Now on view at Venice’s Despar Teatro Italia is Kenneth Goldsmith’s “HILLARY: The Hilary Clinton Emails.” A solo exhibition curated by Francesco Urbano Ragazzi, the show creates a narrative on the fine line between private and public spaces in the age of mass digitalization, and acts as an anti-monument to the emails Hillary Clinton sent via private server, which began raising concerns in 2009 and contributed to her defeat in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
For the show, the artist created an Oval Office-reminiscent environment residing on the balcony level of the Despar Teatro Italia where, using methods of appropriation Goldsmith proposed in his book Uncreative Writing, he made public for the first time nearly 60,000 pages of emails sent from clintonemail.com between the years of 2009-2013. Presented as a stack of papers atop a wooden desk, the emails—though treated as one of the most important political documents of our time—are admittedly unimpressive and poke fun at the efforts of Donald Trump, who used them as the sole basis of a smear campaign against Clinton prior to the election.
In addition to a narrative on politics and privacy, the exhibition at Despar Teatro Italia aims to restore the space’s original function. Once the second largest cinema on the island of Venice, the theater was renovated and transformed into a supermarket in 2016. Along with the Clinton emails, Goldsmith (who founded an online portal for avant-garde films and poems called UbuWeb) included a program of big screen projections, including works by Peggy Ahwesh, Sophia Al-Maria, Shadi Habib Allah, Leah Singer, and People Like Us.
The exhibition, opened in conjunction with Venice’s 58th Biennale of Visual Arts, was visited earlier this year by Clinton herself. Organized by The Internet Saga and Zuecca Projects in collaboration with Circuitozero, Università Ca’ Foscari, The Bauers, and NERO, it will remain open to the public through November 24.