Light Messenger

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Date: 1995
Ref: 0009
Catalogued: Lucy + Jorge Orta. Light Works, Black Dog Publishing, 2010, ISBN 978-1-907317-04-0
Exhibition history: Canal Grande, XLVI Biennale Biennale di Venezia, Italy
Courtesy: The Artists

Representing Argentina for the 46th Venice Biennale by invitation of the curator Jorge Glusberg, Jorge Orta created a mobile ephemeral work to celebrate the majestic floating city by using the water’s surface as a mirror, creating unusual shimmering light reflections on the surface of the buildings.

During three inaugural nights of the Venice Biennale, a silent Venetian cargo boat, carrying a giant image projector, navigated the Grand Canal, passing the extraordinary eleventh-century Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and the sumptuous palaces Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti, Palazzo Bernardo, Palazzo Barbarigo, Fondaco dei Turchi, and Cà d'Oro. Using the gondola moorings at various points along the canal, these temporary platforms provided a stage from which to ‘graffiti’ the facades of the buildings, playing host to the night festivities.

The pictograms projected onto the Venetian palaces and churches were created during community workshops run by the artists with children from a village in Jorge’s hometown of Rosario and homeless youths in Paris. They depict personal belongings such as combs or seashells computerised using the latest computer graphic programs. Together they represent the silent visual language of marginalised communities.

I am, me, the Salute, the result of an act of grace. Don’t forget! Longhena, baroque and triumphant, conceived me so that the terrible plague of 1630 could cease, unforgiving and unforgettable. So what’s this reappearing, from time to time, on my stone skin, strange mixtures, coloured incandescence, I’m not offended by them! On the contrary!
--Bernard Heidsieck on the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute