Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, curator of 15th Architectural Biennale in Venice, depicted for this exhibition a picture of an old lady standing on the top of a ladder – this is German archaeologist Maria Reiche overlooking the South American Nazca desert on the photo taken by Bruce Chatwin. The view, she has from the top of this ladder is completely different as of those standing on the ground. She can see not just a stone desert, but figures of birds, flowers and animals shaped by stones.
The exhibition REPORTING FROM THE FRONT focuses on those who try to see what others do not see. The aim of this Biennale is to show both sides – the cultural and artistic dimensions of architecture, as well as the spectrum of social, political, economic and environmental issues. REPORTING FROM THE FRONT is about those who are trying to expand the horizon and face challenges such as segregation, inequality, periphery, natural disasters, housing failure, migration, illegality, crime, transport, environmental pollution, participation of the population and others. This is the front line for architects who try to create better environment and can report about their successful stories.
Indeed, this year’s Biennale is different.
There are many international architectural exhibitions, but the Venice Biennale has a special significance, not just because it takes place in this magical city. At the opening of the Biennale, the architects of all generations from all over the world meet each other. For almost half an year, discussions, meetings, conferences, student educational programs and other related events, architects and curators speak about their work, share experiences and ideas on contemporary architecture, profession, the world where they have to work. You can learn a lot here and it’s interesting!
In the Biennale’s main exhibition REPORTING FROM THE FRONT participate 88 architects from 37 countries and there are 62 national pavilions. Unfortunately, Georgia is still not here. However, the processes in our country have a direct link to the above-mentioned topics.
All exhibitions at the national pavilions are financed by the state or private organizations. The competitions have been announced in all countries to reveal curators and participants. For example, the Spanish pavilion, which is a winner of the “Golden Lion” was supported by several ministries and donor organisations. The projects have been selected by curators on the basis of open competitions.
Participation could help us to understand that the time has come for us to go up the ladder from which we can see the real view of our built environment. We are part of this world and participation in events of a such importance could be very useful. What are we doing? All we have at this moment is a lost opportunity. Georgia had a unique possibility to keep “Kamikadze Loggia” from the 55th Art Biennale – for many reasons – neither before nor after any Georgian exhibition have been successful as this one. It was a simple and very fascinating wooden structure in the Arsenale area. What did we do? – We ruined “Kamikadze Loggia”, we canceled the completed competition for the previous Architectural Biennale (2014), we have forgotten this year’s Architectural Biennale at all. We had a lot to say! And the next Biennale will come soon again.
It’s time to look at the cultural policy of our country from the height of a ladder! We need to set the right priorities – what is of first importance and what is not. Many of us try to climb high stairs. Unfortunately, it’s usually just to look down from the top and not to widen the view, as Maria Reiche does on the beautiful picture chosen by Aravena.
Besides the main exhibition and national pavilions, biennale is accompanied by 3 special projects –
1. “Reporting from Marghera and other Waterfronts” – analyzes the project of Urban Regeneration of the Big Industrial Port Area (curator S. Recalcati). When asked about the specific benefits of Architectural Biennales for Venice, Paolo Baratta mentions this project.
2. Special exhibition “A World of Fragile Parts” (curator B.Cormier) is product of collaboration of Architectural Biennale and Victoria&Albert Museum. It explores the possibilities of production of museum copies in the digital era, asks many questions in the context of preservation of the cultural heritage etc.
3. Exhibition “Conflicts of an Urban Age”, (curator R. Burdett), shows how the cities have changed over the last 25 years.
Due to the developments in Georgia during the same period, the last project is especially interesting for us.