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:
    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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