Venice 2010> Has the Biennale Outlived its Usefulness?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Cherry Blossom Pavilion, in the Italian pavilion, one of the increasingly rare examples of architecture at the biennale. (Bill Menking)

The 2010 Venice architecture biennale closed on Saturday—at least for media representatives, as journalists were required for the first time to turn in their press passes and enter as public citizens (tickets, $25). I hated giving up that pass as it allowed me access to the exhibitions both at the Arsenale and in the giardini, home of the national pavilions. Though Venice is hardly a major military installation there are canals in the area that are off-limits to civilians; a water taxi driver informed my group that only a special permit would get us into the canal so I produced my press pass and he said “va bene” and he drove us up the canal. The power of the press! Read More

Venice 2010> Storming the Arsenale & Rem in da Haas

Rem Koolhaas, winner of this year’s Golden Lion, at the Arsenale. (Bill Menking)

Nothing much to report from yesterday, as it was a day of formal openings when very little was in fact open to the press or public. It was mostly a day of introductory speeches by biennale directors and city and government officials. Frank Gehry presented some models, made a few brief remarks, and then everyone headed for the hallway, where we had our first free prosecco and great little appetizers. Journalists and media types stood around asking about where the best parties were to be had in the coming days (more on this later). Read More

Calvino 2.0

Thursday, September 11, 2008

There are no singing nymphs and naiads wandering around—Philippe Rahm seems to have cornered the market on those—but the Penezic & Rogina project in the Arsenale has an echo of Italo Calvino’s invisible city of Armilla, whose only form is tubs and toilets and copper pipes, and whose citizens are the aforementioned maidens. The P & R installation actually kicks it up a notch, and takes in the digital and mechanical systems of a typical house as well, but as far as we know, there aren’t any nymphs in the future, which is a shame, so we allowed ourselves a moment to look back.

Penezic & Roginas Whos Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf in the Digital Era?

Penezic & Rogina's 'Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf in the Digital Era?'

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Gehry and the Ancient Arts

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The three-story timber buttress of familiar forms rising midway through the Arsenale was already pretty impressive on the first day but then a guy showed up and set up shop in the corner to hammer out clay tiles, the 1,000 year old Venetian way, that will ultimately—in two weeks—clad the entire structure.  The process of covering the wood armature in clay is also the first step usually used in making a bronze cast a la the Statue of Liberty. And so naturally we are wondering who’s in the market for a really big Gehry paperweight. 

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