La Biennale di Venezia has had over 120 years of history since 1895. It was a great opportunity for me to participate in this international project as a Technical Intern, also to work alongside with Shirley Tse, the Los Angeles based Hong Kong artist and Christina Li, an international curator based in Hong Kong and Amsterdam.
As part of the team, my main responsibility was to assist the artist to set up two site responsive artworks, “Playcourt” which transforms the outdoor courtyard into a badminton court, and “Negotiated Differences”, an installation located indoor, combining traditional hand-turned wooden forms and 3D printed joints.
After staying in Venice for a month, I have concluded a few points based on the stories and working experience during the period.
Work like an Italian!
We failed to meet a few project deadlines due to shipment delays, which was impossible to avoid since Venice is a city built on over 100 small islands, separated by canals, with no loading vehicles but boats only. For me, the only possible way was to be flexible with a backup plan, stay calm and be positive like an Italian.
Running to the tools shop!
I was responsible for sourcing tools and materials for the artist. Glad that I brought my comfortable hiking shoes. It was definitely helpful for walking constantly on a floating city, and most importantly the water bus ticket was not cheap for an intern.
The streets in Venice are narrow and packed with tourists. I found a waterproof jacket and poncho more convenient compared to an umbrella during the rainy days, especially when we were carrying big bags of tools and equipment.
Italian staffs were generally helpful, but misunderstandings still happened due to our language barriers. Pictures and Google Translate have helped us to reduce shopping times especially when Shirley needed the tools urgently.
Meet artsy people!
The exhibition attracted curators, artists, journalists, art critics and lovers from around the world to gather in Venice, which created great global networking opportunities.
I bumped into a French journalist, an artist from Ukraine and Azerbaijan, as well as the local art students and others right outside the intern apartment. It was interesting to have conversations with people from different cultural backgrounds, using art as the universal language.
Venice is a complex island without many directional signs, one of my tasks was to find the contact person of one of the team member’s hostel which became a challenge, not only for me as an outsider, but the locals as well. After spending a while getting lost and being confused on the street, I successfully broke into the hostel room with door opened and no security inside.
Spend the money carefully!
The consumer price index in Venice is higher compared to Hong Kong. In order to avoid wasting huge amounts of money, we tried our best to prepare as many tools and pieces of equipment as we could in Hong Kong.
May you live in interesting times.