The Fall Of The Rebel Angels

  • Location:
    The Venice Biennale, Castello 1610/A,, VENEZIA, 30122, IT

The Fall Of The Rebel Angels: A satellite exhibition that represents a beautiful story of war in the heavens. Image: The Singularity By Tom Estes at The Fall Of The Rebel Angels, courtesy of the artist

“Or maybe it's just that beautiful things are so easily broken by the world.”
― Cassandra Clare, City of Fallen Angels

Exhibitions are always a challenge. However, if one chose to curate an exhibition, Venice would certainly be a near perfect destination. Venice is one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. The Venice Biennale is a high date in the arts calendar and equally one not to be missed. This year is also a very special 120th anniversary for the Biennale.

The Fall Of the Rebel Angels is an artist led satellite exhibition which opens in a historic Venetian palazzo, conveniently situated between Arsenale and Giardini, at the 56th Venice Biennale.

The title represents a beautiful story of war in the heavens, the battle of good and bad, with fallen angels, rebel angels, superfreaks and demons. This most magnificent and powerful yet disquieting story was visualised magnificently by both Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel among many others. Painted in 1562, Bruegel's depiction of this subject is taken from a passage from the Book of Revelation (12, 2-9) and reveals the artist's profound debt to Hieronymous Bosch, especially in the grotesque figures of the fallen angels, shown as half-human, half-animal monsters.

Bruegel presents these devils as a domestic nuisance, an infestation. The "war in heaven" is a hygiene operation. The task of St Michael, the skinny golden knight, and his fellow loyal angels in white robes, is the kind of disgusting, necessary job that might confront any countryman or town dweller – getting rid of a plague of vermin, beating the things out, driving them away. Falling from grace, they have lost their angelic natures and turned into a menagerie of yucky, hybrid critters and beasties. Bizarre, absurd, unpleasant things, they seem neither powerfully dangerous nor deeply evil. They are essentially ridiculous. It is a most unromantic embodiment of sin. Who could be tempted by a devil half-made of seafood?

At first it seems unlikely but Milton's fallen angels have grandeur and dignity in their defiance. They have ranks and echelons. They have some sort of human form. Bruegel's fallen angels are an appalling shower.

"The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet, and of the Devil's party without knowing it." That was William Blake's view of Milton's Paradise Lost. Is the same true of Bruegel – a true artist, and on the Devil's side?

According to the press release the exhibition of The Fall Of The Rebel Angels (2015) does not explore, follow or define any particular topic or theme, neither does it enforce any standpoint or high minded idea. It is rather a plural narrative, and one solution, for a particular time and particular place. On this occasion it is centered on risk rather than comfort- home to a multiverse of disquieting thoughts and impressions.

The Fall Of The Rebel Angels includes, work by 111 emerging and established artists from many different backgrounds, at different ages and stages of their practice with different motivations in play who have all embarked courageously on this journey of unknowing. The existence of diverse and competing interests is the basis for a democratic equilibrium, and this instance is crucial for the obtaining of goals by individuals. Curator of The Rebel Angels exhibition, Vanya Baloge states:

"We are the only international artist led exhibition at Biennale this summer and for that reason only it is worth a pick. The only artist led exhibition curated by a transgressing alien featuring 112 magnificent rebel angels from Italy, Israel, USA, Croatia, Holland, Czech Republic, Germany, China, UK, Spain, India, Republic Of Ireland, France and Serbia. It will showcase works on the smaller scale in mediums of sculpture, video art, painting, print, photography and performance, all of it converging in the 4 rooms of the historic Venetian palazzo, situated short distance from Arsenale. It is important that artists initiatives of this type continue unabated and are preserved via the process of fast movement and exchange. This show is a different proposition in the context of Biennale, which is incessantly driven by capital and its manipulations.This exhibition points to a different direction. Maybe a utopian one."

In this case an attempt was made to create two situations. One temporary, impermanent which has ensued inside the palazzo and the other in print which would age and ferment over time. The exhibition is accompanied by 128 page limited edition catalogue featuring some visual exclusives collated for this special occasion. The printed matter is inspired by the 1968 Catalogue Of Biennale and gives a version and perspective of the now, of the present. This unique publication is designed, edited and produced in close collaboration with Rebel Angels and designed at Bath Spa University guided by Rupert Bassett and graduate graphic communication students.


However, Demonization is the rhetorical tactic/propaganda trick of Hatemongering by dehunanising an opponent or enemy, claiming that they are utterly evil and undeserving of moral regard. Demonization and Hatemongering is historically associated with the worst political movements, ones that enrich and empower the hatemongers while spreading poverty and misery, ones that sing of freedom while destroying tolerance and civil rights. Those who embrace the hate are putty in the hands of the artful, flattering hatemonger, believing what they're spoon-fed, regardless of evidence. Addicted to their hate, they reliably return for fix after fix, swelling the hatemongers' wealth and power.

It turns out hate does two very scary things to the human brain. Hate is powerfully, addictively "fun " and it shuts down reason. People in hate's grip accept or reject information based on whether the hate addiction is rewarded. Intellect plays no part. Those who do this are unaware of the difference. Hello, *Ditto*head.

