48″ x 72″
text from “Death in Venice” by Thomas Mann and the music score from Benjamin Britten’s Death in Venice opera.
photo: Rob Jaffe
Venice is constructed from excerpts of Death in Venice written by Thomas Mann after his visit to the city in 1911. during his travels he experienced a cholera outbreak and was witness to a strange mixture of official denials, undermined by persistent rumors, creating a sense of unease that features prominently in the text. The novel’s protagonist, Gustav von Aschenbach, falls victim to his own obsessive desires and yearnings in a metaphor for the state of the disease stricken city of Venice. The walls text are also interwoven with segments of the music score by Benjamin Britten for the Operatic interpretation of Mann’s novel – these notes are only visible along the walls facing the Grand Canal and around the circumference of Venice where it meets the water. The work is made from absorbent paper partially soaked in water and mud dredged from the lagoon surrounding Venice. These water stains seeping upwards from the base of the sculpture through the crisp, white paper parallel the unique predicament of Venice as it gradually returns to the water and reference the contamination that spread the water born cholera through the city.