The Great Biennale

The Great Biennale

14th Inter­na­tional archi­tec­ture exhi­bi­tion La Bien­nale di Venezia.
“It will be a Bien­nale of archi­tec­ture and not archi­tects”. Such a state­ment was released many times, as if to sug­gest that for this Bien­nale edi­tion the architect’s ego will be left elsewhere.

biennale 900bis

Rem’s Fun­da­men­tals:
The title, “Fun­da­men­tals”, is clearly telling us that we will be brought back to basics. Archi­tec­ture les­son num­ber 1, to re-learn (or sim­ply to learn) what a lot of archi­tects do not even look at, while study­ing. Any­ways, Rem’s fig­ure is unavoid­able and unde­ni­able due to his bulky pres­ence. He radi­ates ten­sion, he def­i­nitely has ego(ism), cyn­i­cism and a will for delib­er­ate provo­ca­tion. There­fore, the Bien­nale of fun­da­men­tals is Rem’s Bien­nale; dur­ing this edi­tion, only one ego will be on stage.
Dur­ing the last two years, a task force of archi­tects, design­ers, researchers and stu­dents have been fully immersed, at first, in the devel­op­ment of the the­o­ret­i­cal ground required for this edi­tion, and later, to design the exhi­bi­tion inside Corderie and Cen­tral Pavil­ion. More­over, this edi­tion will last six months instead of three; the cura­tor has also given a prices guide­line to national pavil­ions, a theme that should be devel­oped accord­ing to each nation’s con­di­tion. So far, this edi­tion intro­duces many inno­va­tions, ren­der­ing it dif­fer­ent at all costs. To do so, undoubt­edly, ambi­tion and indi­vid­ual ego are the dri­ving forces to say more, to do more, to be more. Per­haps, Rem’s grand finale.
Actu­ally, the Cen­tral Pavil­ion is the locus that will unfold the theme of “Fun­da­men­tals”. The research con­densed in a gigan­tic book about stairs, bal­conies, ceil­ing, floor and so on is a pro­duc­tion of the Har­vard GSD. For two terms, Har­vard stu­dents have alter­nated in OMA’s Rot­ter­dam office, so that Rem could closely fol­low the research devel­op­ment which later became the basis for this edi­tion. Prob­a­bly, Rem knew long before any offi­cial announce­ment, that this would have been his turn to curate the exhi­bi­tion. Quite rea­son­able after the Golden Lion of 2010.
Para­dox­i­cally, the Corderie, which is the space assigned to the cura­tor, is devoted to host a series of 360° events, chang­ing over six months of exhi­bi­tion and involv­ing the other Bien­nales (dance, the­ater and so on). Other cura­tors have been assigned to estab­lish a pro­gram for each theme (cin­ema, the­ater, dance…). In this sense, Rem and his OMA team are real­iz­ing a struc­ture that will absorb the pro­gram­matic stream­line of com­ing months. The Corderie will be filled in with works and per­for­mances of many dif­fer­ent actors, telling us Ital­ian sto­ries about the cur­rent state of the coun­try.
Fun­da­men­tally, many indi­vid­u­als and teams are bring­ing their ideas and efforts to Venice upon Rem’s back­drop, we hope this mul­ti­tude will work as such, in order to pro­duce a knowl­edge that will not be sim­ply serv­ing as one’s ego heritage.

An excur­sus on Moder­nity vs. Iden­tity:
“Absorb­ing Moder­nity” is the theme pro­posed to national pavil­ions. We are writ­ing about it, since there is a great ambi­gu­ity lay­ing in how this topic has been intro­duced to the major pub­lic. Some­times, Rem’s provo­ca­tions sound like as if he is try­ing to fool us around.
Rem presents archi­tec­ture act­ing as part of the mod­ern era­sure, by dis­play­ing it in the guise of its global mod­ern style (OMA’s De Rot­ter­dam among the exam­ples). How­ever, how can he state that mod­ern archi­tec­ture has erased all national diver­si­ties, whereas, one minute after, he is re-assessing that nowa­days, national iden­tity is more robust and vig­or­ous than ever? In addi­tion, what is the role of his prac­tice in the regards of mod­ern era­sure?! Rem does not demys­tify or ban­ish moder­nity since he has sup­ported it in many projects. As for Generic City, Big­ness or Junk Space, he sim­ply brings up cur­rent phe­nom­e­non and he does not clearly take a posi­tion upon them.
The 20th cen­tury is a nostalgia-proof sub­ject. Nobody has nos­tal­gia of this cen­tury” (Rem’s quote from Press con­fer­ence), well, he should try to tell that to a re-seller of 60s fur­ni­ture, maybe that’s the rea­son of his laugh after such a state­ment.
In the end, this is all about Rem’s ambiguity.

