I spent a few days at the vernissage (preview) of the Venice art biennale where, far from the headlining major national pavilions, I found a collateral event that might have been the highlight of the three days. For Catalonia in Venice, the artist Antoni Abad worked with blind Venetians to bring visitors a sensory experience of a visually familiar city.
Abad is creating a sensory map of the city in collaboration with blind and visually impaired residents. Download the specially created app and you can listen to their site-specific commentary. You can also join a free boat tour guided by a blind Venetian who describes their experiences navigating the city — one that is not very accessible, with its dead ends, bridges and sharp drops into water — while passengers wear blindfolds. I took a boat trip and found it quite moving. One of the guides told me that passengers had been ending the tour in tears.
My story about the experience is up now at Condé Nast Traveler.