Monday, May 29, 2023

#BiennaleArchitettura2023 - 18th International Architectural Exhibition - Central Pavilion - Giardini

"Architects have a unique opportunity to put forward ambitious and creative ideas that help us imagine a more equitable and optimistic future in common”.
Lesley Lokko

#BiennaleArchitettura2023 - 18th International Architectural Exhibition
Central Pavilion -  The Laboratory of the Future

The Biennale Architettura 2023 - until November 26 - entitled The Laboratory of the Future is curated by academic, educator and novelist Lesley Lokko and chaired by La Biennale di Venezia president, Roberto Cicutto.  The exhibition is organised in six parts and includes 89 participants, over half of whom are from Africa or the African Diaspora and for the first time ever, nearly half of participants are from sole or individual practices of five people or less.

“Central to all the projects is the primacy and potency of one tool: the imaginationIt is impossible to build a better world if one cannot first imagine it. Threaded through and amongst the works in both venues are young African and Diasporan practitionerswhose work engages directly with the twin themes of this exhibition, decolonisation and decarbonisation, providing a snapshot, a glimpse of future practices and ways of seeing and being in the world. (…) We have deliberately chosen to frame participants as ‘practitioners’ – and not ‘architects’ and/or ‘urbanists’, ‘designers’, ‘landscape architects’, ‘engineers’ or ‘academics’ because it is our contention that the rich, complex conditions of both Africa and a rapidly hybridising world call for a different and broader understanding of the term ‘architect’."
Lesley Lokko - curator

Olalekan Jeyifous

In the wake of the Pan-African movement and African decolonization, imperialist infrastructures devoted to economic exploitation and resource extraction are rapidly dismantled, while local environmental groups throughout the continent consolidate into what is known as the African Conservation Effort (ACE).
Barotse Floodplain’s AAP imaginary lounge is ACE/AAP

To repair the damage done to the African continent’s ecoregions by former colonial powers, the African Conservation Effort (ACE) applied Indigenous knowledge systems to developing advanced networks that synthesised renewable energy and green technologies. Chief amongst these was the All-Africa Protoport (AAP).

AAP is now a network of sprawling low-impact, zero-emissions travel complexes situated off the coasts of major ports throughout the world. Until recently, there were twelve AAPs located in the following cities: Lagos, Mombasa, Port Said, Dar es Salaam, Durban, Salvador de Bahia, New York, Los Angeles, Port-Au- Prince, Barranquilla, Havana, and Montego Bay. A new AAP complex completed in 1972, unlike its coastal counterparts, is embedded somewhat controversially in the Barotse Floodplain in Zambia’s Western Province. The Barotse Floodplain’s AAP imaginary lounge is ACE/AAP presented in The Laboratory of the Future.

photo - Andrea Avezzu - courtesy - La biennale di Venezia

Silver Lion Award
Promising Young Participant

Olalekan Jeyifous, won the Silver Lion Award for the multimedia installation that explores a worldbuilding practice that expands public perspectives and imaginations, offering visions of a decolonized and decarbonized future.

Kere Architecture Diebedo Francis Kere 

The entire continent of Africa is responsible for less than 4% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. This startling fact gives pause. A moment in which to look and feel. To consciously create goals in line with needs determined from within. To find modes of building that do not replicate loss but rebuild ancient knowledge. To find knowledge that is not worthless but rather constitutes an invaluable wisdom that can fuel hope. To do just that, Counteract celebrates West African architectural prowess of the past, takes stock of today’s situation and nudges us towards a different approach. It is a viable and fantastic vision of architecture. 

Kere Architecture considers materials and skills required to build buildings that are not too hot or cramped, dwellings that existed in a time before the current status quo. Kere Architecture re-centres the value of this embedded knowledge, proposing it as a ‘counteract’ to the chase for modern architecture.

Native(s) Lifeways
Hood Design Studio
Walter Hood - Alma Du Solier 
Michael DeGregorio - Paul Peters 

As shown in the exhibition we propose a new Arts Lifeway in the creek of PhillipsSouth Carolina, enmeshed with grasses and reeds. Basketmaking pavilions evince their logic of production and ornamentation along a sweetgrass walk connecting the communal landscape.  Large rice-toting baskets that men used to harvest inspired the columns, while the ornamental basketmaking of children and women influenced the roof and awnings.  Constructed of renewable wood harvested from the overgrown, the houses and walkway speak to a continued occupation of native landscape.