Min­ima “Immoralia”:
Once more, “Bien­nale open­ing” means a mass of archi­tects, all busy with the world­li­ness pro­vided by a four days vernissage.
We, at mul­ti­tude, are fairly excited by the upcom­ing grand open­ing of the Bien­nale of Venice. We can’t wait to have our time­lines filled with field reports from each and every sin­gle Archi­tec­ture blog describ­ing all sec­tions of the exhi­bi­tion, the par­ties, the loca­tion, how the city is, itself, an exhi­bi­tion space and how dare you to drink my pros­ecco. It is prob­a­bly the most impor­tant event of this year’s Archi­tec­ture agenda. It might very well be the most impor­tant event of this Archi­tec­ture decade, as far as we are con­cerned, but we won’t con­sider it a vic­tory being caught in a pho­to­graph behind Bjarke Ingels while barely stand­ing, look­ing at Neri Oxman’s behind. If you man­aged to get in the trousers of the per­sonal assis­tant of Sou Fuji­moto, it doesn’t mean that this Bien­nale is the meet­ing point between cul­tures, you just got lucky. If Peter Eisen­mann spilled a beer on your trousers doesn’t reduce the dis­tance between you and him, it just makes you wet.
What we are try­ing to say, here, is that we have the feel­ing that Archi­tec­ture is becom­ing a place to be. It is more impor­tant where you have been work­ing, rather than what you have been work­ing on. Or who you really are! Who cares, after all? These drinks are for free!

Ampli­fier and Mul­ti­tude:
For a forth­com­ing issue of Ampli­fier, we invite who­ever is inter­ested, to crit­i­cally address field reports (pho­tos, tweets, texts, sketches…) con­cern­ing two issues:

1. Biennale’s back­stage and the pro­duc­tion of knowl­edge oper­ated by the mul­ti­tude (actors that all together have thought, designed, real­ized research and exhi­bi­tion spaces of pavil­ions, events and so on);

2. Bien­nale as a place to be rather than a place of exhibition;

As we men­tioned before, each archi­tec­tural blog will show every sin­gle cor­ner of the exhi­bi­tions before one can still step in. Avoid­ing main­stream arti­cles is a key issue, while attempt­ing to unveil two con­trast­ing aspects: work vs. worldliness.

Full press release with Eng­lish translation

Con­ferenza stampa inte­grale con traduzione in italiano

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2 thoughts on “The Great Biennale

  1. Colt Sievers says:

    Great arti­cle on the Finan­cial Times:
    http://​on​.ft​.com/​S​o​5​K6Q
    maybe many of you already read it, but it is worth to share it

  2. Kowalski says:

    I can’t blame those who take part at the bien­nale in Venice, it’s an oppor­tu­nity to exhibit in a great space.. but still, my advice would be to get what you can while you can and get out

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multitude- multitude

on Survey

2015-04-01 13:27:31

[…] the spon­ta­neous responses to the last ques­tion of the sur­vey car­ried out in […]

Conrad Newel

on 12+ h. a day, 6/7 days a week

2015-03-23 18:10:56

@Colt Sievers I will be the first to agree with you on all counts. I would love to read that article. If you ever want to publish it on my blogg please do not hesitate to contact me.

Colt Sievers

on 12+ h. a day, 6/7 days a week

2015-03-23 16:58:10

@Conrad having worked in one of those offices that you mention, I have found your post as much provocative as naive and simplistic. I should make an entire post to explain why... will leave that for later. Thanks, anyway, to keep the discussion alive

Conrad Newel

on 12+ h. a day, 6/7 days a week

2015-03-23 16:45:07

Besides my terrible diction or lack thereof this raises another issue. Should we really feel outrage or sympathy for these interns? After all the ones who can afford to take these kind of jobs are the sons and daughters of the wealthy. What this letter is, is infact symbolic capital and social significance for sale. The rich kid can buy this piece of significance for among other reasons to go to a party and say to his less affluent counterpart, "hey I work for SANAA, or DS+R or whoever. Where do you work again?" Its a status symbol, just like a porsche, or a private jet. Affordable to a selected few that can afford it.

slartibartfast

on 12+ h. a day, 6/7 days a week

2015-03-23 16:33:21

right... irony or sarcasm in non-audible communication... a class of its own.