The relationship between Swatch and La Biennale di Venezia goes back to 2011 where Swatch became the main partner and took on a sponsorship role. Of course the title “sponsor” wasn’t strictly fitting to Swatch, given that they are eager to foster an environment of co-creation and participation. Thanks to the open-mindedness of La Biennale that has embraced the Swatch commitment to art and artists, Swatch has showcased the work of Joana Vasconcelos, Ian Davenport and now Joe Tilson – the highlights of the last three editions. Bridging Venice with Shanghai with their Swatch Art Peace Hotel there, Swatch have been able to broaden the audience of the artistic collaborations temporally and geographically.

   Joe Tilson (middle) and Carlo Giordanetti (right) at the Venice Biennale 2019

This year Joe Tilson was the highlight of the Swatch Art Special, which included the launch of the Joe Tilson watch and a site-specific installation at Giardini. Giordanetti was struck by the work of the British pop art icon once when seeing an installation of Tilson’s impactful flags on Regent Street in London. Tilson, now 90 years old, was initially surprised by the proposal to design a Swatch Art Special, but approached the concept with a great deal of enthusiasm, passion and energy. The flags draw a lot of inspiration from Venice itself on many levels–the geometric structure of the pattern, the patina–are reminiscent of Venecian churches and palazzo floors in the iconic Arlecchino character, reveal Tilson’s immersion in his work and creative process. Giordanetti shares with us that Tilson doesn’t have an e-mail account and communicates only by traditional mail with marvellous hand-written letters. “He is a man of immense culture with a strong love for Italy. It’s hard not to ‘fall in love’ with such a pop art icon” says Giordanetti.

Joe Tilson and the Venetian Watch

Over the years, Giordanetti has collaborated with a host of very well-known artists like Kiki Picasso, Moby, June Paik, Spike Lee and Sam Francis. He says that after it was after so many years of working with inspiring and interesting artists that Swatch had decided to create a platform for the freedom of expression in the form of the Swatch Art Peace Hotel. “Nothing is more exciting to me than discovering a new artist and feeling the potential to make him or her part of the Swatch world,” begins Giordanetti. “Our senses are alert and our minds are open to catch that special vibe. It may come in the form of a painting, a video installation, from a big name or a small one, seen at a museum visit or an exhibition–it’s always magic.” he admits. Each interaction is different, so working with artists often follows a unique pattern every time, and this makes Carlo’s job even more exciting and inspiring. “All this makes me–and certainly Swatch, too–emotionally richer and more open to new ideas.”

Coming up next for Swatch is an exciting collaboration with Le Louvre, the most visited museum in the world. “It will be an unexpected way to “enter” the museum and travel through some of its best known masterpieces. We will offer the opportunity to engage into a unique relationship with the works or art and add an element of wit and humour ‘a la Swatch’”. Aside from that the Swatch Art Peace Hotel will celebrate its 8th anniversary–a very meaningful number in the Chinese culture. More will be unveiled soon–so keep your ears open!

Carlo Giordanetti at the Swatch installation by Joe Tilson at the Biennale in Venice 2019