The artist William Alexander and the curator Miguel Mallol, launch a crowdfunding campaign for a performance during the Venice Biennial

by Brit Es Magazine

On 17th of March, its was launched a 40 day crowdfuning campaign to cover the production costs of the performance ‘The Cardboard Gondolier’ .. It will take place in Venice, on 10th of May, in San Trovaso Canal. It is a symbolic place, the site of the most famous gondola workshop in Venice, called “Squero”. The artistic action will be curated by Miguel Mallol.

William Alexander is an artist who has worked for more than 10 years with cardboard. This material which evokes childhood inventiveness, is used to question our contemporary society, which has become lobotomised and disconnected with meaning. He has built a car, tram, underground tube-train, tractor tyre and his famous ice cream van, which have already reflected the spectacle of the everyday. The gondola, which he sailed with success last year in Stratford upon Avon, will stretch this work to new limits.

Construction of the carton gondola by William Alexander

Construction of the carton gondola by William Alexander

Cardboard is a symbol connecting childhood and adulthood, we all remember sitting in a box, pretending it’s a car or boat. It can therefore become a thing of time travel, especially when the cardboard car or boat is made with a higher degree of precision, and seen amongst what we generally accept as the real world.

William’s reflection goes back to a time when he witnessed a crowd controlled by the child’s imagination. Children sitting on their parents shoulders had been enraptured by the big screen. The adults were complicit. They wanted a return to innocence. At the time he was reading Guy Deboard’s, ‘Society of the Spectacle , and felt a need to disrupt this crowd, and that a cardboard simulacra might awaken people from their everyday routine, and somehow leave them questioning their own reality a little more.

Building a cardboard gondola and taking it to Venice has two purposes. Firstly it continues to create unique social interaction, taking the viewer back to their memories of the first time they imagined Venice, the first time they saw a reproduced image of the city, be it Monet’s vision or Canaletto’s, a simple moulded tourist plate, or a Wall’s Cornetto advert. We know the power of the symbol of the gondola as a representative of Venice. This project draws the attention back to the craft of the gondola, while challenging the tourist expectation of the Disneyfied Gondola experience. 

Construction of the carton gondola by William Alexander

Construction of the carton gondola by William Alexander

Secondly we look to place the project amongst a more critical art audience, and make the most of the gathering of the art world in Venice in the week leading up to the Biennale. Will the charm of the cardboard vehicle and it’s artist Gondolier be embraced by the Venetians, or dashed to the bottom of the canal? It is a test for the project and for Venice!

Avon Boating will assist with the gondola’s journey to London where it will be in situ at Forest Gate Arts for 1 month in an exhibition “Playing In Reality”, showing a number of Alexander’s works. Please join us at the London Launch party where you can meet the Cardboard Gondolier and see the gondola and the paintings that are available at a special price during the Kickstarter campaign.

William Alexander has been a London based artist for 12 years. But when painting he likes to imagine he is not in London. This he finds to be far cheaper than flying. Two strands of work have dominated his practice, painting and performative cardboard constructions. Both were encouraged at UCE BA Fine Art 1998 – 2001. Ideas of magical realism, and balancing traditional perspective with the modernist flat plane, have fuelled his Paintings. Combining personal, remembered, and imagined visions, which are discovered and resolved in the paintings construction. With the cardboard work he is trying to wake people from their adult spectacle.


Venue: Rio di San Trovaso (Venice)
Date: 10 th  of  May 2017
Hora: 6 pm
Event: William Alexander will take his cardboard gondola from the bridge where “Il bottegon” is located until next to the Squero of Venice. It could be extended bringing one or two guests on board.

Link to contribute to the project:

More info:


You may also like

Leave a Comment