Archipelago-townFrom Cardin to Rem. The Venice Biennale in 2013

End of October 2012. Much like yogurt, the time of the XII edition of the Venice Biennale settore Architettura has expired. The curator, the British architect David Chipperfield, appears to have ac...

End of October 2012. Much like yogurt, the time of the XII edition of the Venice Biennale settore Architettura has expired. The curator, the British architect David Chipperfield, appears to have accomplished something that no one had never accomplished before. For the first time ever everyone seems to be in agreement: the biennale is a disappointing failure. There is no convincing thesis, the invited list of ‘architects’ barely describe the curator’s (ample) circle of connections, the projects shown produce no excitement. Some projects are described in reactionary terms: the dumb rationalism of Jan Kleihues appears scary, on an intellectual more than a physical level.

Even the social part of a program is not up to the usual standard. The biennale is known and appreciated outside of Italy for his social coté, namely an pseudo-cultural excuse to have a good (summer) time in Venice with the possibility of making sexual connections with the opposite (or same) sex. In Italy, the Biennale is appreciated unofficially for the same reason, yet it is officially talked about as a cultural event even thought, the last edition which is occasionally mentioned for its cultural merit, of for having had a influence in the world of culture, is the 1980 edition, or the one organized by Paolo Portoghesi, of all people.

(See a list of people on the following link to my you tube channel to see how this issue is understood.)

Yet, in 2012, the financial crisis severely damaged the social venue and this is perhaps the main reason for the general disappointment, and the general agreement. No woman, many cries.

The new low was perhaps reached by featuring in the catalog a project that seem to be the reverse of what a cultural institution should sponsor: Pierre Cardin’s new found architectural talent. The Italian (turned French) designer appeared to have felt the need, in a senile moment, to literally leave its mark upon the Venice lagoon and decided to designed a 150 meter tall cartoonish tower at its western tip. A Palais Lumiere or, as he puts it, ‘A Livable sculpture.’

Why is such horror, one is entitled to ask, included in the Biennale official catalog?
For a very simple reason: because Cardin is investing one billion dollar and a few (interested) people will profit from it at a personal level.

January 25, 2013. A press conference is organized to mark a significance change in the Biennale policy. Rem Koolhas, already rumored in August 2012 to be the curator of choice for the next Biennale edition, is publicly announced as such.
Koolhaas, introduced as ‘one of the most significant personalities among the architects of our time, who has based all his work on intense research, now renowned celebrity has accepted to engage himself in yet another research and, why not, rethinking.’ His goal is to take a fresh look at the fundamental elements of architecture – used by any architect, anywhere, anytime – to see if we can discover something new about architecture.”
For the first time in its history, the curator will actually have almost two years to produce his own show which, will be officially inaugurated during the first week of June, 2014. This makes the architecture section similar to the art section that traditionally open the same week and last for almost six months.
Even though, no words of excuse is to be expected about the Cardin affair neither from the curator neither the president, this seems to be one of the motives for selecting such a controversial member of the kinetic elite to draw a research edition that, as everyone with a thinking brain would also agree, Will certainly shift the focus of the attention and the sphere of influence of the Venice Biennale, or the most ancient ‘cultural’ institution of this kind around the world.

April 2013. As the frenzy about the Art Biennale which will open in a few weeks is already under way, non news about the Rem biennale is surfing the web…

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