Quinn was selected as the exhibiting artist for the Italian Pavilion at the 54th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale 2011. ‘An artist of such stature and masterly skill was bound to “show up” the city which epitomises art, reducing it to “embarrassed” confusion at the arrival of his “wargame that isn’t”’, commented curator and publisher Cristian Maretti. ‘Gently held up by one hand amid the sea, the work urges us not to forget pain from the past if we would avoid it in future.’
This powerful and provocative installation was positioned across two sites, San Servolo Island and the Italian Pavilion in the Arsenale. In the first stage on the island, a pair of disembodied hands descended to play with a life-size 37 tonne T55 Russian battle tank and huge cast ‘toy’ soldiers. The scenario continued at the Italian Pavilion with a brick wall seemingly blasted by gunfire from the tank’s gun turret next to the simple, emphatically scrawled message, ‘THIS IS NOT A GAME’. Quinn’s commentary observed, ‘Leaders of the world use their armies as if they were some private little toy they can commandeer and destroy as a careless kid would’.
‘San Servolo sneakily presents itself in the role of the wings of a theatre, with two disquieting hands’, writes Franco Bruno. ‘It is a see-saw game between declared pretence and reality in which boundaries become blurred, and Lorenzo Quinn uses it to solicit, though not grab, an attentive gaze. His work This is Not a Game defies all simplistic artistic classification.’