I’ve spent the past two months in residence in Venice, part residency, part work-placement at Wales’ fifth exhibition at the Biennale of Art. Within the crumbling walls of the Ludateca in the Castello sestiere of the main island, kind of conveniently jammed between the Giardini and the Arsenale, Bedwyr Williams’ The Starry Messenger is a tangential meditation on astronomy, specifically the amateur variety, terrazzo flooring, hobby-ism and the accumulation of stuff we strew throughout the world, the act of starring down at the floor verses looking up at the stars. Throughout the circuital journey round the Ludateca you’re invited to imagine yourself as one of the tiny pieces of stone and other things that find their way into the highly polished terrazzo floors of Venice. They don’t start off tiny, through life’s process of grinding, bashing, and erosion, terrazzo flooring is a violent and high-pressured process.
When you’re stood or sat within the remnants of Bedwyr’s mind for 5 days a week, for seven weeks, six hours a day it kind of infiltrates your day-to-day psyche. I’ve been noticing, between the cracks of Venice, its boutiques, cavernous urban planning and canals, things I might not otherwise have paid mind to.
One of the first objects that you’ll encounter is an observatory, fully equipped with a telescope.
A carp-pool of terrazzo pieces bobbing in the dark is your next encounter.
I’m actually writing this in retrospect in New York City, where the subway cars are floored with this effect. This is a rubber sort of imitation of terrazzo. Although terrazzo has humble ‘poor-man’s marble’ origins, its constellation is replicated in plastic everywhere, like Rothko, for the purposes of a transient and pleasant journey.