From our roving correspondent Alex Gorlin, who was party-hopping the other night:
Among the guests at Aaron Betsky’s 50th birthday celebration on Thursday were Henry Urbach, curator of Architecture at SF MoMA, Laurie Beckelman, UCLA’s Sylvia Lavin (who was complaining to Jeff Kipnis about the mosquitoes), Susan Grant Lewin the PR Queen—she barely made the “haj” to the party—the Modern’s Barry Bergdoll with Bill Ryall, his partner, Reed Kroloff and Casey Jones. Last and certainly not least was Katherine Gustafson, the Zaha of landscape design, who appeared in a regally flowing white toga-like gown. The setting was her “Garden of Paradise” at the Arsenale, a coyly-renamed installation in the Garden of Virgins, with vegetables and flowers culminating in a swirling ridge of grassy mounds above which floated giant white ballons and what looked like the remains of a parachute. All in all, an elegant evening, although with no lights on, it was pitch black and so far away that one can only imagine half the guests, a little tipsy perhaps, falling into canals on the trek home. Read More
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.