Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Trolling around the 13th Venice Biennial of Architecture

This phrase from the Belgian Pavilion in Venice, curated by AWJGGRAUaDVVTAT, perhaps best sums up the current architectural affairs. Architecture has a mission, and it has to somehow be related to economics. 
 "No More Play" could have been a better title for this edition of Venice, rather than Common Ground. No more fancy starchitecture, no more "look at me" buildings, maybe no more buildings at all.

Herzog and deMeuron must have missed the phonecall from Venice, and insisted on presenting their latest and fanciest, of course in typically fantastic objects and clever presentation through newspaper articles. I think it was some kind of concert hall.

 Valerio Olgiati gave good proportions to a rather banal idea, of the common ground of references shared between architects. (Here I was thinking that architects nowadays scrolled through their references like thumbnails in a valley of jpgs.

San Rocco had the prettiest display of them all, a table full of interesting looking models, super clever and diverse, objects that blurred the line between found and designed, just as it should be. Oh and it was something to do with collaborations.

Dubai had a catalogue to give away and large arch projections of desert beach landscapes, easy on the eyes.

Chile was all about a salt mining town somehow destroyed by it's own economy, I think. I have the catalogue, promise to check.

5 young architects bought a house in Detroit for $500! then they proceeded to do their thing in the house, creating a collage in progress, in which they lived and work in.
 Over at the Italia (central) pavilion a rather out of the blue Piranesi project.
 MVRDV had a clever "farmville" type proposal but with spectacularly out of date graphics. Somebody fell asleep on their Windows 95

REM on the other hand was spot on as usual, with a re-evaluation of 8 post-war public sector architects, in a cool photomural installation. Would have been nice to have a take on these buildings, rather than just a look.

Somewhere in the central pavilion, a treasure trove of casabella and domus archives, not scanned but in real life paper, complete with yellowing ads and articles that never made it to the compendiums and anniversary editions. 

If only I could have spent a week in there.
 Over at the Spanish pavilion, Enric Ruiz Geli's Cloud 9 posse presented their very funky El Bulli foundation. I wonder if the resemblance to Pizza Hut is accidental, or?

 elsewhere at the spanish, some techie green stuff (wait, wasn't this two biennials ago?)

One of my total favorites was Israel, which began as a museum-shop type of installation, where you could buy Yasser Arafat toy figures and little Bible notepads and cute 3D prints of oil barrels. Walking up, each of the objects assumed their position in the narrative of how Israel and all it's problems and conflicts came to be.
including a hard look at orthodox settlers and all. Somehow the combination of ultra-pop museum shop and hardcore politics seems like a very current take on the state of the world.

USA pavilion was all about urban activism and grass roots solutions to local problems, a manual for running your city. 

Nordic Pavilion was more or less a collection of worldwide architectural cliches re-performed by local architects, and I dont mean this in a good way. The little bunny had to close it's eyes.

Japan had an ace pavilion as usual, with Toyo Ito organizing his younger disciples in a effort to provide architecture to the Tsunami stricken areas.

the team, which included hot favourite Sou Fujimoto, did not sign their work, but anonymously contributed to a pool of great looking solutions (they also all looked the same).

houses that appeared to be made of fragments of houses combined with tree trunks.
stacks of roofs and flowerpots

and stairs and roof and flowerpots

and houses that look like rocks and flowerpots, though I couldnt help but think that people in a moment of distress just need an ISOBOX to call home. Nevertheless Japan was awesome as usual.

Another moment of grand coolness was the German Pavilion, where handsome and clever Kostantin Grcic installed a very MEMEoid space of large images with short text and these old looking rusted platforms.  "Oh these are the planks that Venice uses during Aqua Alta, we just borrowed them for the installation and will give them back in December. I didn't want to design an object for this, I prefer to use what exists." 

Those were perhaps the most contemporary words I heard during this trip.
on another level of coolness, Caruso St. John architects had their own Grindr profile trolling around Venice

Belgian Pavilion, as noted before, was all about how to reconfigure the EU into a sustainable business model, curated by AWJGGRAUaDVVTAT (I cannot stop saying this)
the presentation was a little dry
but when you notice the single family home stuck on the back of a supermarket chain, all acquired a new gravitas (or maybe this was just my reading).

Over at the Greek Pavilion, a clever hand-drawn model from AREA

bedrooms in the city describe it's population, and their means (deca)

Aristide Antonas presented a set of printouts and portfolios of recent work, cleverly reflecting the minimum budget given to participants (ouch)

our maximal to the point of illegibility contribution TROLLCASINO went way over budget Greek style, but we had fun making it, even if the subject was the current sad state of Athens.