Venice 2018 – FREESPACE is the manifesto of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice. From here the curators of the Cruising Pavilion in Venice at Spazio Punch – Giudecca [Map] – explore the disappearing rituals taking place in the promiscuous architectures of ‘sex-dungeons’. Vistors are invited to move through and explore – cruise, technically speaking – a flat pack maze containing glory holes and artifacts from famously secretive Berlin nightclub Berghain.
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Cruising usually describes the quest for sexual encounters between homosexual men in public spaces. But it cannot be reduced to neither men nor gays. This sexual practice generally takes place in public sites like parks, toilets, and parking lots, or in dedicated establishments like bathhouses and sex clubs.
“Cruising is the illegitimate child of hygienist morality. Relegated to the realm of depravity, it feeds off its most structuring disciplinary features.” Explain curators Pierre-Alexandre Mateos, Rasmus Myrup, Octave Perrault and Charles Teyssou.
“In the bathrooms built for cleanliness and the parks made for peacefulness, and also through the figures of the policeman and the flâneur, the modern city is cruised, dismantled and made into a drag of itself. The dungeon becomes playful, the labyrinth protective, and the baths erotic.”
But cruising places are actually going extinct. The contemporary combination of Grindr, Tinder and other (often sex) dating apps replaced gay venues with private condos. “Geosocial apps have generated a new psychosexual geography spreading across a vast architectonic of digitally interconnected bedrooms, thus disrupting the intersectional idealism that was at play in former versions of cruising. Today, class, race and gender might be as regulated by the erotic surface of the screen as the architecture of the city.”
By featuring contributions from artists and architects, the Cruising Pavilion wishes to highlight the failure to consider Freespace as defined by this edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale, without questioning the hetero-normative production of space itself. “Architecture is a sexual practice and cruising is one of the most crucial acts of dissidence”.
The Cruising Pavilion is produced in collaboration with Spazio Punch. Since 2011, Spazio Punch is a non-profit Venetian organization on the Giudecca Island that promotes contemporary culture through events, exhibitions and talks.
All photos by Louis de Belle – Courtesy of the Cruising Pavilion and Spazio Punch.
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