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Published 08/07/2003 email E-MAIL print PRINT

Absolutely vital for survival; or how vodka in Venice is 'absolutely' best paired with tonic

At the Palazzo Zenobio, an exhibition sponsored by the Swedish Vodka company Absolut, entitled 'Absolut Generations' (14 June-28 September 2003) with works by 13 artists, many of whom participated in Absolut's 1998 show. This new show links several pairs, one mentor and one 'young artist' together. A hazardous, perhaps rather painstakingly Swedish enterprise, one might say, playing the (lost) generation game. But in actuality, the installation by the famous Viennese architect-artist Hans Hollein, still for sure 'Alles ist Architektur' proves everything can be accommodated. So Enzo Cucchi chose to 'mentor' Andrea Salvino. Louise Bourgeois, whose strangled Absolut bottle somehow caught the parched feeling of those seeking complimentary refreshment without success, teamed up with Aspassio Haronitaki, who provides a welcome contrast, animals with humans, to the Australian pavilion. Hans Hollein teamed up with Viennese artist Lois Renner with great success. Renner had studied under Gerhard Richter. The results demonstrate the impossibility of photography where the reality is about both decorative effect and scale effect. The Absolut bottle looks as if it could freely lubricate half of Venice. This is 'Transformations' and the bottle is actually scaled up to accommodate a gondola, like those ships-in-bottles so skilfully erected by old seadogs. Béatrice Cussol, teamed with 'Ben', a friend of Absolut, whose motto is 'I drink to forget art', produces a lyrical combination of two bottles, seemingly transformed into lovers with elegant watercolour.

Linn Fernström seems to be the mandatory Swedish artist, teamed with Dan Wolgers. His sculpture derives from Duchamp for inspiration. He admires Fernström's messiness, and it is a complicity of opposites. Wim Delvoye and Delphine were quite the opposite. Delphine upsets Wim Delvoye because as a Belgian artist she lives in London, abandoning 'the Belgian art scene' (whatever that might be). She created at big chair for a tiny bottle. The concept of a model Elton John who ejects Absolut traces into a beer glass while farting harmoniously, the way Belgians do: the only problem, Elton doesn't and isn't. Veronika Bromova, by contrast, extends a longstanding Czech tradition of ironic parody, intricacy, a kind of lurking fatalism, as in 'Hello to All from the Trip to Venice' where a family is photographed playing innocently from a li-lo in the midst of a field. Absolut have brought this whole intelligent venture, which could have descended into a commercial banality, to witty and humorously proficient success. Now, where was that glass?



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