Form in fiction

Version 2

Kelly Best, installation shot, Ca D’oro, 57th Venice Biennale of Art. Image courtesy of the artist.


Until the invigilators begin their morning sweep of the terrazzo floor, the sides and corners of the main room of the palazzo are lined with dust and rubble. In the hallway the daylight pierces the doorway, revealing that this dust occupies the airspace as well as the sides and corners. There is dust everywhere.

The dust has much to do with salt. The lagoon in its watery parts, as well as its urban parts, is saturated in salt. Its people’s biggest asset for centuries, the salt in the ecosystem climes up through the porous infrastructure of the city, like plants sucking up water. Aided by both old-age and sulphur pollution from the nearby chemical plant, it causes the interior of its buildings to crumble, like biscuit. Dust gathers at the edges and corners of rooms and is swept away every morning like the human hair on the floor of the barbers.

It dissolves into the canals giving back the salt to the ecosystem together with the cloudy pollutant sulphur, to be absorbed by the urban infrastructure again, and round and round it goes, with the pulse of the universe, creating dust.

The dust lining the paving from here, where we are stood, to the Palazzo is mostly contained to the outer parts of the fondamenta, kicked into the cracks in the wall or reversely shepherded into the canal by walkers. In the Palazzo the sculptures are wiped clean from dust each hour by said invigilators, lest the upper echelons of the art world should see them unkempt, after all it is the Biennale; no others are as long-running, gregarious, or dusty.

The L-shaped, salt-white sculpture stands with an impossible composite stance in the main room. Someone said you cannot tell what a picture really is or what an object really is until you dust it every day. The invigilators know this more than anyone, and know this sculpture better than anyone.


Part of Form In Fiction, a collaborative project with Kelly Best. Supported by Arts Council Wales.