Canada's entry at the 13th Venice International Architecture Biennale revolves around a very relevant theme in our times, Migrating Landscapes, and the consequent socio-political issues and challenges that derive from increased mobility and the processes of settling and unsettling.
Curated by Winnipeg-based 5468796 Architecture and Jae-Sung Chon, who teamed up for the occasion under the moniker the Migrating Landscapes Organizer (MLO), the pavilion consists in a wooden structure, a sort of conceptual and modular landscape highlighted here and there by bright shades of fluorescent pink, in which several projects analysing several issues revolving around the migrating theme (identity, social relationships, economic and political conditions, etc) are displayed.
MLO invited through a national competition several young Canadian architects and designers from different backgrounds to contribute with their projects to the pavilion. The 18 models selected were designed by 38 individuals (all under 45 years of age) from seven regions across Canada.
Some projects are based on or emphasise the themes of craft and technology: Tiffany Shaw-Collinge created for example three models that replicate the frame of the cabin that her great-grandfather built on the trap line in Ft. McMurray. She constructed one cabin from deer hide sourced from her family, made another with crocheted fabrics and the last one with zip ties (lovely idea, I've been experimenting with this material for a while now...).
D'Arcy Jones recreated instead his own experience of childhood migration from an established neighbourhood to a new house with an unfinished basement, making a model using everyday materials.
Other projects included in the pavilion are more focused on strictly architectural studies: Acre Architects proposed a model to promote a sense of identity and place for New Brunswick, depicting its forested landscape with an intervention on the edge of Saint John's waterfront. Since the grey shade is part of the collective psyche of foggy Saint John, the design introduces bold colours in the structure and a waving roofscape imitating an intertidal landscape.
Batay-Csorba Architects looked instead at Toronto and at the residential typology dominating it, that is carefully arranged dense rows of single and multi-unit Victorian and Bay and Gable style houses intermixed within the density of the city. The architectural firm suggest with their project a new organisation that could allow contemporary culture to influence the role of dwelling.
There are also quite a few conceptual projects included in the pavilion that will in some cases prompt visitors to interact with them. The group of creatives behind The Loose Architects designed a series of coloured-stone looking objects (that can be assembled to form a package that equates the maximum allowable size for carry-on luggage) symbolising their belongings constantly gathered, packed and unpacked in the flux of continuous migration. The possessions also represent home, a space that constantly changes configuration every time somebody moves one object (the group encourages visitors to reconfigure the pieces as much as they want).
The act of dwelling is at the centre of Anca Matyiku and Chad Connery's project and they interpreted it as a series of metabolical vessels and armatures that facilitate the flows within. The bricks are symbolised by containers that grow, hold and preserve food, constructing and reconstructing the architecture according to the cycles and seasons of the landscape.
The five members of the OPEN group built between the wooden structure a sort of layered landscape that represents the combined timeline - a mix of experiences, backgrounds and cultures - of the five members of the group.Though different voids hint at the differences between the five individuals, the continuity between the models symbolises the links between each person and the direct influence one member of the group may have on the other.
Tue focused his work, entitled "Merging Landscapes", on the dichotomy between internal and external spaces, borderless territories and enclosing and protecting structures, designing a fuchsia model representing a transitory state where two mental spaces are merging into a heterogeneous structure that has not settled yet but is supported by one's aspirations and experience. The spaces are different in scale and morphology and they cannot be perceived at the same time.
Dichotomic themes also appear in Jason Hare's “Migrating (Bounded) Landscapes”, an abstract wooden structure that symbolises a dwelling setting in between the urban and the rural lanscapes and therefore connecting them, and Jean-Nicolas Bouchard and Philippe Charest's project based on how the distance between the city and the countryside allow us to enter in contact with the landscape that inspires in the viewer wonder but also a sense of isolation. These notions inspire architects to create structures that protect from but that also open up to the landscape.
One of the most poetic projects remains Enrique Enriquez's "Quilt", represented by a series of little figurines covered in clusters of beads. The latter are metaphors for a migrant's personal belongings.
Born in Mexico, Enriquez moved to Canada ten years ago and, in the presentation to his project, he explains how the personal belongings and objects he carried with him turned as the years passed into a sort of soft quilt-like armour that sheltered and protected him. When he finally felt at home in Canada and tried to get rid of this imaginary quilt, he realised he couldn't as it had sewn itself to his body becoming an integral part of himself.
The colours of the Canadian Pavilion with those bright fluo pink shades and the main issues explored by the projects revolving around the "Migrating" theme, made me think about Pedro Lourenço's Spring/Summer 2013 collection. Like in Batay-Csorba's project in his collection - mainly based on a palette of soft and brighter pinks matched with neutral colours - there is a sort of reconstruction of organisational boundaries.
The basic mood may come from military attire, planes and jets (printed on some of the tops for an industrial touch), but Lourenço managed to inject a graphic, futuristic (check out the digitally reworked houndstooth details for jackets and miniskirts, that, it must be said, looked at times very Balenciaga...) and feminine touch in the collection.
For this collection the designer was also inspired by a sort of migrating/mutating colour: the palette was indeed borrowed from photographer Richard Mosse's pictures taken in the Democratic Republic of Congo (already employed as the starting point for Lourenço's Resort Collection). Mosse's infrared Kodak Aerochrome, an aerial reconnaissance film, turned green into pink/crimson/magenta (see his "Infra" series - View this photo), transforming one shade into another and therefore recreating an almost artificial fantasy in a landscape of war and death.
Member of the Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos
Member of the Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos