Biennale Architettura 2021

The best exhibit was in Future Assembly In the main building at Biennale Giardini, a bibliographic exhibition, which is replicated digitally here:

The theme this year was: “How Will We Live Together?” and I was surprised that not one of the pavilions addressed any of the obvious answers (i.e., “uncomfortably,” or “many of us won’t”), which struck me as some combination of disingenuous and cowardly. So many booths simply responded to the theme-question with longer lists of rhetorical questions–answering the question essentially with reformulations of the same question. In short: it was disappointing.

This was, no doubt, due to COVID restrictions. Many pavilions were 95% empty, some entirely closed. A few relied on VR (Russia, Switzerland) which simply did not work very well. All the pavilions relied on QR codes, which means you need both a pretty decent phone and cell phone service (I have neither). The WIFI they provided was expectedly shoddy. Then there was a tremendous overreliance on text. Text! Text! Text! Text everywhere. I didn’t come to the Biennale to read essays. I thought architects communicated with space. Again, I think all of this was these architects attempting to rise to the occasion within the constrictions of these COVID circumstances. They struggled.

There was nothing quite as unforgettable as the Blood Robot, which will live on in my memories, nightmares.

Venice in the fall is so much more pleasant. Cool, crisp — and a strange phenomenon: the city seems much smaller. I suspect that’s because walking across the city is so much easier when it’s not so hot that time-space fly by relatively.

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