The Croatian Pavillion – Venice Biennale 2018

The Architectural Biennale 2018 is titled FREESPACE. The international exhibition explores the essential qualities of architecture, including materiality, modulation of the space, how it influences movement and emotions of its users, revelling the embodied power and beauty of architecture.

 

Biennale Architettura 2018 FREESPACE in Venice
Biennale Architettura 2018 FREESPACE in Venice

 

The Croatian pavilion, located in the Arsenale, is called Cloud Pergola – the architecture of hospitality. It is a collaborative site-specific installation crossing the boundaries of Architecture through collaborations in Art, Engineering, Robotic Fabrication, and Computational Models.

The exhibition is structured through an interplay of three interventions: Cloud Drawing by Alisa Andrašek in collaboration with Bruno Juričić, To Still the Eye by Vlatka Horvat, and Ephemeral Garden by Maja Kuzmanović.

Bruno Juričić, the curator, took the exhibition as an opportunity to express that we are at a new moment in architecture, when technology not only affects novel physical objects, but also new extensions and cross-collaborations. In recognising the active participation of nonhuman forces in events and understanding that the agency of space spawns beyond human, it propels the need to create a “space of hospitality” for new complicities, new complex ecologies of human and non-human assemblages, algorithms, data structures. In such “landspace” the role of boundaries, either physical or non-physical, is not any more to enclose space, but rather to form tissue for osmotic exchange. This enriching influence is broadening the range available to architecture of materials, formal values, artistic references and social engagements. As such, provides a new ground for addressing the notion of “design ecology” in the twenty first century.

 

Cloud Pergola: The Croatian Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Biennale
Cloud Pergola: The Croatian Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Biennale

 

The Cloud Drawing installation by architects Alisa Andrašek and Bruno Juričić uses computational models, robot fabrication and big data, as mediums to create a new kind of spatial structure—an n-dimensional microstructure that brings into dynamic relation natural forces and human intervention.

We had a pleasure to talk with Alisa Andrašek, creator of the Cloud Drawing installation. For the past two decades Alisa has been researching how we work with complex systems in the context of built environment, using new resources like big data. She believes this should change how we construct the environment we live in and has been looking into algorithms, artificial intelligence and robotic construction like carbo fibre structures and as in the case of Croatian pavilion, 3D printing. The following conversation is slightly edited for clarity.

“There was an article in The Economist (17th Aug 2017) stating the construction industry is the least efficient in the world. If we look at how the buildings are constructed today, while there are small improvements in some systems, the fundamentals have been here for over 100 years. Despite the evolving science, new understanding of the world, of matter, robotics, machines and technology, I don’t really see very prominent kind of change – so this (the Croatian pavilion, note by the writer) was mainly to question how we build.”

The bio-degradable plastic structure weighs around 280kg, which makes it the lightest structure built at this scale – 3.3m tall, covering an area of ~58m². It is light, yet strong, its three columns swirling in counter directions reinforcing its structure.

“In 3D printing, in theory, you can control every speck of dust – where you put matter, what kind of matter. We can design using computational physics, simulating not just compression and tension but also other physics in structures like friction, viscosity. 

However, for this year’s Croatian pavilion, we were very constrained with time and had to work with a certain maximum number of cells. Therefore, I decided to use a different algorithm which is coming from biology. This year’s Croatian pavilion is taking an organisation of a swarm that you find in a school of fish or a flock birds. Observing how these organisms self-organise and swirl governed the arrangement of strands in the structure. ”

 

Cloud Drawing by Alisa Andrašek in collaboration with Bruno Juričić
Cloud Drawing by Alisa Andrašek in collaboration with Bruno Juričić

 

Cloud Drawing by Alisa Andrašek in collaboration with Bruno Juričić , To Still the Eye by Vlatka Horvat, and Ephemeral Garden by Maja Kuzmanović.
Cloud Drawing by Alisa Andrašek in collaboration with Bruno Juričić , To Still the Eye by Vlatka Horvat, and Ephemeral Garden by Maja Kuzmanović.

 

To the question why she thinks change is very slow in construction industry Alisa replied:

“I think the construction industry is used to doing things in a certain way. I often talk about high resolution, how we connect micro resolution of material science to macro resolution of very large systems, whether they are buildings or large landscape or cityscape system. With big data we can now actually connect these different orders of scale directly – but I am unsure, how much the structural industry is currently using this. I believe more could be done if we bring more science into it.”

