From May through November, artist Melissa McGill is choreographing a series of large-scale regattas across Venice’s lagoon and canals in a major public art project that celebrates the city’smaritime history and calls attention to the forces of climate change and mass tourism that threaten its future. Unfolding in multiple parts, Red Regatta fills Venice’s waterways with 52 traditional vela al terzo sailboats, hoisted with hand-painted red sails. Bringing together over 250 local partners, Red Regatta is co-organized by Magazzino Italian Art Foundation, presented in collaboration with Associazione Vela al Terzo Venezia, and curated by Chiara Spangaro and project manager Marcella Ferrari.
Red Regatta commences on May 8 with an artist talk and community open house at Ocean Space and a preview regatta on May 11 on the northern lagoon at Fondamente Nove. Additional regattas will sail at various points throughout the duration of Venice’s Biennale until November, including during the annual Regata Storica in the Bacino di San Marco and the Regata di Burano in September. Red Regatta will be visible through vistas across the city and ideal viewing locations can be accessed in an interactive map on the artist’s website.
In conjunction with the regattas, artist-led workshops and public programs developed in collaboration with partners, such as Ocean Space and No Longer Empty, explore the project’s themes in relation to the traditions that have shaped Venetian life for a millennium. Red Regatta is the first artwork to be registered as a Clean Regatta, a program of Sailors for the Sea that mobilizes sailors to protect the ocean through education and activism.
Venice’s vela al terzo were designed with a flat bottom and removable mast to navigate the city’s waterways and have been sailed for more than a thousand years. As the boats glide though the lagoon in unison against the sky, sea, and cityscape, the reds reference forces of life and passion, alarm and urgency, and Venice itself—from its bricks and terra cotta rooftops, to its flag and history of trade in red pigment, to paintings by Titian, Tintoretto, and other Venetian masters.
McGill is an interdisciplinary artist based in New York who creates ambitious, large-scale, site-specific art projects, and works in a variety of media, including photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, sound, light, and immersive installation. Her work connects viewers to overlooked histories and traditions, explores the conversation between the visible and the invisible, and heightens awareness of our surroundings.
Mazzoleni is proud to support Melissa McGill and Red Regatta.