Let’s party like it’s 1907!!!

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Friday, September 12, 2008
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The Belgians avoided the politics and gravity that many of the installations are putting front and center, and their pavilion is a fantastic break. On its surface—the boxy, galvanized, and opaque surface—the project celebrates the 100th anniversary country’s first entry into a Venice Biennale. Inconveniently for them, that anniversary was last year, but feh! If you want to celebrate, don’t let the details get in the way! (We happen to share that philosophy.) Read More

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US Commissoner Speaks

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Friday, September 12, 2008
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Bill Menking

Bill Menking

US Pavilion Press Conference- Following official comments by the US State Department about culture’s dependency on private donors as “in keeping with the way that we see our society,” our own Bill Menking acknowledged that architects play a tiny role in how our world actually gets built and that this exhibition is dedicated to showing those architects who are showing the way to a new approach to infrastructure, from teaching schoolchildren how to grow their own food or entire communities to create buildings.

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About that pipeline project…

Other
Friday, September 12, 2008
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Sarah Palin isn’t the only one with pipelines on the brain: The Estonian installation in the Giardini recreates a section of Gazprom’s proposed Nord Stream pipeline, that would run directly from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea. Naturally, some of the Baltic countries aren’t wildly enthusiastic about this. Estonia doesn’t have a pavilion of it’s own, but that may be a good thing. The group placed a 63-meter-long yellow pipe running from the entry of the Russian pavilion:

Goes straight past the Japan pavilion (hey, geographical accuracy isn’t the point):

And spits out—you guessed it—directly in front of the imposing German pavilion: Read More

Faces in the Crowd

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Friday, September 12, 2008
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Aric Chen (Man About Town), Christopher Hawthorne (LA TImes), Felix Burrichter (Pin Up Magazine)

Writer’s Block

Other
Friday, September 12, 2008
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Obviously when we saw that the first event of the first panel discussion on the first day was titled “Writing Building” and was billed as going beyond criticism and academic writing in an effort to recapture a lost audience (Are you still with me here?), we pricked up our ears.  Read More

Zaha Hadid, Villa Foscari

Other
Thursday, September 11, 2008
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VILLA FOSCARI (“La Malcontenta”)

Other
Thursday, September 11, 2008
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Last night we were part of the “special crowd” that was invited to Villa Foscari for the unveiling of Zaha’s newest sculpture for Villa Foscari, PALLADIO’S 500TH ANNIVERSARY.

Villa Foscari is a patrician villa in Mira, near Venice, northern Italy, designed by the Italian architect Andrea Palladio. It is also known as La Malcontenta, a nickname which it received when the spouse of one of the Foscari’s was locked up in the house because she allegedly didn’t live up to her conjugal duty. Faces seen, Aric Chen, Laurie Beckleman, Robert Rubin, Joseph Giovannini, Charles Refro, Diana Darling, Ben Prossky (Columbia Univ.), Mayor of Venice, Massimo Cacciari, Liz Diller, Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture, and Nigel Coates.

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Calvino 2.0

Other
Thursday, September 11, 2008
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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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Bridge To Nowhere

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Thursday, September 11, 2008
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Taiwanese Group Interbreeding Field are making bridge follies all around the Giardini.

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Aaron Betsky, David Rockwell and Ric Scofidio: Mount Rushmore du Jour

Other
Thursday, September 11, 2008
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The Bellinis, toasts, and information exchange about digital technology flowed freely at a reception and rooftop dinner at the Danieli Hotel hosted by David Rockwell, Aaron Betsky, Reed Kroloff and Casey Jones. Liz Diller, Ric Scofidio and Charles Renfro joined the celebrants after decamping from an equally glam—but apparently mosquito infested party at Villa Malcontenta—party hosted by Zaha Hadid celebrating collegue-divided-only-by-the-centuries Palladio. Lise Anne Couture and Hani Rashid stayed in the Villa’s formal gardens, Couture recounted, pretending they were in the characters in the classic flick, Last Year at Marienbad.

 

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Enter the Nudes

Other
Thursday, September 11, 2008
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What would an Architecture Biennale be without French people without clothes? We don’t know because it has never happened before. French architect Philippe Rahm wanted to turn air into structure and the original plan was to create a strong convection flow deploying a cold plane. A really cool idea, all agreed, but it wasn’t working on Day One leaving a bunch of comely dudes, some in minimalist Egyptian togs to inhabit the cool space, the others demonstrating the warm space in the buff. To our surprise, the ones exposing themselves were not architects but a performance troupe.

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Gehry and the Ancient Arts

Other
Thursday, September 11, 2008
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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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