You off anywhere this summer?
There’s been a couple of weeks off from reviews going online here. I’ve been writing but it’s stuff which isn’t coming out just yet. So I was going to review the Output Open last week. And this week…*
The reason I haven’t, the problem, is that I’ve only been able to talk or even think about one thing this entire week. The Reds.
If you’re a Liverpool fan, how have you possible been able to talk about anything else? Pick any cliche you want about it being a rollercoaster or whirlwind or other fast-moving-chaotic-simile, but this week I have felt every emotion you care to name: fear, anger, sadness, nerves, confidence, utter joy. It’s been a frankly overwhelming week and I’m looking forward to having a couple of weeks off from it all. But then we go again, one more time, in Madrid.
By coincidence, this week has also seen the opening of the Venice Biennale. For those outside the art world, this is one of the art world’s biggest events. Lots of people on my social media feeds are there, many pictures of ice creams and Aperol Spritz’s have been posted. To counter these, there’s also been a fair bit of hugely irritating “isn’t Venice terrible” posts. This is not one of those: I’d promised myself I’d go this year. For all that I’m sure there’s a heavy dose of pretentious wankery about, there must be a reason it’s so influential, and I’d like to be able to see why for myself. Alas, as circumstance and maybe fate would have it, I’m going to Madrid instead.
And you know what? I’m not sorry.
Probably the main thing that the Biennale and the Champions League final have in common is that they’re both a decent reason for an international trip. But while I’ve consistently umm’d and aah’d about actually committing money to Venice, last Tuesday night there was absolutely no question. I was watching the game at home, and the first thing I did once I’d picked myself up off the floor was get online and get the flights to Spain. I’m not sure my credit card bill will ever recover, but there was no choice. Then I had a cry and got a lift to go into town. Of course I did – there was no choice. How could any of us let that win go uncelebrated?? Emotions were running too high for sleep, and the only way to change that was to go and sing and dance with other people filled with the same delirium for a while,
Venice is different: the biggest and most famous art event in the world is, essentially an intellectual exercise. Nothing wrong with this at all, but it’s not the same as the emotional connection. Whilst it’s possible to love individual pieces of art to the extent of wanting to get lost in them forever, it’s still not the same as getting swept up in the utter euphoria of what celebrating The Reds has been this week. And in Venice I imagine, like when I’m in any of the really big museums, I wouldn’t just sit with that feeling anyway because there’d be so much to see in so little time…The funny thing is, Madrid could yet end up as the absolute worst trip of my life. If we lose I don’t know how I’ll stand it. But if we win – my God. And I’m trying to think of any arts event about which I’ve felt anywhere near the same. No way have I ever been so moved by something that I’d drop everything for it.
Another thing the events share is the “I was there” factor – though again, this will only mean anything in Madrid if we win…When I read about Venice, though, this element is especially strong. I mean, somebody at a major arts publication actually went and decided to a piece called “Yacht Watch“. Of course this is only one aspect of the hubbub – nobody on my social media feeds is, to my knowledge, there on a super yacht. Although this broad appeal to both the media and my Insta feed does spark a sense of insecurity about not being there. Am I even in the art world if I don’t go?
Besides, whilst a great deal of art and music about football culture can be pretty terrible, the Barca game gave us a visual which – in my opinion anyway – counts as a genuine contender for the overused word “iconic”.
I might well be the only person in the world trying to put these things together – there’s no reason why the two events should have equivalence to anyone apart from me, who has to choose where to spend my money. But I’ve written about this before, and I continue to be fascinated by the difference in my relationships to these two significant pillars in my life. The fact that the thing I chose to build my life around would still never make me act in the crazy way that what’s essentially a hobby does. Venice or Madrid: if I could afford it, I’d of course do both But with any luck, the question of which passion gets my travel budget is one I’ll have to ask again in the years to come. And as fascinating as international art travel sounds, whilst football gives me weeks like this I know it’ll always win.
*the art in the Output Open ranges from the cute to the weirdly disturbing. I like it when rooms are put together like this, just of things that are liked. Pop in if you’re in town before the 19th May.
Featured Image; Rousseau, Henri Julien Félix, 1844-1910. Football Players. 1908. Artstor, library.artstor.org/asset/ARTSTOR_103_41822000792232