1998, Frankfurt Bookfair. I saw a shopping trolley come around the corner, laden with books and pushed along by an enthusiastic young Italian in a burgundy velvet suit. He introduced himself as Gigi, with a company called Westzone. After a vivid exchange, I was handed his card and asked to call when next in Venice.
So I did, arriving for the Biennale in 1999. However the call didn’t go through. A few days on, there was a big party at Palazzo Pisani Moretti in honour of Gary Hume who was representing Britain that year. Angus Fairhust and his band ‘Low Expectations’were playing, Pauline Daly dancing,... I ended up chatting with my friend Christoph Schifferli – book fiend, collector, curator – on the balcony overlooking the landing stage, watching people arrive, leave, there was a steady flow below.
Time somehow eclipsed while talking on the balcony. To our big surprise when we returned inside, the party had not only ended, but there was absolutely nobody left at all. We couldn’t believe it, we’d been watching the jetty and not realized. We had no idea where we were in Venice, or how to get around in the first place.
Rather at a loss I went to get my jacket from the cloakroom. Out of the countless empty carousels came, ricketyrack, my jacket... and one more! I felt someone stand by my side. Turning to my right, there he was, no-one other than... Gigi. The reason why he hadn’t answered his phone he said, was that he’d dropped it into the canale.
Gigi, man and boat, our saviour, what a relief. Motoring towards town we quickly grew in numbers. Gliding through the black waters in the dark, at every stretch of land more desperate shadows appeared waving against the nightly sky. By the time we reached Harry’s Bar there was 12 of us crammed onboard and the edge of the boat dangerously aligned with that of the water.
At the 2001 Biennale Gigi was more selective and turned to dropping boat guests he deemed unsuitable (albeit in daylight). One unsuspecting art journalist from a major Italian newspaper was left far out somewhere on the Lido ... ‘he works for Berlusconi!’
In memoriam — Uscha Pohl
Trolley New York: Gigi at VERY UP & CO in Church Street, 2002-2007. Sharing the VERY home, gallery, office, desk, life. 2004 saw the VERY Trolley London incarnation of our collaboration and home-work-share in Redchurch Street.
Gigi Giannuzzi lives on through the legend he created, his unrelenting oeuvre,...
Photos Sarah Shatz