Ideologies of hate popular during the Great Depression plunged the world into a nightmare of death, destruction and genocide. For forty years after World War II hate was marginalized in Mainstream America. Postwar conservative media was dramatically different from the hate-spewing Fox/Limbaugh variety. People of all political stripes and income tuned in to William F. Buckley's show, Firing Line, dictionaries in hand, for the pleasures of vigorous civilized debate between liberals and conservatives. However, a recent poll showing how high percentages of American Republicans cling to irrational beliefs is not surprising. It is the natural result of the rights' conscious choice over the last few decades to use dehumanizing hatred as its principal tool for recruiting and manipulating its followers.

The Nigerian, Okwui Enwezor, curator of this years Venice Biennale enttitled All the World's Futures sums it up nicely:

"The ruptures that surround and abound around every corner of the global landscape today recall the evanescent debris of previous catastrophes piled at the feet of the angel of history in Angelus Novus. How can the current disquiet of our time be properly grasped, made comprehensible, examined, and articulated? Over the course of the last two centuries the radical changes have made new and fascinating ideas subject matter for artists, writers, filmmakers, performers, composers, musicians. It is with this recognition that the 56th International Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia proposes All the World's Futures a project devoted to a fresh appraisal of the relationship of art and artists to the current state of things."

For the most primitive of contemporary American conservatives Demonization extends to claiming that their political targets are actual demons. What Baudelaire said of Goya is also true of Bruegel: "Goya's great merit consists of making the monstrous plausible. His monsters were born viable. Nobody has managed to surpass him for a sense of the possible absurd. All these contortions, these bestial faces, these diabolical grimaces are pierced with humanity." Bruegel's monsters, more monstrous than Goya's, have life burgeoning in them– yelling, writhing, growling, colliding. The struggle of wild, revolting devils against lean, dainty, tidying angels, is the kind confrontation Bruegel is often drawn to: fat vs thin, gluttons vs prudes. He's not quite of the Devil's party, but he can certainly feel with both sides.


If you are late to the party you cordially invited to the closing down event of THE FALL OF THE REBEL ANGELS @ Castello 1610/A starting at 6pm on Wednesday 24th June.

The Rebel Angels will host a series of performative events, outdoor projections and an angelic seminar / discussion featuring number of participating artists who will be present on the day and bring the show to close. The Rebel Angels will conclude the proceedings with a late after hours party VENICE WHICH IS ALSO A DISCO in a secret location.

The Fall Of The Rebel Angels Artists ~
Alice Herrick + Pascal Rousson + Laura Hynd
Gordon Faulds + Dallas Seitz + Nerys Mathias
John Plowman + Birgit Jensen + Mark Woods
Franko B + Sian Kate-Mooney + Cedric Christie
Agnetha Sjogren + Loukas Morley + Gavin Turk
Hedley Roberts + Rebecca Scott + Vanya Balogh
Danny Pockets + Lee Maelzer + Jola Spytkovska
Tomaz Kramberger + Danielle Hodson + Jim Bond
Gzillion Artist + Susana Sanroman + Rekha Sameer
Glen Fitzy Fitzpatrick + Sonja Engelhardt + Max Sudhues
Maria Jose Arceo + Emanuel Fanslau + Robert Barta
Joanna McCormick + Tiziana Mandolesi + Dean Todd
Sarah Sparkes + Richard Ducker + Paul Sakoilsky
Jordane Yarden Gaudenzi + Jim Racine + Bella Land
Sarah Doyle + Patrick Morrissey & Clive Hanz Hancock
Valerie Driscoll + Garry Doherty + Maria Teresa Gavazzi
Lili Ren + Ashley Scott Fitzgerald + Andie Macario
Stephen Hall + Tom Estes + Jude Cowan Montague
Slobodan Trajkovic + Elena Muti + Thomas Behling
Ibby Doherty & Charlie Weathley + Toni Gallagher
Rona Smith + Shuby + Maslen & Mehra + Steve Smith
Inesa & Barrington De La Roche / Dark Theatre
Lorenzo Belenguer + Roger Clarke + Liz Sheridan
Marisa Polin + Hugo Von Hugo + Taline Temizian
Michael Petry + Rebecca Feiner + Stefan Draschan
Gonny Glass + Jonas Ransson + Darren Coffield
Eva Raboso + MC + Ernesto Romano + Ray Gange
Roberto Ekholm + Marie-Louise Jones + Spizz Energi
Julia Maddison + William Angus-Hughes + Louise Gibson
Tracey Moberly + Martin Sexton + Fiona Haines
Vanja Karas + Sooz Belnavis + Thomas J Ridley
Becca Quirk + Bob Lawson + Paulina Otlylie Surys
DJ Roberts + Paul Gildea + Susan Schulman + Aly Helyer
Alex Cepalovic + David Brian Smith + Michal Cole
Paul Coombs + Negin Vaziri + Geraldine Swayne
John Stephens + Francesco La Porta & Tommaso Bagnati
Birgitta Hosea + Thomas Draschan + Alexis Harding
India Roper- Evans + Anne Robinson + David Brock
Samuel Brzeski

Kindly supported by
Bath SPA & University Of East London

For ltd edition catalogue, press release
and further info email, txt or call:
0044 / 07587454613