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Tag Archives: Venice

Fitting a door into a carcass that isn’t perfectly square is a common task for cabinet makers, but it’s rare that the problem is as severe as this or on such a large scale. So I take my hat off to the Venetian joiners who installed these doors in a palazzo near the Church of Sant’ Alvise in the Cannaregio sestiere of Venice.

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This is the back way in to the Ca’ del Duca, a palace off the grand canal of Venice, begun in 1467 but never fully completed. The stylish way to get there is by water taxi but it’s quite as nice and a lot cheaper to walk, which is what I did to see Luxembourg’s exhibition at this year’s Venice Biennale – Le Cercle Fermé by Martine Feipel and Jean Bechameil.

Like most of what was being shown in the Biennale, it turned out to be an installation rather than a conventional exhibition but I have to admit that it provided a mildly amusing experience. You walked along corridors with undulating walls, got disorientated by halls of mirrors and nearly lost your balance navigating wonky floors. It was supposed to challenge our notions of stable constructed space and to make us look differently at the world when we leave. There are more photographs (and some pretentious artspeak) here.

Two of the rooms were especially interesting to furniture makers. Chairs and chests of drawers had been made to look as if wood had a melting point and they’d been left too close to the fire. They were still recognisably chairs or drawers, although obviously you couldn’t use them for sitting on or keeping things in. Indeed, part of the point was that they’d be completely useless for any practical purpose.

I shall leave you to decide whether this is a clever way of encouraging us to think in a fresh way about familiar objects or whether Feipel and Bechameil are just playing a prank.

There was however, a wonderful floor in one of the rooms. Not a wonky one to throw you off balance but a laid wooden floor that had been part of the Ca’ Del Duca in its days of glory. It hadn’t been looked after very well and my photograph isn’t very good but I couldn’t help thinking that it was rather more interesting (and enduring) than the chairs.

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