Venice as Text
“Traditions Found in the Cracks of New Moldings”
I’ve noticed that Venice is a fusion of tradition and contemporary lifestyles. Locals have adapted to the influx of tourists by modifying traditions to make them more appealing for visitors. Through this transformation we are able to see what has changed and what hasn’t.
Originally, in the 1600s noblemen captained the popular black gondolas and dressed in black attire. This was done to avoid being noticed by spies and invaders as they traveled through the canals. Over time, as threats decreased and tourism increased, noblemen were replaced with gondoliers dressed in black and white striped attire and the gondolas were modified to attract tourists and fit the ideal romantic scene. The exterior of the gondolas in present day are still painted black to preserve tradition, but the insides are decorated with gold paint and pattern printed seats. Modernity is merged into tradition as it repurposes the use of gondolas.
An old prison transformed into a metaphor of modern societies own theoretical prison. The Bridge of Sighs connects the Doge’s Palace to Piombi, an old prison once used as a symbol of confinement that is now used to represent liberation. In this years La Biennale di Venezia, the theme was Taiwan in Venice. The exhibition, titled “3x3x6” focuses on liberation: freedom of sexuality, social norms, and discrimination, all of which people were bound by when the prison was active and still suffer from in present day society. The exhibition itself is a metaphor to describe the issues our society still suffers from. A presentation focused on liberation is held within an old prison, because although we are free, we are still slaves to the media and social norms.
Not only has tourism and modern society influenced the presentations of old buildings and customs, it has also forced families to reconsider location and lifestyles. The small island of Burano was once, and still is, the home to fishermen and lacemakers. The dynamic between married couples has remained the same, following the guidelines of tradition: the women knit lace and the men fish. As society evolved, universities were built beyond the city limits of Burano, forcing young adults to separate from their families to study elsewhere. The concept of leaving Burano in search of jobs and education attracted others to join this pursuit, leaving Burano a quiet place for small business owners to share their crafts with tourists.
Modernity is fused into the traditional aspects of Venice. However, the small city has managed to maintain its authenticity despite tourism and the push for modernization.