Jonas Mekas, The Internet Saga, Venice Biennale 2015

Review by Robert Mills | 30 Jun 2015
  • Jonas Mekas, Venice Biennale

The sixteenth century Palazzo Foscari Contarini is home to Jonas Mekas' installation The Internet Saga. The palace is also home to the only Burger King in Venice. In its 56th year, the Venice Biennale has the theme All the World's Futures, so an exhibition in Burger King seems very fitting.

The 93 year old Lithuanian-American film maker has always been known for being a pioneer in experimental film and Jonas Mekas' recent installation stays true to that. Upstairs, in the dining area of the Burger King, there are three screens, normally used to show in the restaurant, with three videos playing. These videos all consist of footage that Mekas has been uploading to the web since 2007. A mix of intimate photographs and videos, they are all available online to see, and now they are all available to see in Burger King, drawing parallels with bringing the private life to the public. When does offline become online anymore? All of these details are available to almost everyone at almost any time.

The windows have stills from all these videos and photographs printed on clear acetate. You can see out onto the Grande Canal, but not without seeing Mekas, his friends or some other intimate moment of life he has chosen to share with you.

Exploring the exhibition, it quickly becomes apparent a lot of people are not actively engaging with the installation, a change from the other pavilions and exhibitions which are bustling with visitors. Standing and watching the video is almost to be part of the artwork. Customers of Burger King may give you a few glances, confused as to why you're there and not ordering food and sitting down, in the same way most of the things posted online are just ignored, unless they're actively sought out.