The Russian pavilion needs urgent work. At the 17th International Architecture Exhibition it is open albeit under construction, both as an architecture and as institution.
Moscow, February 2020
These words, penned only a handful of weeks ago, now have a completely different meaning in light of the current pandemic. How to reflect on the main theme of this year’s Biennale – How will we live together? – in a time of global crisis? We propose to take our project beyond the horizon of this edition of the biennial and to consider a longer temporal trajectory, to rebuild the pavilion as an institution on new and sturdier grounds. With the ambition to investigate the public role of cultural institutions, the Russian Pavilion was supposed to feature on the one hand a new generation of architects, selected through an open call and invited to set up a temporary office within the Pavilion.
On the other, the reconstruction of the building was intended as a catalyst for a broader investigation into the politics of global events such as Venice’s Biennale, and an attempt to reimagine the layered system of rules, norms, and relationships that connect the actors orbiting around the pavilion and beyond. Until a few weeks ago, these two dimensions could coexist and complement each other – the former, rooted in the physical space of the Giardini; the latter, comprising a polyphony of voices originating from both the actual Pavilion and the digital realm, including gaming platforms, electronic music and movie screenings that experiment with alternative modes of living together.
The outbreak of COVID-19 virus has inverted the balance between ephemeral (yet virus-free, hence safer) online spaces, and real (yet potentially contagious, hence threatening) physical spaces. Responding to this sudden shift in perspectives, the pavilion will expand the scope of its original ambitions as architectural renovation and by moving a substantial part of its program online. The goal is to explore different realms (including the digital) as testing grounds for reflecting on the role that cultural institutions should have in this critical moment, and in the future, to keep our social structures alive.
Teresa Iarocci Mavica
Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli
Lion & Unicorn
Pavel Milyakov (aka Buttechno)
Lorenzo Mason Studio
Anastasia Karneeva, Smart Art
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