Venice Biennale Dispatch: Daniel Baker, Getaway 2022

Daniel Baker: Gateway, 2022

Daniel Baker’s preoccupation with the contingent nature of Roma material culture is highlighted in the conceptual artwork Getaway, an installation designed to occupy the public square at the entrance to Eugen Raportoru: The Abduction from Seraglio, & Roma Women: Performative Strategies of Resistance, at Biennale Arte 2022. Getaway is defined as: an act or instance of getting away such as escape. It is also defined as: A place suitable for a vacation. These seemingly contradictory accounts of the term—the speedy exit and the relaxing holiday—combine to conjure a sense of ambiguity, signalling a paradoxical state in which nothing is quite as it seems.

The conceptual installation comprises a shiny vintage caravan, the iconography of which continues to hold great currency in the Roma subconscious, signifying as it does, life on the move in a vehicle that is the envy of all who pass by. As well as symbolising the freedom of life on the road, the vehicle also combines functionality and desirability to embody the core elements of the Roma aesthetic. Here, the iconic object of mobility and habitation both embodies and exemplifies the complexities that underpin Roma visual culture and its value as a site of social and artistic agency. The artist’s interest is grounded in an awareness of the narratives that such objects evoke, as well as their capacity to inform and reflect Roma culture, Roma lives and the distribution of Roma knowledge.

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