She continued to expand on the topic of sustainability and our duty to the planet to build efficiently:

Our planet is in a lot of trouble and we need to take it seriously. Imagine, if you could build very large spanning roof structures that are 10x lighter, yet equally strong – it is significant. Current buildings are at least 10-times heavier than they could have been if you look at the laws of physics. Certain natural systems we see are built with less matter but more information to give much higher performance.”

However, Alisa said she is seeing a response, a gradual implementation of ideas – a progress since her research started. First to respond and understand her goals were artists and scientists.

“Architects were resistant, but young generation of architects is really on board.”

Moving to Melbourne shifted her focus towards the industry to use the knowledge she has gathered and drive the progress through application.

 

Cloud Drawing by Alisa Andrašek in collaboration with Bruno Juričić , To Still the Eye by Vlatka Horvat, and Ephemeral Garden by Maja Kuzmanović.
Cloud Drawing by Alisa Andrašek in collaboration with Bruno Juričić , To Still the Eye by Vlatka Horvat, and Ephemeral Garden by Maja Kuzmanović.

 

The structural realisation of the pavilion was led by Arup, the globally renowned engineering consultancy. Henry Unterreiner and Peter Lenk worked closely with Bruno and Alisa in order to realise their vision. The main responsibility was to engineer the pavilion and guide the design process of it given the tight time constraints for design and 3D printing. In addition, Arup contributed by organising workshops, gathering all the different parties spread around the world and helped with the assembly of the fragile pieces on site in Venice.

According to Henry the most challenging part of the design was dealing with the large number of elements (~200,000) in the 3D structure, on top of current limitations of the material and printing process. In order to understand the load path through the lattice structure, the team developed/scripted their own tools. Peter Lenk added:

Simple rules of thumb were derived following first principles, prototype testing and FE analysis undertaken and subsequently given to the architects to inform their geometry. We were able to create digital space based on mathematical principles and transform it from the virtual space to our material world with reduced human intervention.”

 

Croatian Pavillion. Picture by Giovanni Zemella
Croatian Pavillion. Picture by Giovanni Zemella

 

Standing underneath the light structure gives a feeling of movement and flow, of a space that is not confined or suffocating. The perforated and swirly structure creates an experience through a game of shades and shape, making the space feel alive.

 

Words and Pictures by Eva Babič

Like a glass of water – Lee Mingwei at the 57. Venice Biennale

“Like a glass of water”

The artist Lee Mingwei tells us about his participatory installations for 57th Venice Biennale.

A tiny woman politely invites you to a private garden, a young man mends damaged clothes with colourful threads. In the chaotic Biennale these simple pieces are like portkeys in a busy muggle street (this metaphor is just for Harry Potter fans): if you know where they are, they could carry you in another magical world. Lee Mingwei’s world is quiet and poetic, a place where strangers take care of you and share with you very moving moments. The conceptual performer, born in Taiwan in 1964 and now based in Paris and New York, is one of the most engaging contemporary artists. As in his 2 works shown in this year’s Biennale, his poetic is mainly expressed through one-to-one participatory projects that create connections and trust between strangers.

At the Giardini, the atmosphere in the Scarpa Garden is exalted by When Beauty Visits: a host invites a chosen guest to sit on a simple wooden chair and invites him/her to meditate for few minutes. The host then returns bringing an envelope, containing the story of someone visited by beauty (he will explain this later, in the interview), that the participant is asked to open only after first-hand experiencing that encounter.

For the Mending Project, at the entrance of the Arsenale, next to a multi-coloured web of sewing threads, a performer is waiting to mend fabric objects that the visitors bring. This very vintage gesture is a tool to begin an intimate conversation with the participant and the mender. Exactly the opposite of what a tailor does, the act of mending is not done to hide the damage but to celebrate the repair and the exchange happened meanwhile

If you’re planning to visit the Biennale, remember to bring a damaged garment and become part of the art!

On July 7th, 2017, Elisabetta Zerbinatti had the chance to interview the poet of participatory installation, Lee Mingwei:

The artist Lee Mingwei performs “The Mending Project” (2009-2017), Installation view at Taipei Fine Arts Museum, 2015, Collection Rudy Tseng, Photo courtesy of Taipei Fine Arts Museum
The artist Lee Mingwei performs “The Mending Project” (2009-2017), Installation view at Taipei Fine Arts Museum, 2015, Collection Rudy Tseng, Photo courtesy of Taipei Fine Arts Museum

First of all: why the curator Christine Macel chose you for her Viva arte viva Biennial?
I really don’t know! We should ask her.

Well I see some connections, but I was wondering whether she told you the reason or just said “I want you”.
I know she saw my piece Sonic Blossom and was very very excited, so she wanted me to do that in the Portico area, outside the the Main Pavilion at Giardini. However, that’s a performance where a singer offers to a spectator a gift of a song, so for acoustic reasons it couldn’t be done open air.
Then she proposed to do it only for the opening week, but I always thought that if a performance work is dedicated to a Bienniale it has to last for the whole period.

Is that because during the opening only art workers would see it?
Yes, there are quite a few performances this year that, after the first two weeks, are just falling apart. To me this is a very elite’s way of doing things and I often have questions about an artist being a celebrity. There’re always people asking “Is important that is you doing the mending in the Mending Project?”. Absolutely not! What is important is that it is a stranger who is doing something for you. I never advertise the time when I’m going to be there, because it doesn’t matter, it really takes away the sincerity of the work. Sometimes I go and do it, but I never tell people who I am, in fact quite few people understand the person that is mending their clothes is Lee Mingwei. Usually people don’t know whether the artist is a man or woman, sometimes even that he is asian. And that’s perfect.

The assistent Adrian during “The Mending Project” (2009-2017), Corderie dell’Arsenale 57th Venice Biennale, 2017, Photo by Elisabetta Zerbinatti
The assistent Adrian during “The Mending Project” (2009-2017), Corderie dell’Arsenale 57th Venice Biennale, 2017, Photo by Elisabetta Zerbinatti


In fact, my T-shirt was mended by one of your assistants and we had a very nice sharing. However, he told me that I was nearly the only one that brought something on purpose for that piece and had an emotional connection with the cloth. Is this a problem for your piece?

It’s not a problem. When it was first done in 2003 it was for a commercial gallery in New York, therefore every day I got only 2-3 people coming. It was on the second floor and usually people didn’t know about it; at that moment, I realized I could do embellishment, it doesn’t need to be mending, because many people would come and say “Wow this is great, but I don’t have anything that needs to be repaired”. Obviously, people don’t go around with damaged clothes! So jokingly I used to answer “I have a scissor to cut a hole if you want!”, but then I just offer them to do a decoration and make them sits in front of me while I do it.

Because it’s the exchange that is important.

Yes, it’s all about intimacy between strangers and creating that tension by repairing someone’s second skin which is the cloth. For me there needs to be a tension to make a work an artwork, otherwise it is just an activity. Instead when I share an extremely intimate moment with a person I just met a second ago, that brings everything to another level.

“When Beauty Vists” (2017), Scarpa Garden Giardini 57th Venice Biennale, Photo by Elisabetta Zerbinatti
“When Beauty Vists” (2017), Scarpa Garden Giardini 57th Venice Biennale, Photo by Elisabetta Zerbinatti

How about When Beauty Visits? I know you said that you don’t look for inspiration, the ideas just come to you, but did they arrive after you visited the garden? Was there an encounter with that space?
Actually, when Christine [Macel] asked me to do a studio visit in Paris, she was very clear she wanted 2 projects and that one was a new commission. She said: “I have the perfect space for you: The Scarpa Garden”. I love that place, it has always been my favorite in the Biennale; after looking at all those amazing works, it’s a space for me to rest, it’s a sanctuary. So I told her that I’d wanted to do a project there with beauty, on how each of us encounters and remembers it. At the time, I didn’t really know how to do it, only later on I realized it needed 3 stages: 1) to collect stories about beauty; 2) the participatory piece happening in exhibition space and time; 3) when people open their letters after encountering beauty, in their own space and time. I also realized it was for a Bienniale and there most of the works are very loud, exciting, colorful and active, but this is really not my aesthetic. So I told Christine that it would have been a very underwhelming and quiet project. And she loved it.

The performer Sandy offer the envelop to a partecipant during “When Beauty Vists” (2017), Scarpa Garden Giardini 57th Venice Biennale, Photo by Elisabetta Zerbinatti
The performer Sandy offer the envelop to a partecipant during “When Beauty Vists” (2017), Scarpa Garden Giardini 57th Venice Biennale, Photo by Elisabetta Zerbinatti

Well I loved it too! So in the third part you want people to encounter beauty in real life, what do you mean by that? What’s an encounter with beauty?
It’s the exercise that each person has to do for themselves, if they want to, to determine what beauty is for them. For me it’s enough for this person to have this idea in mind and think “I’m looking for beauty”. This person becomes beautiful, because is making himself available for beauty. For me the stories that people read when they open their letters are quite moving, but it depends on each of us. Some people might find it just a beautiful story and some people may read it and cry a lot; it depends on you and on the situation you are in.

It’s really subjective.
Indeed, I always say that my art is like having a glass of water: if you’re not thirsty is not interesting, but if you are that water is everything to you.

Let’s keep talking about your idea of art, you have chosen a very particular subject for your Artistic Practice’s video: a silent sky. Since it was meant to show how artists create, how is it related to your way of making art?
That is the view from my bedroom in my parents’ place in Yangming Mountains [Taipei, Taiwan]. When I’m there, every night I go to bed and every morning I wake up with the most beautiful landscape ever. When I made that video I told myself “I’m gonna shot a 3 minutes video and whatever comes into that’s exactly what I’m gonna give”. I filmed the mountains outside my window and toward the end, in the last 20 seconds, there was a beautiful hawk that came out, wheeled around and then disappeared.
That says everything about my work: is all about faith and chance.

Artistis Practises: Lee Mingwei (2017)

Then, considering the Bienniale in genaral, there’s another Taiwanese artist: Hsieh Tehching. What do you think about his work? Did you know him?
I’ve studied him actually! In university, he is the only Asian performer I ever studied, even before Yoko Ono. I have huge respect of his work, it’s really something that marked that type of endurance practice, involving the body and sense of time. It takes really a unique person to not only think of a project like that, but also do it. I could never ever do even 1% of what he does, he is absolutely mind-blowing! I’m very proud that Taiwanese Pavilion has Hsieh Tehching as this year’s artist.

Apart from Hsieh Tehching, while studying was there any other artist that made you say “Ok I wanna be this kind of artist”?
Not really, in 1995, when I was studying, there wasn’t really the idea of social practices, although there was already people doing it like Suzanne Lacy, but people didn’t know there was a category for that.
I just knew I wasn’t good at drawing nor at making objects, but I loved talking to people and being engaged socially. Probably if I had a second life I would have been a social worker or a psychologist.


But you knew you wanted to be an artist.

Well actually in Taiwan I never knew there’s such a profession called artist! My father, my grandmother and my cousins were all doctors, so I just thought “I’ll be a doctor”. However, after 4 years of training, I understood that it wasn’t what I wanted. If a doctor does something wrong someone may die, but if I mess up a show it’s ok, three months later people will forget about it. Also, I wanted to be in a place that celebrate originality and freedom of expression. I think that as artists we have the privileged opportunity to be a special voice in society and in people’s life. And how to use this voice is up to us.

Interview by Elisabetta Zerbinatti

The Venice Biennale – 15th International Architecture Exhibition – Opening

On the 26th and 27th of May the 15th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice opened the doors of the halls and rooms of the Arsenale, with what appears to be a new mission, of a more concrete and humanist architecture in action as a tool of social and political life.

Stiamo ammirando la preview del padiglione del Belgio! #biennalearchitettura2016 #LaBiennalediVenezia #architecture #igersfvg @valeercole

Una foto pubblicata da ? ???Constraint Magazine (@constraint.mag) in data:

No longer just an exhibition for professionals only, or exposure for architects and artists, but international opportunity for dialogue and to have a comparison of strong and compelling themes related to architecture. “You have to speak to the audience,” says Paolo Baratta, the Biennale president “to all possible decision-makers and agents of the actions with which it realizes the space of our lives, individually and as a community. If the architecture is the most political of the Arts, The Architecture Biennale can only recognize it.”

Representing the Biennale, the curator and Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, chooses in this regard an evocative image: the archaeologist Maria Reiche, the lady on the scale that reaching the summit can take advantage of a wider horizon and thereby conquering his “expanded eye “, a differe vision and one that is more complete, almost a look at the optimistic future and eager for positive change.

archeologa Maria Reiche, la signora sulla scala che arrivando in cima può sfruttare un più vasto orizzonte e così facendo conquista un suo “expanded eye”
L’ archeologa Maria Reiche, la signora sulla scala che arrivando in cima può sfruttare un più vasto orizzonte e così facendo conquista un suo “expanded eye”.

The themes that want to deal with “Reporting from the front,” the title of the Biennale this year, have been deliberately extended and no longer are they only concerned with art and culture, but range from issues related to new migrations, quality of life, the right to urban space, to the suburbs, to talk about pollution, traffic, waste and environmental sustainability.


In addition to the 64 pavilions of countries from around the world, these important issues will be addressed in various shows (Three pavilions dedicated to special projects: Reporting from Marghera and other Waterfronts, A World of Fragile Parts, Urban Age), events that will throughout Venice and Meetings with architects-authors dedicated to the public once a month, for the entire duration of the Biennale, to “share knowledge and exchange experiences.”

For the Gardens we would like to point out:

Pavilion of Spain, with its exhibition Unfinished has won this year’s Golden Lion, a must visit.

