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Ciao, Canadese: The Agenda in Venice

The canoes of Reverse Pedagogy bound for Venice 2009 / photo Dean Baldwin

Whether heading off to Italy in person or experiencing the festivities vicariously, the Venice Biennale is on the minds of many art lovers this week. And with a full roster of openings, screenings and secretive events planned by Canadian artists and organizations, it’s a good time to be a real or virtual Canuck visitor to Venice.

The premiere of three new films by Mark Lewis, Canada’s official representative at the biennale, promises to not only draw attention to the Canadian art landscape, but also to bring some Canadian cityscapes to Venice. Commissioned by Justina M. Barnicke Gallery director Barbara Fischer, several of Lewis’ films are set in Toronto and feature a blend of documentary footage, staged dramatic action and rear-projection techniques. Lewis’ exhibition opens at the Canada Pavilion June 4 as part of the festival-wide vernissage and continues until November. A series of official pavilion blogs will keep those at home up to date.

The Canada Pavilion also plays host to a special launch of Canadian Art’s summer issue on the evening of Friday, June 5. The new issue, which arrives on Canadian newsstands June 15, features an in-depth article on Lewis’ work by critic Nancy Tousley, an artist project by Lewis and an interview between Barbara Fischer and editor Richard Rhodes. All provide a behind-the-scenes peek at the biennale’s Canadian contingent.

Finally, for those seeking some aesthetic mischief and nighttime revelry, the experimental, nomadic art school Reverse Pedagogy offers a packed schedule of social events and artistic interventions. Comprised of 29 artists and curators—Fastwürms, Katie Bethune-Leamen, Kelly Mark and Jon Sasaki among them—the group aims to create “a sanctuary from the pressures and responsibilities that come with being a professional artist, giving artists room to experiment, fail and exchange.” Highlights of their residency in Venice include Dean Baldwin’s Algonquin Tiki Tiki Hut bar at the Canada party in the Rialto Fish Market on June 4, a “mystery nighttime activity” June 5, a tug of war against New York–based artist Swoon on June 6 and canoe expeditions on the city’s canals to June 10. The Reverse Pedagogy blog also promises long-distance photographs, updates and details throughout.

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