The African Post Office
Sumayya Vally - Moad Musbahi

As a space for sorting and processing, the African Post Office brings together different ‘posts’ from across the continent and the larger lagoon of Venice. The project develops an intercontinental bureaucratic apparatus using the simple technology of the post. It operates in two dimensions: as a spatial reinterpretation of the post as a pole, and as the infrastructural mechanism of a postal network that considers routes of prior passage.

Experienced both visually and aurally, a language and related index of the ‘post’ is developed, building on the logic of minarets and totems, two sociocultural technologies with far-reaching
African influence. The field of posts of various thicknesses and heights have individual markings and attachments. Some hold flags of nations that no longer exist, and others are simply attachment points waiting to be moored.
Moad Musbahi and Sumayya Vally

Land Narratives - Fantastic Futures
Urban American City (UrbanAC) - Toni L. Griffin 

There is an undeniably dystopic past at the core of every African American’s history. However, this narrative is not exclusively situated in pain. Within every Black space and body that holds this trauma, there exists an element of the fantastic that breeds resilience and creativity. Between the milestones of Juneteenth and the Civil Rights Movement, Blacks in Northern America migrated to segregated cities and built prosperous economies, producing extraordinary Black wealth, technologies, and culture. However, as Sylvia Wynter describes, our value has always been “measur[ed]… according to the single yardstick of technoscientific accomplishment that is defining the contemporary West’s [and White] ‘mechanical perfection’.”

Land Narratives — Fantastic Futures
 exposes the lost histories and unrecognised imaginations of creativity born in spite of the segregation and land vacancy found in ‘Black Belt’ neighbourhoods of Chicago’s South Side. It develops new, multiple, and wayward ‘yardsticks’ for identifying and working with previously unmeasured cultural values.

Parliament Of Ghosts
Ibrahim Mahama

Parliament of Ghosts was conceived for The Whitworth art gallery in Manchester as part of the Manchester International Festival in 2019. The work originally addressed historical ideas around materials and issues of colonial exploitation, but it was subsequently transformed into the architecture of Red Clay in Tamale, Ghana. The set-up allows objects and ecosystems to coexist with architectural form, from a conceptual, philosophical, and physical point of view. Memories are excavated through the placement of non-human forms while young audiences are encouraged to acquire new perspectives on their relationship to architecture. 

The space was inspired by both the residue of the Gold Coast Railway infrastructure and abandoned modernist buildings from the 1960s Nkrumah’s Voli-ni in TamaleIn The Laboratory of the Future, a series of questions are posed. How do we restore memories to which access was denied? How do we excavate the past in order to build new futures?

Ibrahim Mahama and Lesley Lokko

Textural Threshold Hair Salon: Dreadlock
Softlab @ PSU Felecia Davis 

Forming a space between two words, ‘dreadlock’ is a word of uncertain etymology. For English speakers, this is clearly a portmanteau, two words making one. Dread, fear, anxiety about the future, but also awe or reverence. And the word ‘loc’, Germanic in origin, which refers to a curl or strand of a person’s hair that curls together, or the property of matted hair, tangled beyond untangling, knotted forever.

This installation roves from knowledge and language that the weaving hand knows into computational and digital knowledge systems. There are experiments with locking techniques related to felting in textile practice and digital combing/sorting to make a hybrid threshold. The digital threshold space in the installation uses machine learning trained on a designed database of global hair textures. The physical threshold is a knitted isacord passage made of felted dreadlocked material.

Basis with GKZ - Kibwe Tavares - Zenna tavares

This work is a narrative exploration into counterfactual pasts and hypothetical futures, fusing the mediums of film, sound, and computation to transport audiences beyond the constraints of the present. Djali explores storytelling and visualisation of hypothetical worlds, narrated from the perspective of an artificial intelligence present in them. Experientially, Djali is interactive, building on advances in natural language processing, computer vision, and computation to simulate our human ability to mentally explore possible and even impossible worlds with our mind’s eye.

