The Fish Market.

Venice, Summer 2017

In only recent years has Climate Change come to the top of a global agenda but in Venice there has, for hundreds of years, been a concerted effort to combat the rising waters and a sinking city. The causes are many, not least the literal flood of tourists and the daily arrival of vast cruise ships into the heart of the city’s waters.

The Biennale of Summer 2017 included many references to Venice’s plight and SUPPORT, a sculpture by artist Lorenzo Quinn, highlighted this in a dramatic and breathtaking way.


The hand holds so much power – the power to love, to hate, to create, to destroy.’
SUPPORT, Lorenzo Quinn

The resin and fibreglass installation
of one of the sculptor’s small children’s
hands and wrists emerges from the Grand Canal
many times life size and startlingly white
to brace the rose Ca’ Sagredo Hotel –
once a palace where Galileo stayed –
as if to prevent its imminent collapse.

When we arrive on the opposite bank
so you can take photographs the market
has closed, all the fishmongers gone but one
gutting and beheading – his right arm tattooed
with a shoal of fish, his left a death’s head.
The otherwise empty arcades echo
with shouting and barking of seagulls,
herring and black-headed, scrapping and flapping
over discarded fish heads and entrails
among the scattered polystyrene boxes
and the plastic wrapping.

©David Selzer 2017

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8 Comments Add Yours

  1. Clive Watkins

    Well, Sylvia what an intriguing set of photos! Am I guilty of what the literary theorist I. A. Richards long ago called “mnemonic irrelevance” in being reminded of the “calchi” at Pompeii, those famous casts made from the voids left by the bodies of the inhabitants who perished in the eruption in AD79? And the gulls make me think of altogether different birds, the thrushes in Hughes’s poem in his 1960 collection, Lupercal: “Terrifying are the attent sleek thrushes on the lawn, / More coiled steel than living…”? But I always think of his thrushes when observing birds. What a fine accompaniment these images are to David’s poem!

    • Sylvia Selzer

      Thank you Clive. Indeed, the sculpture is reminiscent of the casts at Pompeii. We went there many years ago when it was still possible to touch everything including the calchi. Everything is out of reach of the sticky-fingered tourists now. I don’t usually use David’s poems on my site – a bit too like Webster and Booth! – but these are perfect to accompany the images, I think, and encourage reflection.

  2. kira

    Sylvia I enjoy the photographic work you post on very much and look forward to seeing the photos you take in 2020.

    • Sylvia Selzer

      Thanks Kira! Good for us photographers to share our photos! Sadly, my site was hacked two or three years ago and much of it disappeared. The wonderful Sam Hutchinson, who built the site and maintains it, restored it though there are still images missing – especially those taken in the stories about Africa. It is quite stressful and time consuming to restore those images but I’ll get there eventually. I intend to put up more recent work in good time!


    You have presented the fish market, and its airy pescatorialness perfectly. Those forearms – so like the scales of a fish! And the hands! the hands! Venice a wonderful setting for such audacity. Thankfully you were there to render them immortal. They had gone by the time we visited.

    • Sylvia Selzer

      Thanks John. Ever le bon mot! Sorry the hands have finally gone but glad to have captured them for posterity.

  4. John Chapman

    A city built on logs and hope is unfortunately doomed to failure eventually. Unfortunately this is accelerated by allowing those floating mountains of cruise ships access to the waterways with their massive “wash” just to gain tourist dollars. What a strange decision by the City Management.
    Your great photos show the plight so well but I was shocked to find that the sculptures have gone? Why? Surely not embarrassment?

    • Sylvia Selzer

      Thanks,John, for taking the time to look at my photos and comment – as you always do! People generally have told me they enjoy the stories but are too shy to put up comments on the site. Thanks to other brave followers too!
      Sadly, the great and the good of Venice have, for hundreds of years, been responsible for the slow death of the fabric of this beautiful city. Following a positive and optimistic effort to save the city on an international scale with scientific input and fundraising from the seventies onwards, successive administrations have been undermined by corruption on a grand scale. The damaging effects of Climate Change have added to the catastrophe. The recent Winter rainfall and flooding were the most severe recorded since records began. Only this week, the famous Venice Carivale has been abandoned due to the Corona virus outbreak adding to the misery. Poor Venice.
      The sculpture was part of the 2017 Bienniale and, like all of the art works in the festival, only intended to be temporary. Good that it was, by popular demand, kept in situ until recently.

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