Bien Venice!

_DSC0087Widely acknowledged as the ultimate exhibition in the field of contemporary arts for over a century, the Venice Biennale has established itself as one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world.

The two major summer festivals that alternate annually for Venice are undoubtedly the Art Biennale and the Architecture Biennale. Both Biennales are universally recognised as the most important art festivals in the world. This year, the highlight is on the architects and there are representatives from 40 countries participating in this prestigious event.

With the Biennale exhibitions mainly held at the Giardini and Arsenale, this year’s event is helmed by renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, with the theme Fundamentals. The theme was chosen by curator Koolhass with the intention to further study how architecture is exhibited around the world and what happened within this century through modernity, continuous political changes, technological developments and such.

‘After several architecture Biennales dedicated to the celebration of the contemporary, Fundamentals will look at histories, attempt to reconstruct how architecture finds itself in its current situation, and speculate on its future,’ states the festival director.

This was also an occasion to revisit and recompose knowledge that may have been forgotten or that have not been discovered to enhance new ideas and generate fresh understanding for sustainability.

Although it is an Architecture Biennale this year, many national pavilions have been erected to showcase collaborating artists and their presentations. This includes digital art, sculptures, photography and installations. This teamwork was further endorsed by the Jury of this year’s Architecture Biennale when both the Korean and Chilean participants won the Golden and Silver Lions for Best National Participations. Both participating architects were working with artists in collaboration.

As this is one of the most important exhibition in the arts world and with this year’s title of Fundamentals, many participants tried very hard to express but it is sometimes hard for the general public to completely comprehend the actual message the participants are trying to relay due to difference of political, culture and education backgrounds.

Bringing together and connecting the significant events in the architecture world for the past 100 years, the United States was smart enough just to present a simple yet convincing showcase of its architectural production abroad and achievements for the past years with its theme of OfficeUS.

The Russians were slightly crowded in their pavilion choosing a booth space exhibition style that tried to squeeze in the participants. On the other hand, the Japanese’s theme of A Storehouse of Contemporary Architecture hit spot on as it made one feel just like walking into a store with the intention to tell the story of unparalleled architectural development by a country that underwent drastic modernization to catch with the Western world.

However, China’s Mountains Beyond Mountains intention of capturing modernity by looking into the framework of its architecture, demands in depth exploration to further understand.

The Malaysian Pavilion with its theme of Sufficiency captured some attention when this small, multiracial country from the East showcased their architectural talents on hanging collapsible cages curated by Dr Lim Teng Ngiom. There were 21 architects and three collaborative artists involved in this year’s exhibition.

Biennale Curator Koolhaas, along with the Harvard Graduate School of Design and many other contributors, had worked on a two-year project, The Elements of Architecture. The project presented at the Biennale explores the fundamentals of our buildings by any architect, anywhere, any time. It is one of the must-see exhibits that is exciting yet interesting.   

This year’s Architecture Biennale will be open from 7 June to 23 November. The trip is highly recommended for those who are somehow related to this field, and for those not involved in the arts, it will be a valuable learning experience in addition to visiting the charms of Venice.

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