just getting on with our lives.

Venezia Contemporanea Residency