I’m always reluctant to pay the €30 entry fee to see cutting edge or politically correct art at the two sites of the Biennale, so I try to find interesting free venues which are often better. This year is no exception. There are two quirky shows, both with a West Indian theme, which have fascinating stories.
The Stephen Chambers exhibition at Ca’ Dandolo next to the San Toma Vaporetto stop has the added advantage of admitting you to a palazzo on the Grand Canal not normally open to the public. It tells the story through portraits in a faux naïf style of the uninhabited tiny island of Redonda and its imaginary court.
The Frank Walter show is the work of an artist and self taught eccentric who lived on Antigua, the first black man to manage a sugar plantation. He came to Europe to study the latest technology but met such racism that he returned and ended up living as a recluse in a ramshackle hut without access to roads, running water or electricity.
Both shows are fascinating, lively and life enhancing.