Zenna Tavares and Gaika Tavares

Adjaye Future Labs
Adjaye Associates Sir David Adjaye OBE 

The Adjaye Futures Lab features a field of physical models paired with narrative films. The selected projects showcase narratives that emerged outside of the dominant canon, such as the Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library and its precolonial inspiration, and the Edo Museum of West African Art/Creative District, which aims to reconstruct, resurrect, and reposition ancient Benin City as a powerhouse of cultural output. These are narratives that speak to an ongoing quest to define, amplify, and encourage diasporic connection and cultural production, expressed through the Newton Enslaved Burial Grounds and Museum project and the Africa Institute in Sharjah.
Collectively, the selected projects speak to notions of placemaking, identity, memory, and meaning as central to the design process with the ambition to create structures conducive to positive forms of human transformation.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Venice - San Giorgio Maggiore - Le Stanze del Vetro - Bohemian Glass: The Great Masters - Exhibition and Party Photos

Le Stanze del Vetro  
Bohemian Glass: The Great Masters 
Exhibition and Party Photos

At Le Stanze del Vetro on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore the exhibition - Bohemian Glass: The Great Masters - curated by Caterina Tognon and Sylva Petrova - until November 26 - is organized in collaboration with the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague and recounts the emancipation of Bohemian glass from its traditional categorization as applied and decorative art, as well as its use in the creation of influential abstract sculptural works in Bohemia after the Second World War.
Vaclav Cigler - Square with Spiral - 1970s

Curators Caterina Tognon and Sylva Petrova with David Landau

The exhibition features the works of six leading major artists of contemporary glass sculpture, leading figures in the Czech glassmaking scene who lived through turbulent societal upheavals because they had been born in the Czech lands in the 1920s and 1930s. These artists endured the largest-ever military conflict in Europe, followed by a brief respite of freedom and democracy, only to be plunged into totalitarian domination in 1948, which they could finally shed to return to standards of European democracy after 1989. It is remarkable that, despite all the negative effects caused by the absence of freedom and prosperity, they managed to overcome these challenges and grow their art in the broader context of the development of certain artistic disciplines in erstwhile Czechoslovakia. These were artists who initiated and nurtured a relatively “new” mode of glassmaking, “artistic glass” which was not intended for mass production. The works they created were unique, as in the case of traditional artistic disciplines such as sculpting or painting, while drawing on the specific characteristics of glass.

Vaclav Cigler with Michal Motycka - Golden Raft - 2007
Vaclav Cigler - Sphere - Rainbow Egg - 2019

Luca Massimo Barbero, Marie-Rose Kahane, Giorgio Vigna and Giorgio Mastinu

"Glass is the material of light...An exclusive and irreplaceable material... Glass is equally material as it is immaterial, equally real as it is unreal, equally distinct as it is self-transcending, questioning the experience of our senses.  Glass is a material both programmed and with a life of its own."
Vaclav Cigler
Bench - 2001 - Spring - 1992

Marino Barovier and Renata Codello

The exhibition presents the late-1960s designs of visionary installations and architecture and, even more, sophisticated optic crystal artworks of great impact in terms of purity and minimalism of Vaclav Cigler - Vsetiin 1929. 
Vaclav Cigler - Blue Pyramid - 2020

Alessandra and Alessandro Zoppi with Alvise Orsini

Vaclav Cigler - Drawings - Relations - Architecture - 1995-1999

Stefano Baccari and Cristina Beltrami

"Water stopped, to please the human eye.  The substance is crystal clear and has become synonymous with purity."

Rene Roubicek - Prague 1922-2018 - Miluse Roubickova - Prague 1922-2015 - whose work is also on show - are two artists who were a couple in their private life, yet independent in their artistic output. Roubicek’s - above - abstract glass pieces are an expression of vitality and serenity, but at the same time they portray the contemporary creative way with which the artist faced a painful and difficult life during the years of the Communist regime.
Promenade - Pinacotheca Series - 2003

Rosita Missoni and Angela Missoni

Rene Roubicek - Heads - 1977

Photo Enrico Fiorese - Private collection - Venice - Multicolor hand-blown glass
Courtesy Le Stanze del vetro

Rene Roubicek - Little Cosmos - 1960s

Rene Roubicek - Columns -1964-1967 - Untitled - 1990s

Michael Craig-Martin

Maria Grazia Rosin

Gianluigi Calderone and Paolo Diaz de Santillana

"The values of existence largely consists in how fervently we are able to live them.  The value of our human life is dependent on the values within us.  People create their own human world.  It holds that which we put in it."

