The Venice Biennale, one of the world’s largest art events, is in full swing. As the island city teems with artists, art pops up everywhere, both in and out of the Biennale grounds.
Three Concordia fine arts faculty – Cynthia Hammond, Kathleen Vaughan and Kelly Thompson – are busy implementing an art project on the Venetian island of Giudecca from the 15th to the 22nd of May, 2017.
Once the site of agrarian land use, prisons and heavy industry, the island is off the main tourist track. It is, however, home to Venice’s second largest private garden space after the Biennale itself: the Giardino dell’Eden. The ‘Garden of Eden’ was an English curiosity in this Italian city – and currently the subject of a mystery.
Purchased by Frederic Eden in 1884, the garden was curated by his wife Caroline (sister to the famed 20th-century garden designer, Gertude Jekyll) and became a celebrated stop for artists and expatriates for nearly a century.
Now for the mystery: virtually no one has seen the famous garden in decades, after the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser purchased it in 1979 and locked its doors to visitors, hoping to encourage a protected wilderness.
“To my knowledge, we are the only artists who have become interested in the garden and its many histories during this Biennale,” says Cynthia Hammond.
Hammond, Vaughan and Thompson submitted a proposal asking for access the garden, but were turned down by the foundation that manages it.
“Our original dream had been to simply unlock the garden for the day, to make it public,” says Hammond. “But the foundation wants to respect Hundertwasser’s wishes.”