Back to work. Very quiet. Time enough to learn of a fascinating story behind this summer's upcoming Venice Biennale. The theme will be 'The Encyclopedic Palace', based on the project of a self-taught Italian-American artist, Marino Auriti (1891-1980). The Palace was an imaginary museum that was meant to house all worldly knowledge, bringing together the greatest discoveries of the human race, from the wheel to the satellite. Auriti took out a patent and built a scale model in the 1950s - looking like something out of Metropolis or a Le Corbusier blueprint. It never got built of course, and the model ended up languishing for decades in a lock-up storage unit in Newport, Delaware.
The story now transfers to his granddaughter, a certain B.G. Firmani, who with her husband, Damian, managed to attract the attention of the American Folk Art Museum, where it was presented as part of an exhibition in 2004. It then disappeared into storage again before being singled out by the 2013 Venice Biennale's chief curator, Massimiliano Gioni, as the central exhibit and theme for this year's show.
This is a good enough story in its own right - and you can read more here - but there's more. I don't know B.G.Fermani, but I do know her husband, Damian. At risk of sounding like a jetsetting Beatnik, we used to hang out in New York in the late-80s. Small world.