03 March, 2021

Venice Diary

Throughout history, Venice, with its Virgin Mary cult, has been known as ‘the city of miracles’. That the miracle happened this year is thanks to two people...

Venice Diary

Mouthing Off Gift Horses

My previous visit to Venice had been heartbreaking. In 2007, for the first time, the Venice Biennale offered India an official country pavilion—a coveted prize at the world’s most prestigious art extravaganza. National capitals lobby tooth and nail to get in. But in India’s case, the curator flew to Delhi to make the offer. Our then culture secretary responded: “Why should we participate? Anyway, please come through the proper channels.” (I swear I’m not making this up!). People I met in Venice that year were open-mouthed about Delhi’s stupidity. So I can be excused for believing that it would take another 116 years (that’s how old the Biennale is) before our babus wake up to the importance of culture in creating a compelling national image (nuclear bombs and nine per cent growth...

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