May 6, 2019 - November 1, 2019

Red Regatta

Melissa McGill


Artist Melissa McGill Launches Large-Scale Public Art Project on Venice’s Lagoon and Canals Choreographing Fleet of Historic Sailboats in Series of Regattas from May through November

Created with the Associazione Vela al Terzo Venezia and Magazzino Italian Art Foundation, Red Regatta Celebrates Local Maritime History and Calls Attention to the Fragile Balance Between City of Venice and the Sea

Project Commences with Artist Talk and Community Open House (May 8) and Preview Regatta (May 11), with Additional Performances Coinciding with Annual Regata Storica and Regata di Burano.

Sail painting Workshops, March 2019, Video by Giovanni Pellegrini.

Venice, Italy – May 6, 2019 – From May through November, artist Melissa McGill is choreographing a series of large-scale regattas across Venice’s lagoon and canals in a major public art project that celebrates the city’s maritime history and calls attention to the forces of climate change and mass tourism that threaten its future. Unfolding in multiple parts, Red Regatta fills Venice’s waterways with 52 traditional vela al terzo sailboats, hoisted with hand-painted red sails. Bringing together over 250 local partners, Red Regatta is co-organized by Magazzino Italian Art Foundation, presented in collaboration with Associazione Vela al Terzo Venezia, and curated by Chiara Spangaro and project manager Marcella Ferrari.

Red Regatta commences on May 8 with an artist talk and community open house at Ocean Space and a preview regatta on May 11 on the northern lagoon at Fondamente Nove. Additional regattas will sail at various points throughout the duration of Venice’s Biennale until November, including during the annual Regata Storica in the Bacino di San Marco and the Regata di Burano in September. Red Regatta will be visible through vistas across the city and ideal viewing locations can be accessed in an interactive map on the artist’s website.

In conjunction with the regattas, artist-led workshops and public programs developed in collaboration with partners, such as Ocean Space and No Longer Empty, explore the project’s themes in relation to the traditions that have shaped Venetian life for a millennium. Red Regatta is the first artwork to be registered as a Clean Regatta, a program of Sailors for the Sea that mobilizes sailors to protect the ocean through education and activism.

Venice’s vela al terzo were designed with a flat bottom and removable mast to navigate the city’s waterways and have been sailed for more than a thousand years. As the boats glide though the lagoon in unison against the sky, sea, and cityscape, the reds reference forces of life and passion, alarm and urgency, and Venice itself—from its bricks and terra cotta rooftops, to its flag and history of trade in red pigment, to paintings by Titian, Tintoretto, and other Venetian masters.

Details on Red Regatta programming confirmed to date follows below, with additional programs through November to be announced in the coming months.


  • Red Regatta Artist Talk and Open House
    May 8, 2019, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
    Ocean Space, Chiesa di San Lorenzo (Castello 5069, 30122 Venezia)
  • Red Regatta Preview
    May 11, 2019, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
    Route: Bacini – Fondamente Nove
    Viewing locations: Fondamente Nove, from Fondamente Nove vaporetto stop to Ospedale vaporetto stop; Calle Giazzo, from Celestia vaporetto stop to Associazione Vela al Terzo headquarters
  • Red Regatta
    June 30, 2019, 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.
    Route: San Servolo – Poveglia
    Viewing locations: Riva dei Sette Martiri; Viale Giardini Pubblici; San Servolo Island; Lido’s Lagoon waterfront
  • Red Regatta, coinciding with Venice’s Regata Storica
    September 1, 2019, 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.
    Route: Canale della Giudecca – Bacino San Marco – Canal Grande
    Viewing locations: Fondamenta Zattere; Punta della Dogana; Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore; Piazza San Marco and Riva degli Schiavoni; Fondamenta della Giudecca, side of Canale della Giudecca Canal Grande
  • Red Regatta
    September 15, 2019, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
    Route: Burano – Torcello
    Viewing locations: Burano waterfront; Torcello waterfront

Read the full Red Regatta Program Press Release.


Melissa McGill, Red Regatta (Coppa del Presidente della Repubblica), 2018, Unique framed archival digital C-print with pigment, 60 x 36 in. (152.4 x 91.4 cm)

Volunteers painting sail during Red Regatta Workshop at Spazio Thetis. Venice, March 2019. Photo credit: Melissa McGill, Marcella Ferrari, Luca Marella. Image courtesy of the artist.

Preview performance of Melissa McGill’s Red Regatta on May 11, 2019 in front of the Associazone Vela al Terzo on the North Lagoon at Fondamente Nove. Photo Credit: Matteo De Fina