“Sweet Death”, Guatemala’s Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

©Laura di Stefano, 2015
©Laura di Stefano, 2015

The decadence of contemporary society in its different expressions hits you straight to the heart from the very first sculpture in Guatemala’s Biennale pavilion “Sweet death” curated by Daniele Radini Tedeschi. “The dream of Italians” representing the corpse of Berlusconi created by Garullo&Ottocento with an expression of bliss in a coffin of clear glass, like a sort of Snow White ready to wake up in any moment, is creating a contrast between the alleged sanctity of this man and the undeniable truth of Italian politics decadence. The death decadence in Italy is affecting also the cinema industry, represented by the sculpture dedicated to Luchino Visconti and its Death in Venice in remembrance of an old and lost elegance of Italian cinematographic production.
The most dramatic section of the exposition is that dedicated to the works of Guatemalan artists. Of particular interest is the disquieting sculpture without a face created by Mariadolores Castellanos, called Testiculos qui non habet, Papa Esse non posset (i.e. One cannot be pope without testicles) and showing the emblematic and mythic figure of the female pope Joan, symbol heresy and weakness of a religious belief governed for centuries only by men.
Decadence and death are that showed by the representation of a distorted and lost childhood in which Disney characters, Barbie and Dolls assume a negative meaning. Of great impact is the giant and black skull created by Sabrina Bertolelli dominating the room of Memento Mori and Vanitas, which is followed by the last exhibition focused on the culinary death. The artists of the group “La Grande Bouffe” mock new cooking trends, such as the molecular cuisine. One of the main work is that proposed by Luigi Citatella and showing a child in front of a skinny dish symbol of an impressive food gap between countries like Guatemala and Italy.
The exhibition is a remarkable expression of contemporary society. The artists captured not only the essence of the decadence affecting different environments of our society but expressed this slow and inexorable death with irony captivating the visitor from the first moment.

Laura di Stefano


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