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  • Writer's pictureBeyond the Canvas

Where Once the Waters, David Cass - Venice Biennale

My experience at the Venice Biennale is that it is often the fortuitous detour, aka me getting lost like I inevitably do, that is going to take you to the most unexpected rewards. This is how I came across David Cass' installation near the Giardini (now sadly closed so apologies for the late post).

David's work is about the rise of sea levels, an issue Venice knows all too well. The idea behind Where Once the Waters is to raise awareness about the variation in sea level in the place nearest our birthplace since we were born. David asked people to submit their data on his website and then typed the results provided by oceanographic organisations across the world on some 600 personally addressed letters he never sent - they are all posted on a wall here. On the opposite wall, a collection of painted everyday objects like small tin boxes of different shapes where David explores the theme of the sea and shifting horizons.

David wasn't there when I visited, but I spoke at length with his delightful dad. He told me that it took his son 3 years to do all the researching, collating, painting and, I'm assuming, typing, for this project. As I was listening to him, I realised there was something profoundly moving, almost poetic, behind the care and the time devoted to the design and completion of this installation. I could picture David sat before his typewriter writing to strangers around the globe, no two letters the same, delivering alarming data in a way that is both matter-of-factly and intimate, and I just knew his concern for this issue is genuine.

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