Blake Gopnik in the Washington Post:
One measure of an artwork’s success might be the time you give to it, especially when there are lots of other things you could do. Surrounded by another thousand or so works of current art, and with the older glories of Venice just a bit farther off, the Dutch pavilion of the Venice Biennale kept me captive for hours over several visits. Aernout Mik, who’s filling it this year, makes art that is too complex to take in all at once and too compelling to pass by.
Mik works at the border between politics and play, reality and drama. His Venice project, called “Citizens and Subjects,” includes a series of video projections of disasters and crises that raises the stakes for what theater means.
One pair of screens shows footage from the news, of such things as illegal immigrants being rescued from the ocean or a wrecked train being hoisted by a crane. Those same screens also present images of emergency personnel pretending to deal with such events, in rehearsal for the real thing. The crux of the work is that it’s not easy to tell when you’re seeing truth and when you’re watching fiction — or rather, real documentation of a staged event.