Egidio Marzona. Photo: Katrīna Ģelze

Report from Venice - Café Paradiso 0

Release of the second volume of the magazine Arterritory Conversations with Collectors

Agnese Čivle

Photo: Katrīna Ģelze

On the third morning of the Venice Biennale, its central venue – the Giardini, or Gardens, are awake and alert. The espresso bar at the Giardini's legendary Café Paradiso has already provided the morning caffeine fix for today's guests – the press and various art professionals (artists, collectors, curators, etc.). Also attendant today is Massimiliano Gioni, head curator of the previous Biennale, Venice's 55th. This year, however, Gioni is enjoying the Biennale as a vacation, without any responsibilities or even a duty to reveal his personal thoughts on the main exhibition. On the ground-floor gallery of the café, stainless steel and aluminum sculptures of gigantic paint rollers (by Thai artist Kamol Tassananchalee) are on display; on the rooftop veranda of this miniature palazzo, Latvian singer Jānis Šipkēvics performs while Egidio Marzona – the world's most prominent collector of 20th-century conceptual art – relaxes on a designer couch and smokes his iconic pipe. Also present is the Belgian art collector Alain Servais, today's most active commentator on all things related to art. This morning the rooftop terrace of Café Paradiso, overlooking both the Giardini (created by Napoleon Bonaparte) and Venice's Grand Canal, is the site of a brunch cooperatively organized by the creators of the Latvian National Pavilion, the culture project agency “Indie”, and the art website “”; the event also marked the  release of the second volume of the magazine Arterritory Conversations with Collectors.

It was indeed an important day for Latvian art – the exhibit of the Latvian National Pavilion at the Venice Biennale was officially opened in the Arsenale, as was the exhibition “Ornamentalism. Latvian Contemporary Art. The Purvītis Prize”, an official Collateral Event of the Biennale.

Attendees of the brunch were assuredly awake after the verbal ping-pong that took place between Kaspars Vanags (curator of the exhibition “Armpit”, in Latvia's National Pavilion), and the internationally renown Italian-Russian art curator and theoretician Viktor Misiano – curator of the exhibition “Ornamentalism. Latvian Contemporary Art. The Purvītis Prize” (as organized by the culture project agency “Indie”). Misiano ended the friendly repartee with an optimistic compromise: “It's good that Latvia has two exhibitions – inevitably, something will be noticed.” With this statement, Misiano asserted his aspiration in demonstrating the unique art phenomena of Latvia that characterize the country's territorial, national and mental cognizance – qualities that signify Latvia as an essential part of the global art scene.

In closing, Misiano addressed those assembled on the release of the latest volume of Arterritory Conversations with Collectors. He reminded his audience that the passion to collect art was what saved the avant-garde from destruction, as well as what urged the German collector Marzona to contemplate: what is an art collector – an artist, a curator, or a producer? Through the haze of his pipe smoke, Marzona instantly replied to Misiano: “Definitely not an artist. Nor a curator – I like to see how others work with my collection. A producer – yes! I invite the artist over, we discuss things, we compromise... It is producing.” After Misiano's short speech, Una Meistere, the woman behind the concept of the magazine Arterritory Conversations with Collectors, presented the featured collectors with specially-made pins indicating their membership in an extraordinary league – a group of people who directly support the art world through their actions. 

Kaspars Vanags (curator of the exhibition “Armpit”, in Latvia's National Pavilion), Viktor Misiano (curator of the exhibition “Ornamentalism. Latvian Contemporary Art. The Purvītis Prize”) and Una Meistere (Director of

Egidio Marzona

Latvian artists Katrīna Neiburga and Andris Eglītis in Latvia's National Pavilion

Agnese Čivle, English Editor of

Egidio Marzona, Kaspars Vanags and Viktor Misiano