Shepard Fairey, who rose to fame and made his mark with his wildly successful and now controversial Obama campaign poster, has left his mark here in Venice as well. During the June international art orgy known as the Venice Biennale, Fairey was brought to a tiny bar in the San Polo quarter near the Rialto Bridge by two Biennale hostesses, according to Guiliano, the bartender at Boteri Cafe.
“He was a little drunk, but very nice,” says the barman. The Boteri, also known as Al Genovesi (San Polo 1701 Venezia) on the Calle Del Botteri, is a tiny little art hangout covered with Keith Haring inspired drawings. Fairey must have thought the café was ripe for some more American graffiti and so he returned the next day with a fat portfolio of his Obey propaganda and asked the owner if he could paper the back room with his designs. “No problem,” said the owner, eager to have some live art to go with the Haring installation and create a wall-sized souvenir from a clandestine Venice Biennale
The posters fit nearly perfectly and, while not a shrine for Fairey fans, it does give a contemporary glow to the place which is crowded at apero hour with older locals and crowded til one am with students and bohos.
Fairey’s trying to climb back on the sweet roll since his confession about the Obama poster mishagas. His latest foray into political scandal is an Italian love-hate story. The cover of The Rolling Stone featuring the recently clobbered-with-a-small souvenir model of the Milan Cathedral, Italian Premier, Silvio Berlusconi. [See it here].
Meanwhile, on Christmas Eve the Basilica San Marco was both mobbed by Venetian believers and flooded Noah-style from the ever-rising rushing acqua alta. So enjoy these pictures of the Venetian Lagoon waters running rampant over yet another Italian institution and art piece – floods get in your eyes.
Matthew Rose is an artist and writer based in Paris. An interview with him about his project A Book About Death was broadcast on Writer’s Voice, here.