Venice Biennale – Three Invasions, 2013

‘Venice Agendas’ at the Venice Biennale, Italy


The Biennale occupies Venice over six months in order to promote a global culture of art led by national representatives. As this city that was built to withstand siege is taken over by more than 300,000 art-visitors (into an area with under 50,000 residents), could this be considered an invasion of sorts?

I explored this notion through the medium of a series of public performances. According to ‘Invasion Theory’ there are three stages for a successful invasion: infiltration, conflict and pacification, and my performances along the waterfront between the Venice Biennale at Giardini and the Columns at the Molo, drew from these three theoretical stages for material.
Each stage was presented separately over three consecutive days:

1. ‘Venetian Door’ (Infiltration)
Carrying an old door, I negotiated my way for two miles through the crowded streets and Piazzas during the opening week of the Venice Biennale.

2. ‘Leaflet Wars’ (Conflict)
Many of the Pavilions at the Venice Biennale employ leaflet distributors to attract the crowds. In this piece I staged a ‘leafleting war’ with a doppelganger distributor (Tony Grisoni). As the first distributor persuaded people to accept a leaflet, the second, positioned 10 metres behind and dressed exactly identical, attempted to snatch it back.

3. ‘Still Standing’ (Pacification)
Standing forlornly in the middle of a pedestrian café area, I held up a sign saying ‘Still Standing’. The letters of this wording were formed by small lights that were fading as the battery life ran out over the course of several hours.