Opening Day

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It’s Sunday, the day that the Biennale opens to the public for a run that continues through November 21. The rain is long gone but the high summer weather is edging in. By August the mid-afternoon heat will be Egyptian but for now it’s tolerable. It’s a good day to sit for a while at a shaded table and watch the tourists snapping pictures. If a city could be worn smooth by little clicks, this would be the one.

Having been here now for four days, I thought for a moment about offering some general observations of the city. Then I thought — naah. My mind keeps returning to what Henry James said about Venice. “There is nothing left to discover or describe, and originality of attitude is utterly impossible.” Naturally, he wrote those words near the beginning of a lengthy appreciation of all things Venetian, simply compounding the problem for the rest of us.

A few days ago I was at another table near the Giardini, taking a break from the media previews, when a man went past near the edge of the Grand Canal, crawling on his hands and knees. I thought for a moment he was disabled until I realized he was wearing a white suit and sneakers on his hands. A performance artist. That’s how I knew the Biennale was getting started for real.

I’ll post again a little while from now about Tracey Emin at the British pavilion.