A deep exchange between writer and filmmaker Alexander Kluge, artist Thomas Demand, stage designer Anna Viebrock and curator Udo Kittelmann resulted in The Boat is Leaking. The Captain Lied. One wonders how this quote by Leonard Cohen ended up the title of a media-oriented exhibition at the Fondazione Prada for the 57th Venice Biennale. The show mainly features photographs, films and installations borrowed from art enthusiast’s collections.
Alongside the exhibition, an illustrated book edited by Kittelmann is to be published by Fondazione Prada. An English and Italian edition of The Great Hour of Kong. A Chronicle of Connections by Kluge will be included in the three volumes, along with texts of various natures by Rachel Kushner, Udo Lethen, Thomas Oberender, Aurora Scotti, Devin A. Fore and many more.
The palazzo embodies the confluence of the three artist’s stories, not only on an esoteric level but a political and historical level. The three floors are transformed into a space where each media-based intervention communicates with the next, forming a sort of choose-your-own-adventure narrative. The historical ground of a Venetian palazzo becomes a space for experimentation, depending on how far the spectator chooses to take him or herself.
What is most peculiar about this show is that it was engendered by the different interpretations the participants of the show had of the 1883 painting Giorni… Ultimi by Italian artist Angelo Morbelli. This disagreement brought about the eccentric title of the show. Mistaking the conglomeration of elderly men inside the Pio Albergo for retired sailors at a hostel, one can imagine the poetic parallelism embedded within its Cohenesque spirit.
A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, The Biennial & Museum Acquisitions #41, page 102.