Meanwhile, on Patrizia’s island

Tuesday 23rd April, 2024 - Bruce Sterling

The island of San Giacomo di Paludo in the Venice lagoon is a short boat trip away from San Marco, but had been abandoned since the 1960s. In 2018 it was bought by the Turin-based collector Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and her husband Agostino, with the aim of turning it into a cultural and research centre, hosting discussions on art, music, theatre and contemporary culture.

While initial hopes that it might be open to visitors during the Biennale have been dashed, that does not mean that nothing is happening on the island. On 18 April the Korean dancer and choreographer Eun-Me Ahn, along with her company of ten artists, will present a transformative performance embracing the entire island.

According to Sandretto, the performance—entitled Pinky Pinky ‘Good’: San Giacomo’s Leap into Tomorrow—will revolve around the colour pink; it will be a “multi-dimensional experience intertwining art, spirituality, and community engagement”, she explains. She and the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist jointly chose Eun-Me Ahn, and the public will be welcome to attend and indeed will be encouraged to engage with the ritual.

San Giacomo has a long history. “The island has over the centuries been a monastery, a stopping point for travelling pilgrims, a vineyard, a vegetable garden and finally a fortified military site; the restoration is guided with respect for the history and values of the place and attention to its ecosystem,” Sandretto says. Three powder magazines were built by Napoleon in 1810 on the site of the former monastery, and these buildings are being restored as part of Sandretto’s project. “We hope to open to the public in 2025,” she says. “Our plan is to turn it into a garden, to restore the ruined buildings, the former powder magazines, and to repurpose them as exhibition spaces. The island of San Giacomo will be completely energy self-sufficient, an eco-sustainable centre, where the crucial issues of climate change and the environment can be addressed through art.”….