14th Venice Architecture Biennale | part 1

Place: Venezia, Country: Italy
La Biennale di Venezia
14th Architecture Biennale
Curator: Rem Koolhaas
Text by Federica Lusiardi, Inexhibit
Photos by Riccardo Bianchini, Inexhibit


14th Architecture Biennale of Venice – Part 1| Monditalia

Differently from the latest editions the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, entitled Fundamentals and curated by Rem Koolhaas, is not focused on the present days panorama, at least as long as we intend it as a selection of architectural projects related to a specific theme.
Fundamentals is an exhibition that, taking the cue from the contradictions produced by the market economy triumph, tries to find the causes that have led architecture to its current state.


The room of peace. The entrance hall of the exhibition, with an amusement park-style false façade.

To manage the complexity of this Biennale, Koolhaas has conceived an exhibition organized in three parts:
Absorbing modernity 1914-2014; is located in the national pavilions at the Giardini and the Arsenale; every of the 66 participating countries was requested to provide its interpretation of the theme, depicting which role modernity has had in defining each country’s historical, social and economical identity in the last 100 years; Elements of architecture is housed in the Central pavilion at the Giardini and presents an in-depth analysis of the architectural language basic elements: walls, pavements, stairs, doors and so on are treated like letters of a common alphabet, adopted by designers at all times and geographical locations; Monditalia, located inside the Corderie at the Arsenale, is a multifaceted portrait of Italy. Various departments of the Biennale, dance, music, theatre and cinema, were involved and requested to collaborate so to present the theme under different point of views.

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It is uncorrect to define Monditalia an exhibition; it actually is a huge stage running along the whole Corderie space of the Arsenale, where contributions by different Biennale’s departments, dance, cinema and music, alternate with architectural case-studies, so forming a cruel but fascinating portrait of the host country. Citing Rem Koolhaas own words, Monditalia is a scan of Italy, taken as a paradigm for the present economical, social and political crisis, but also embodying the creative potentials that are essential for overcoming it.

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Foreground: a frame from “Respiro”, (2002) by Emanuele Crialese is shown inside Post Frontier, a reportage on Europe’s southern boundary.

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The guiding thread of the exhibition is a reproduction, spanning for 316 metres along the Corderie, of the Tabula Peutingeriana, a map of Italy dating back to the V century AD, which forms the frame-set for the Monditalia exhibits.
The exhibition path begins from the southern end of Italy, the island of Lampedusa, and eventually ends with the country’s northern boundaries, the Alps; it includes 82 films, 7 dance stages and 41 case-studies, developed in collaboration with young researchers and designers. The result is a narration of the Peninsula, multi-form and ample due to the different approaches adopted.
The history of the country depicted through the Italian films alternates with surprising dance performances. The case-studies are focused on various aspects which strongly contributed to the current Italian situation. Historical events, economical and social transformations, natural disasters, ambitious public projects that irreparably turned to a waste of money and mismanagement. Such events go along with the tangible creative capabilities by many, which actually built up the recent past and present days cultural richness of the country.

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The large reproduction of the Tabula Peutingeriana running along the Corderie. In the foreground, Italian Ghosts is a reflection on the Italian Colonialism and architecture used as an instrument for the legitimation of power.

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Theatres of democracy. The semicircular hall still is the most adopted typology for discussion and debating chambers. The archetype is the Greek theatre of Siracusa and remains unchanged since centuries. Images of plenary chambers can be seen through peep-holes aligned on a white wall.

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Legible Pompei / Souvenir pile. Incorporated inside translucent resin blocks, materials similar to that found in the Pompei excavations: lava, travertine, terracotta, etc. can be picked up by the visitors as a souvenir. An installation reflecting on the cultural tourism in Italy and a way to think about its contradictions.

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Radical pedagogies: action, reaction-interaction. On a long wall, notes, images and texts are pinned, testifying the educational experiments that, in the sixties and seventies, by criticizing and rethinking its fundamentals, contributed to redefine modern architecture.

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Images from “Architecture of fulfilment. A night with a logistic worker”. This installation depicts the ordinary day of a logistic multinational worker and reasons about the “architecture without persons” of a warehouse seen as a place for new human relationships.

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An installation dedicated to the flood of Florence in 1966

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Z! Zingonia mon amour. The incredible case of the ideal town promoted 50 years ago by the business magnate Renato Zingone together with the architect Franco Negri also tells the fragility of human life in front of social changes and politics.

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Arsenale of Venice
Venice Arsenale Cordioli

The Venice Arsenale medieval dockyard complex is one of the venues of the Venice Biennale, It accommodates core exhibitions and several national pavilions

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