A characteristic narrative trait of Miluse Roubickova’s production is a representation of the female world that is far ahead of its time: through bouquets of flowers, trays of pastries, balls of coloured wool and jam jars, all rigorously made of glass, she represents all the women and their specific domestic world.
Miluse Roubickova - Blossoms - Blue -1991 - Amber - 1970s 
Yellow and Red Bouquet - 1991

Miluse Roubickova - Banquet -1960-2012

Maurizio Mussati

Paola Marini, Pier Luigi Pizzi and Barbara Foscari

"Glass exists in various forms. Its dominant qualities are transparency, brilliance, radiance.   It is richly extravagant. A hot material, like glowing lava.  But glass can also be seen as mysterious, intimate, as the profound contemplation of a simple shape.  Or these are moments when we suppress the qualities of glass almost entirely and transform it into a force that expands into excessive experience, into expression, into enigmatic explosive spheres..."

The works by Vladimír Kopecky - Svojanov 1931 - are strongly performative and site-specific pieces. He is well known for his use of transparent industrial glass as a “canvas” for abstract paintings of great chromatic breadth.
Vladimir Kopecky - Desire - 2021

Vladimir Kopecky - Corridor - White - Red - Blue - 1976-2017

Elisabeth Royer and France Thierard

"The twentieth century ended, and this fact forced us to analyze what was in the past, where we succeeded and where we failed.  This is why it is very important for every detail of these historic Czech endeavors in the field of modern glass to be recorded and assessed..."

Special attention is devoted to the couple Stanislav Libensky - Sezemice 1921-2002 and Jaroslava Brychtova - Zelezny Brod 1924–2020 - who from the 1940s dedicated themselves to research and experimentation with glass casting or open-mould casting. Significantly, the casting method was to become synonymous with modern Czechoslovakian glass. For over sixty years, they investigated its technical possibilities and came up with works that were majestic in size, as well as remarkable in their purity of colour and transparency.
Stanislav Libensky - Jaroslava Brychtova - Installation

Stanislav Libensky - Lying Angel - 1999 - T-Space - 1999
Stanislav Libensky - Jaroslava Brychtova - Lying Angel - 1999-1920

Jean Blanchaert

Stanislav Libensky - Jaroslava Brychtova - Horizon - 1995-2006

The show closes with photographs by Josef Sudek - Kolin 1896–1976 - from the Glass Labyrinths series, taken within the exhibition Contemporary Bohemian Glass which was held in Prague in 1970 at the time of the 5th congress of the AIHV – the Association Internationale pour l’Histoire du Verre. By sharing his remarkable point of view, Sudek – often referred to as “the poet of Prague” – re-interprets the intrinsic relationship between glass and light in the works from this important, historic exhibition. Finally, the exhibition features five films produced between the 1980s and the present day, describing the unique creativity of the artists whose work is showcased. 
Josef Sudek - Glass Labyrinths Series - Photographic Installation

Jean-Michel Ribettes

Nina Zugni Tauro, Leslie Hennessy, William Hennessy and 
Rosella Zorzi

Al Fresco Lunch
A delicious lunch was served in the Palladian cloisters of the 
Fondazione Giorgio Cini

Adele Re Rebaudengo, Jane da Mosto and Giovanni Rubin de Cervin Albrizzi

Camilla Purdon, Olinda Adeane, Ingrid and Mimi Todhunter

Alma Zevi and David Hrankovic

Marco Arosio

Gian Battista Poggio and Rosa Barovier

Anna and Antonio Dei Rossi

Francesca Nisii

Gianpaolo Babetto and Daniela Ferretti

Valeria Lepore and Michela Cattai

Caterina Tognon and Gabriele Pimpini



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