Red Regatta: Melissa McGill's Environmental Art in Venice, Italy | Visual Art | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Red Regatta: Melissa McGill's Environmental Art in Venice, Italy 

click to enlarge PHOTO: MARCO VALMARANA
  • Photo: Marco Valmarana

In the lagoon of Venice there's a flash of color: groups of sailboats, all flying red sails. The red hues of the sails blend, and when reflected on the blue water, green hues become visible. This is the Red Regatta project of Beacon-based artist Melissa McGill. (Chronogram readers may remember McGill's 2017 installation around Bannerman Castle, Constellation.)

McGill choreographed the four Red Regatta events from May to September 2019 with the Associzaione Vela al Terzo Venezia, the Venetian boat club. Each regatta was in a separate area of the lagoon, and McGill and her team directed the 52 sailboats with radios.

The regattas were comprised of traditional vela al terzo sailboats, each sporting handpainted red sails in shades that McGill developed herself in her studio. Overall, it took two years to complete, with the help of co-organizer Magazzino Italian Art in Cold Spring.

click to enlarge PHOTO: JONATHAN HOARE
  • Photo: Jonathan Hoare

McGill has a long personal history with Venice, which has been struggling recently: Predictions say that Venice may be underwater by 2100, and increasing tourism threatens to overwhelm normal Venetian life. "I have seen the city change dramatically over that time, and was inspired to create a vibrant artwork aiming to unite Venetians and visitors to celebrate the cultural and maritime history of the city, and call attention to the forces of climate change and mass tourism that threaten its future," says McGill.

Claudia Larsen

The original print version of this article was titled:
"Parting Shot: Melissa McGill"

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