In Venice, rebuilding San Giacomo island thanks to...

In Venice, rebuilding San Giacomo island thanks to FSRR

The Sandretto Re Rebaudengo foundation of Turin bought the island of San Giacomo in Venice and the institution’s plans include a lot of cultural and artistic activity at 360 ° for the next few years.

In modern times, the first time that the figure of the collector arrived in the lagoon was with the famous and always well remembered in the city Peggy Guggenheim. The second most important person who arrived and decided to stay there taking in order the purchase of Palazzo Grassi was Francois Pinault. He loves the city so much that he has restored a landmark building in Venice such as Punta della Dogana and he set up his second exhibition venue, this time not

buying but renting it for some decades, giving back the city a special place. After them, Miuccia Prada came to the lagoon with her foundation. She bought Ca’ Corner della Regina, she restored it and every year during the Biennale she inaugurates an exhibition with an international appeal.

Venice is grateful to them but let’s face it: the city is used to having big names in art, fashion and cinema. In the lagoon we are used to seeing foundations and galleries, in short, for those who live there it is nothing new.

The absolute novelty, however, was to discover that Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and her foundation have decided to buy an island and make there the fourth pole of art by FSRR. For those who didn’t know, Patrizia’s story is linked to the city. In fact, as can also be read in the book Curator by Francesco Bonami, the lady of Turin art began to get noticed during an exhibition in the Biennale period, many years ago.

The island purchased by the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo foundation is the island of San Giacomo, located between Murano and Madonna del Monte, along the canal called Scomenzera San Giacomo. This place has an interesting history: in 1046 Orso Badoer granted it to Giovanni Trono di Mazzorbo to build a monastery dedicated to San Giacomo Maggiore that would welcome travelers and pilgrims. In 1238, however, the convent passed to the Cistercian nuns, but they abandoned it in 1440 and moved to the abbey of Santa Margherita di Torcello. In 1456 it was temporarily used as a hospital and in the 16th century the conventual minor friars settled there.

In September 1975, during the Theater Biennale, the director Jerzy Grotowski had staged in here Apocalypsis cum figuris. In the dark, broken only by the light of the candles, the Apocalypse seemed like a dream. Inspired by the tales of that “poor”, courageous and free theater, the activities on the island were inaugurated with a performance.

On 21 April, when the 59th International Art Exhibition opened, the performance In the tired watering by Jota Mombaça, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, was confronted with dynamic qualities water, with the concerns related to the climate change and environmental crisis, and with the awareness of the imminence of a possible planetary catastrophe. Just as I am writing, the restoration work on the island of San Giacomo has begun, the end of which is assumed to be the end of 2024.

The “construction site” will be an opportunity to carry out the restoration work and the specifically designed artistic planning in parallel. In the coming years the artists Giovanna Silva and Antonio Fortugno will be there working, in charge of carrying out a photographic campaign designed to document the entire journey from different perspectives, moving between the microscopic and the panoramic. The landscape architect Antonio Perazzi is entrusted with the design of green areas and the construction of a small wood that will be dedicated to the director Grotowski. Not only mass tourism in the city in the coming years Venice but also, thanks to this project, an even more central role in the huge world art map.

Francesco Liggieri


Isola di San Giacomo in Paludo
Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

Island of San Giacomo, photo Giovanna Silva, courtesy Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

Jota Mombaça, In the the tired watering, performance, courtesy Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

Jota Mombaça, In the the tired watering, performance, courtesy Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo


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