Event > Jimmie Durham. Venice: Objects, Work and Tourism

JIMMIE DURHAM. VENICE: OBJECTS, WORK AND TOURISM A project about Venice and his complexity: tourism, social imaginary, labor, handmade objects.

A search based on the significance of materials, on the experience and the

techniques of ancient works from the tradition of Venice, breaking

the rules of tourist and trade development. 
Venezia, gli oggetti, il lavoro e il turismo is the title of Jimmie Durham’s exhibition at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia.

In 2012 Jimmie Durham was invited by the Querini Stampalia to take part in a project about Venice, which is presently exhibited in Carlo Scarpa’s spaces and in the Museum through a site-specific installation showing new objects formed by unexpected combinations.

The fulcrum of his project is that nowadays culture is only a substance that revolves around objects. We are all tourists and we behave as such by constantly looking for and desiring different things.

Under the pressure of tourism, we have seen Venice decay and increasingly become the ghost of its former self. Venice is fragile and here the damage of tourism can be seen more clearly. We have seen its slow disappearance: the disappearance of its inhabitants, its functions, its shops and stores, its beauty, its capability…its essence.

Tourism always causes damage. Wherever it passes it denatures, flattens and destroys – like a lawnmower that cuts anything rooted and sprouting in that place. This is because it procures money without effort, because it does not require an answer that is high-minded, cultured, careful or original. It undermines the relationship between the object’s functionality and intelligence and the function it produces.

In this way the objects merely become souvenirs, emptied of their original functions, but this does not mean they stop having a value.

In Venezia, gli oggetti, il lavoro e il turismo there is the predominant idea of the usual artistic practice of Durham: that of letting the very essence of the object tell its own story. Glass, gold, marble and Istrian stone create the culture of Venice and all have the power to describe themselves and tell their own story independently of the styles that artistic trends have imposed on them, determining their form.

Thus, on the one hand the victory of consumerism that increasingly produces for those who always want more in a perverse mechanism fed by money and not by a respect for things or people; on the other hand the continual and silent resistance of the workers, the artisans who made Venice and who continue to monitor it, restore it and keep it alive today.

Following Jimmie Durham throughout this project, it is possible to glimpse another perspective and you understand that Venice manages to survive thanks to the workers and artisans who live exclusively to keep it alive and who are often the ones whose know-how has been transmitted from generation to generation, making the city unique and great.

The project by Durham for the Querini is only about Venice, the artisans, the people who work there, and the objects and materials that have created the power and the beauty of this city and which continue to keep it alive.

He wanted to understand who lies behind the machine of Venice’s stage: the ones who still perform that incessant and intense activity that regenerates Venice, and allows it to continue to be Venice.

Because here in Venice there are still furnaces where pieces of glass are made by master glassblowers and their assistants, one by one, just as they were made in the past, and in the same way there are the Burano lace-makers who still work with bobbins to create extraordinary pieces using techniques that require ability and creativity. How can we explain the meaning of that effort and that consistency? The meaning of the repetition of an action over time that serves to create objects even if they have become mere souvenirs? Jimmie Durham forces us to work with what we have, to see what we do not see and instead trample on. In other words, although tourism is causing the end of Venice as a city, Venice still survives because its population – although sparser and hidden backstage – continues to exist and carry out an extremely important task: that of keeping Venice alive. 

Title: Jimmie Durham

Venice: Objects, Work and Tourism

Curator: Chiara Bertola

Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice
kurimanzutto, Mexico City

With the support of:
FURLA Foundation, Bologna
Dena Foundation, Paris
ZERYNTHIA Associazione per l’Arte Contemporanea, Rome

Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice
Campo Santa Maria Formosa, Castello 5252
Carlo Scarpa Area and Museum

May 6 – September 20, 2015
From Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Closed on Mondays

The visit to the exhibition is included in the Fondazione Querini Stampalia’s entrance ticket.
Full ticket = 10 euros Reduced = 8 euros

For information:
Fondazione Querini Stampalia
Santa Maria Formosa
Castello 5252, 30122 Venice
Tel. + 39 041 2711411
Fax. + 39 041 2711445
  • Castello 5252
    Venezia (VE)


The Fondazione Querini Stampalia hosts a Library open until midnight and on holidays, and a Museum where furniture and works of art from the 14th to the 20th centuries convey the atmosphere of a patrician residence.
On the ground floor of the sixteenth-century building there are the area restored in 1963 by Carlo Scarpa and the recent work of Mario Botta which make visible the profound renewal of the Foundation.
A unique set that offers functional spaces for cultural and special events.

Company Contacts
S. Maria Formosa, Castello 5252
30122 - Venezia (VE)
+390412711411 www.querinistampalia.org
Further information
Palazzo Querini Stampalia, a few steps from Piazza San Marco, is considered one of the most interesting architectures in Venice.
Its history is linked to the Querini family, and particularly to his last descendant, Count Giovanni, who in 1868 bequeathed to the city of Venice the entire family assets: real estate and personal properties, books and art collections, all for public use.
In his will, he determines, for this purpose, the creation of an institution capable to promote "the cult of fine studies and useful disciplines" and open as much as possible, but especially when the other cultural institutions are closed.
In 1869, after his death, the palace became the seat of the Foundation, where a library, a museum and an area for temporary exhibitions are set up.
The Library has general topics and makes available to the public more than 350,000 volumes, of which 32,000 are directly accessible in the reading rooms, which are open until late at night and even on holidays. The oldest part of its collections consists of manuscripts, incunabula and 16th-century editions, ancient atlases and maps, which together with the family archives provide valuable historical documents to the scholars.

On the second floor the House-Museum, with the 18th century and neoclassical furniture, porcelain, biscuits, sculptures, globes and paintings from the 14th to the 20th centuries, conveys the atmosphere of a patrician residence with its mirrors and Murano glass chandeliers and fabrics woven on antique patterns. A journey through the history of Venetian art from the Renaissance of Giovanni Bellini to the Settecento of Giambattista Tiepolo, Pietro Longhi, Gabriel Bella.

The architectures of Carlo Scarpa, Valeriano Pastor and Mario Botta are the most visible signs of the contemporary approach to the 16th-century palace, where the comparison between different languages and the contamination between the different art forms are routinely sought in the events proposed to the public.
Carlo Scarpa achieves from 1959 to 1963 the well known restoration of the ground floor, which is based on a measured combination of modern and antique features and on a great skill in using materials typical to the Venetian tradition. Scarpa designed the bridge and the entrance, with the barriers of defense against the high tide, the noble staircase to the first floor, the portego and the garden.
From1982 to 1997 Valeriano Pastor designed works of consolidation and general reorganization of the building, but also specific interventions. The attention to the details of a door, or of a covered walkway, is the assimilation of Carlo Scarpa's example, revisited and returned in an original way. The pivot of this reorganization is the vertical connection housed in the space of a 19th-century staircase no longer in use. Pastor's achitectural insert gives the necessary unity to the articulated system of the Foundation.
The Italian-Swiss architect Mario Botta designed the new service area around a beautiful indoor court on which the Cafeteria and the Bookshop windows overlook. The Court also leads to the Auditorium, that completes this unique, complex and flexible place where ancient rooms next to modern spaces provide a stimulating setting for individual study and cultural initiatives.

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