As curator of 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, Rem Koolhas asked to all national pavilions to reflect upon the effect of globalized architecture on national identities.
“On a side this provocation branded as “Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014” deviated the attention from a gimmicky ego-centered archistardom giving space to a more human-centered approach. On the other side, the response of many national participation sounded like a coral strike back or even a refusal of the idea that globalized architecture is actually substituting or compromising national styles”.
Enrico Zilli – Editor of Archipanic
Below a selection of some of the most impressive exhibitions at Giardini et Arsenale that challenged back Rem Koolhas provocation. The whole report of ArchiPanic on national participation in Venice features: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Dominican Republic, Israel, Italy, Korea, Kosovo, Nordic Countries (Norway, Sweden and Finland with Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania), Portugal and United Kingdom. Venice Biennale will be open to the public until the 23d of november 2014. In the meantime, check Thomas Koolhas video project about how is father’s work is perceived the people who live in it.
MODERNITY? Some pavilion as Kosovo or Portugal and Dominican Republic stated that Modernity wasn’t absorbed at all, it was imposed as act of violence or it was assimilated unexpectedly. “Kosovo can be a case study of of erasure of the rich regional urban culture in the name of Modernity. Kosovo has never absorbed Modernity. It has been a synonym of destruction and foreign aesthetics” comment curator Gëzim Paçarizi. Read more about Kosovo Pavilion
Portugal participation consists in Homeland – News from Nowhere, a publication that head-titles “How can we be post-modern without even being modern?“. The pavilion is pulverized, printed and handed out on paper to the visitors in order to make people reflect on Portuguese situation and provoke a constructive debate. “Everything happens in a specific place, with specific persons, in a specific context, it´s not “nowhere”, but we constantly forget that what we sometimes call Utopia is probably the only way to modernity. Without a notion of future there is no modernity” Comment editor and curator Pedro Campos Costa.
The Dominican Republic pavilion narrates the story of a propagandistic international Expo wanted by dictator Trujillo that was celebrated with flamboyance and fireworks and soon forgotten by the rest of the world. After the event and the destitution of Trujillo, the fair site was abandoned and soon repopulated by people who erased the ideals of the tacky modernity promoted by Trujillo’s ego-centererd propaganda. The country debuts at Venice Biennale with the exhibition at Arsenale curated by LAD Laboratorio de Arquitectura Dominicana.
ABSORBING? Relatively young countries as Brazil remarked that in the past 100 years they have been acquiring modernity and used it to build their national identity as they didn’t have any strong architectural heritage to rely on. “Unlike other countries, what we call ‘Brazilian architecture’ is not a legacy of the past” comment André Aranha Corrêa do Lago curator of the exhibition Brazil: Modernism as Tradition. “We absorbed the precepts of modern architecture in the most interesting ways, and this helped strengthen the national identity”.
Israel pavilion features four desert sand-printers that draw 2D maps of single buildings and master plan of cities and neighborhoods. The exhibition keyword is Uburb a neologism that blends the urban and suburban concept and points out an imposed architectural planning of modernity that condensed society in residential one-building neighborhoods sprawled and isolated through out the country. Read more about Israel Pavilion
ABSORBING MODERNITY? The pavilion of Canada is focused on the Inuit communities in Nunavit, the most northerly and remote territory where modernity is seen as a transition from igloos to internet compressed into forty years; here curators question wether architecture, which has largely failed this region both technically and socially, can be equally innovative and adaptive. Read more about Canada Pavilion
The Korean participation is the “First Exhibition of the Korean Peninsula” and shows two opposite ideas of Modernity of a once united territory. Awarded by the Golden Lion, the pavilion responds to Rem Koolhas brief about “Absorbing Modernity” with a political and ambitious exhibition that features 40 works and projects from both North and South Korea. Curator Misuk Cho aimed to proove the potential of a unified country were two extreme ideas of modernity shaped two opposite cultures and architectures in just 30 years.
Our report of Architecture Biennale include also dedicated posts about the Italian Pavilion that is dedicated to the theme of grafting –as a modus operandi of architectural stratification, the British Pavilion that narrates the rise, climax and decline of modernism in the UK from postwar towns and pop-culture and the Nordic Pavilion focused on how Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia took inspiration by the welfare model and architecture of Norway, Sweden and Finland and cooperated to build a post-colonial identity.
Last but not least: the Australian Pavilion with an augmented exhibition all over Venice. ‘The stories of the buildings do not conclusively agree or disagree with Koolhaas’s thoughts on the globalisation of style. What they do say is that Australian architects of today are interested in the notion that architecture is about ideas as opposed to identity or style,’ commented Professor Van Meeuwen director of Felix studio and curator.