SPAINLAB – Cada Loco con su Tema – Presentation Video from SpainLab on Vimeo.

Pavilion of Denmark with the exhibition Art of many and the Right to Space, a pavilion set up with projects of more than 70 Danish architectural firms. They want to make the architecture something really special, and give evidence of a deep social commitment (in Denmark there is a movement for the house that seeks to ensure equal access to a housing at reasonable prices). Take a walk in the pavilion of scaffolding, ladders, and see up close all 130 interesting projects put on display.

Exit Utopia, Gellerupparken
Exit Utopia, Gellerupparken

Pavilion of Belgium with the Bravoure exposition, for the message it brings to our attention, “because in times of scarcity imagination is in danger. While the imagination is precisely the opportunity to find bargains in scarcity. Bravoure through scarcity is BEAUTY. It is an appeal to consider the universal dimension of architecture as the art of thinking by doing. ”

 BRAVOURE, Filip Dujardin, untitled from series Fictions, 2007
BRAVOURE, Filip Dujardin, untitled from series Fictions, 2007 via

What not to miss the Arsenal:
Turkey, Darzanà: Two Arsenals, A vessel. Visit it because the last galley Bastarda created in the pavilion is incredible. Ship in actual size made entirely with waste materials found in the old arsenal of Istanbul and brought to Venenzia, to suggest a new Mediterranean connection.

Darzanà. Foto di Cemal Emdem
Darzanà. Foto di Cemal Emdem

Singapore, now considered one of the most livable cities in the world, at the Biennale with his installation of raw glass lanterns Space to imagine, Room for Everyone. You can walk through a room lit by lanterns made of glass off the man’s height ceilings that create an almost mystical effect. They represent the “Homes of Singapore”, a photographic journey with images collected over a period of three years to portray the diversity, culture, individuality, creativity and colors within the tenements.

Impression of the image lanterns at the Singapore pavilion (© Red Bean Architects)
Impression of the image lanterns at the Singapore pavilion (© Red Bean Architects)

Now Sarajevo: People’s museum, to reach the Hall of Sarajevo you will be ferried to the channel there as Charon, and just for that it deserves. The exhibition highlights the changes of a post-war Sarajevo (Arsenal North, Tesa 100, collateral event, until the 1st of July).

URBAN-THINK TANK & BAIER BISCHOFBERGER
URBAN-THINK TANK &
Baier Bischofberger

Data on the Architecture Biennale 2016

  • It is the largest international architectural event in the world with over 60 pavilions
  • It takes place from May 28th to November 27th, 2016 in Venice (Giardini and Arsenale in particular)
  • The first Biennale of Architecture in Venice took place in 1980
  • This year’s theme is reporting from the front
  • The curator of this 15th International Architecture Exhibition is the Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena
  • Major prizes awarded this year: the XV Biennale Golden Lion awarded to the Spanish pavilion curated by Iñaqui Carnicero and Carlos Quintans; Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement “for his attention to the community” assigned to the Brazilian Paulo Mendes da Rocha; Golden Lion for best designer at the Paraguayan architect Solano Benitez.
  • More info devoted to the Biennale are available on the website: www.labiennale.org/it/architettura/

Sarah Lucas, “I SCREAM DADDIO”, British Pavilion, Venice Biennale (IT)

Visiting Venice Biennale is hard work, but the ludicrous moments pay it all. One of these moments is given by Sara Lucas, in the British Pavilion. At the entrance we’re greeted by a giant yellow resin penis, standing on an antropomorphic figure, then the joke goes one with some plasters of the lower part of female bodies smoking cigarettes with their holes.

Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015, Photo by Cristiano Corte © British Council via

This is provocative for sure, but not enough to be offensive. The pavilion is furnished with desks and chairs (Ready-Made references?) and a supply of SPAM (the British pop-art has SPAM, not Campbell soup).

Sarah Lucas, Octopus Spam Plinth, British Pavilion 2015, Photo by Cristiano Corte © British Council via

The resin sculputes are crawling on the ground looking like long tailed pets

All these non independent elments recreating a ghost of a domestic enviroment inhabited by the smoking plasters and by the resin humanoids with the standing penises.  The resin sculputes are crawling on the ground looking like long tailed pets, suggesting that everyday life is a crowd of freudian displays.

Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015, Photo by Cristiano Corte © British Council via

More HD Pictures at Sadie Coles

SARAH LUCAS
Address: British Pavilion, Giardini di Castello 30122
Exhibition dates: 9 May to 22 November 2015
Opening times: 10am-6pm Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Mondays.
Vaporetto: Giardini