The Wedding at Cana: Peter Greenaway’s Vision

June 22, 2009 · Print This Article

Although it sounds like I won’t be missing much by not attending the Venice Biennale this year (oh hell, who am I kidding? or any year except one, when someone else was paying for it), based on some of the write-ups I’ve read, there are two events taking place there that I truly regret not being able to see for myself.

The first is Swoon’s Huck Finn-style floating barge, which I blogged about a few weeks ago and which has received in-depth coverage in New York magazine. More than I want to see the thing itself, though, I think what I really want is to be friends with Swoon and her deck mates.

Peter Greenaway at the

Peter Greenaway at the Palladian Refectory

The second is Peter Greenaway’s multimedia installation based on the Italian Mannerist Paolo Veronese’s gigantic painting, The Wedding Feast at Cana. Now, Greenaway isn’t someone I’d necessarily want to be buds with (I don’t think I could keep up), but he’s long been one of my favorite filmmakers (though I admit it seems a bit strange to talk about work like Greenaway’s in terms of ‘favorites,’ like it’s an ice cream flavor or something.) His early films, like The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982), A Zed and Two Naughts (1985), The Belly of an Architect (1987) Drowning by Numbers (1988) and his most mainstream “commercial” success, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989) are the films I know best; his later forays into installation and site-specific projects I’m less familiar with due to sheer lack of access to them.

Greenaway’s take on Wedding at Cana is part of an ambitious multi-part project in which the filmmaker/artist plans to bring nine classic art historical paintings to life in a modern context. Greenaway has already created installations revisiting Rembrandt’s The Nightwatch at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (via Greenaway’s film and an accompanying installation Nightwatching, made in 2006) and Leonardo’s The Last Supper in Milan (in a 2008 installation titled The Last Supper).

Greenaway’s “vision” of the Wedding takes place at the Palladian Refectory, the site where Veronese’s painting was first situated. Now, however, a facsimile of the work, commissioned by the Giorgio Cini Foundation, exists where the original once stood. Greenaway’s website describes the installation thusly:

“The Wedding at Cana facsimile, set in the original architectural context for which it had been conceived – the Palladian Refectory – offers Peter Greenaway the opportunity for an innovative and original interpretation via a state-of-the-art interplay of images, lighting, music, voices and sounds that will seem to emerge directly from the painting and the walls of the Refectory. The performance – a true multimedia event lasting about 50 minutes – makes spectators relive the episode of the marriage feast at Cana where Christ accomplished his first miracle, as narrated in the Gospel of John. Greenaway points out to the public the painting’s scores of characters, from the servants preparing dishes, to the banquet guests, to the guests of honor – Jesus Christ and his mother Mary – seated at the center of the painting’s architectural composition, in an on-going crescendo culminating in the narration’s crucial moment: the miracle of water turning into wine.”

Here’s a small image of the Paolo Veronese painting that’s under Greenaway’s scrutiny:


(click on the picture to be taken directly to the Wikipedia site containing a much larger file, which also gives you the ability to zoom in close on different parts of the painting).

There is an unofficial and no doubt surreptitiously shot video of the piece online to be found here; the quality is not great of course, but it gave me a little sense of what Greenaway is trying to accomplish. Better still, Roberta Smith has written a lengthy article on Greenaway’s Venice installation for the NYT today; it contains a great full-color installation shot which I’m too chicken to lift and post here. And Wired U.K. posted a brief, tech-oriented interview with Greenaway about the project last week.

I’d like to make a special request to any of you out there who went or are planning to go to Venice, saw this installation, and would care to comment on it, good or bad. Make me jealous: tell me all about the piece. What was it like? Did you think it worked? Was it smart or silly, and/or did you enjoy it?


Fridays Links Roundup

June 19, 2009 · Print This Article

On this weeks roundup we check out the conservation of contemporary art, AFC’s recap of Venice and Basel, and most importantly cats getting stoned via boing boing. Hope everyone has a great weekend and maybe well see you at galleries tonight.

Friday’s Links Roundup

June 12, 2009 · Print This Article


Wallpaper* Magazine’s collection of Tart Cards

Hope everyone has had a great week. On this weeks roundup we check out Murakami’s latest video for Louis Vuitton, a new article on Marina Abramovi?, and Wallpaper Magazine’s collection on Tart Cards. Have a good weekend and hopefully we will see you at the closing of Green Lantern.Viva La GL!

Wednesday Clips 6/10/09

June 10, 2009 · Print This Article

R. Crumb's Book of Genesis (via boing boing)

R. Crumb’s Book of Genesis (via boing boing)

Here’s hoping Meg’s sister “Peanut” Manuel kicks some ass at the US Boxing Championships!!

*Bruce Nauman’s Topological Gardens wins Golden Lion for best Pavillion at Venice Biennale (Art 21).

*John Baldessari and Yoko Ono receive Golden Lions for lifetime achievement in Venice (Unbeige). Go Santa!

*Marguerite Horberg plans Porto Luz, a new artistic center for Bronzeville (Chicago Weekly).

*What to wear during an Orange Alert? interviews Green Lantern Press editor Tobias Bengelsdorf.

*This site could become indispensable: The, which lets you stream hard-to-find foreign films directly to your computer. Pretty inexpensive, and some are even free (via Avant/Chicago).

*Google sends cease and desist letter to Yoooouuu Tuuube creator David Kraftsow: read Rhizome’s interview with Kraftsow about it here.

*You need ideas? They got ideas, lots of ’em: (via Artipedia).

*Eight museum shows you won’t be seeing in L.A. anytime soon (plus other cancelled shows across the country). Can someone scoop up MOCA’s cancelled Luisa Lambri show and bring it to Chicago? Pleeeaaase? (Culture Monster).

*World of Warcraft: The Exhibition (via Provisions Library).

*Drawing the webiverse: The Internet Mapping Project (via boing boing).

*Even the Louvre is worried about its future now (Unbeige).

*I am so pre-ordering this: R. Crumb’s upcoming Book of Genesis comic; excerpted in the New Yorker. (via boing boing, which has scans of the excerpt available on their website).

*Berwyn resident John Sisto discovered to have kept over 3500 religious artifacts and antiquities from Italy, 1600 of them stolen. (New York Times, Chicago Breaking News).

Friday’s Links Roundup

June 5, 2009 · Print This Article


In this week’s roundup we look at a video of crash test dummies (do you remember that horrible band? I know Richard does), the Venice Biennale, and some Nazi zombies, just to name a few. I don’t know about you guys but I’m going on vacay next week. Anyone know anything good to do in Denver?

  • OMG. Dead snow¸ looks like it’s going to kick some serious Nazi zombie ass.
  • Art Observed has a great links roundup to get you (not) in the mood for the Venice Biennale.
  • Former BAS guest Francesco Bonami is guest blogging over at The Moment.
  • Old GM crash test video from the 60’s are positively terrifying. I laughed so hard at work I think I scared my coworkers and am thankful I grew up in the 80s. Seat belts people.
  • Chicago Tribune had a papercraft tribute to Sen. Roland Burris.
  • Google introduced the Wave. I watched an hour of the hour and twenty min demo and then asked myself why I had watched it for that long.
  • This week I hit a new personal low when I Google image searched “Maru the Cat” and found an image of myself on the second page.
  • Everyone went crazy for The Beatles Rockband intro. And yes I think it does live up to all the hype. Well at least the first half, I am not a big Yellow Submarine fan.
  • The Seeker told us about James Felix McKenney’s AUTOMATONS.
  • Gary Hustwit’s new Documentary Objectified starts tonight at the Gene Siskel Film Center.
  • Seriously WTF?!