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非典型双年展的经验
Lessons from an Atypical Biennale

由专筑网亚森君,小R编译

Ian Volner谈到今年的大流行时代版本是否可以成为未来的模型

2021威尼斯双年展的反思——后疫情时代的理性展览第1张图片


Andrea Avezzù/La Biennale di Venezia

在卡尔维诺(Italo Calvino)的后现代主义杰作《看不见的城市》(Invisible Cities)中,马可波罗的角色坦白了他关于遥远土地的离谱故事背后的真相:“每次我描述一座城市时,我都在谈论威尼斯。”无论他的幻想之都多么滑稽,无论多么不可思议,它们都只是原作的苍白倒影,因为伟大的旅行者不得不回到这个地方。

在过去的四分之一个世纪里,设计界的许多人都有同样的感觉。每隔一年,评论家和从业者都会回到La Serenissima,参加威尼斯建筑双年展(Venice Architecture Biennale),这个活动昂贵且费力,对主办方和游客来说,最好的结果是喜忧参半。到目前为止,它也已经用尽了大多数可用的批评性观点,人们可以合理地赞美或埋汰它。由于 COVID-19 的影响,2020 年双年展推迟了整整 12 个月,这给今年的双年展带来了新鲜感,并因此有可能重新评估整个双年展的特殊成果。

Ian Volner on how this year's pandemic-era edition can be a model for the future.
In Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino’s postmodernist masterpiece, the character of Marco Polo confesses the truth behind his outrageous tales of far-off lands: “Every time I describe a city I am saying something about Venice.” However zany, however improbable his fantasy capitals may be, they are only pallid reflections of the original—the one place the great traveler cannot help but return to.
Over the last quarter century, many in the design world have come to feel the same way, albeit for different reasons. Every other year after every other year, critics and practitioners return to La Serenissima for the Venice Architecture Biennale, a ritual that has come to bear all the hallmarks of a religious pilgrimage: costly, physically taxing, and yielding mixed blessings at best for hosts and visitors alike. It has also, by now, exhausted most of the available critical takes one could plausibly cook up either to praise or bury it (including invocations of Calvino, of which the above can hardly be the first). Only the intervention of COVID-19—which pushed the 2020 Biennale back a full 12 months—has afforded this year’s edition an air of novelty, and with it, the possibility of reassessing the whole screwy endeavor.

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Andrea Avezzù/威尼斯双年展“后人类目录”,芝加哥Parsons & Charlesworth事务所

Andrea Avezzù/La Biennale di Venezia“Catalogue for the Posthuman,” by Chicago-based Parsons & Charlesworth

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Andrea Avezzù/威尼斯双年展V&A博物馆的装置

乍一看,判断并不好。过去双年展的所有缺点,比如缺乏说服力、规模过大、对建筑的社会潜力过度乐观,似乎都集中在由麻省理工学院建筑与规划学院院长Hashim Sarkis策划的主展上。甚至连他选择的主题“我们将如何生活在一起?”,听起来像是对建筑双年展的拙劣模仿,你也可以想象一下备选方案:“DesignPlusNow”;“The Fundamentals of Here”。

军火库基本就是一个黑暗而威严的空间,现在被渲染得更加黑暗和威严。它堆满了装置,装置本身并没有什么大的问题,但由于与其他装置过于接近而失去了原有的冲击力,一个想象中的后世界末日泛生态餐桌,这个作品来自英国的设计公司 Superflux,坐落在一个奢华的高科技月球基地附近(来自 Skidmore Owings & Merrill 的设计方案),在这个基地的视线范围内,有一个木质的凯旋门(秘鲁二人组 Alexia León 和 Lucho Marcial的作品),这种组合方式以某种形式象征着共享空间。总部位于奥地利的MAEID工作室的“魔法女王”是一个由自动手臂建造的超时空迷你景观,与芝加哥Parsons & Charlesworth事务所的“后人类目录”(Catalogue for the Posthuman)在概念上发生了碰撞,后者是对高科技文化的滑稽颠覆。当参观者到达大厅的后面时,Reinier de Graaf 和 OMA 在那里安装了轮床,用于观看关于医疗保健空间历史的电影,这件装置看起来就像一个天才作品,仅仅是为了让观众有机会躺下。

Andrea Avezzù/La Biennale di VeneziaThe V&A Museum's installation
The prognosis, at first blush, is not great. All the vices of Biennales past—lack of cogency, excessive scale, a cloying optimism about architecture’s social potential—seem to be concentrated in the main exhibition, which was curated by Hashim Sarkis, the dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning. Even his chosen theme, “How Will We Live Together?”, sounds like a parody of what an architecture biennial might be called. (One imagines the rejected alternatives: “DesignPlusNow”; “The Fundamentals of Here.”)
The Arsenale, a dark and imposing space at the best of times, has been rendered even more so. It's filled with installations that are not necessarily bad by themselves but that lose their punch by their proximity to everything else: An imagined post-apocalyptic pan-ecological dinner table, from British firm Superflux, sits within shouting distance of an extravagantly high-tech moon base proposal from Skidmore Owings & Merrill, which is within sight of a sort of wood triumphal arch by Peruvian duo Alexia León and Lucho Marcial that is meant, somehow, to symbolize shared space. Austrian-based MAEID’s “Magic Queen,” an unworldly mini-landscape built by an automated arm, bumps up conceptually against a hilarious take down of high-tech culture, “Catalogue for the Posthuman,” from Chicago-based Parsons & Charlesworth. By the time visitors reach the back of the main hall, where Reinier de Graaf and OMA have installed gurneys for watching a film on the history of healthcare spaces, the piece seems like a work of genius simply for allowing viewers the chance to lie down.

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Francesco Galli/La Biennale di Venezia德国馆,除了二维码,空无一人

Sarkis的策展声明中写道:“2021年建筑双年展由世界在建筑方面提出的新问题而推动。” 的确是这样。显然,这足以证明一场庞大的展览的合理性,该展览涉及来自46个国家的 113 名参与者,如果算上冗长的 COVID 过渡期,则需要两年时间才能举办,不过疫情似乎并没有影响到展览的内容,而是影响到人们前往威尼斯,以及作品的安装工作。有些展览并未成功,比如捷克斯洛伐克,其展馆空无一人,以及英国的大部分策展团队被政府禁止参加。同样引人注目的是,大多数国际记者还有知名建筑师、学者,以及通常标志着这一场合的大多数声势浩大的宣传活动都没有出现。当地对冠状病毒的限制并不太严格,但在街道上所举办的非正式建筑讨论很少,当全市的宵禁在晚上10点左右到来时,只有少数人留在圣马可广场,宪兵队会把他们赶走。

听起来有点拖拉?的确如此,但这也可能是一个建设性的决定。今年的双年展缺乏激情,但至少在一定程度上,它用某种偶然的氛围弥补了这一点。虽然许多参展商似乎对 Sarkis 低沉的号角感到满意,但在中央展览的某些部分,尤其是在国家馆中,却有着完全不同的氛围,即更清晰、更吸引人、更有趣的展览。无论是否源于疫情,它都是一种非常适合当下的情绪,它为各地的双年展指明了前进的方向,尤其是对威尼斯双年展来说,这次双年展很令人烦恼,但又必不可少。

Francesco Galli/La Biennale di VeneziaThe German pavilion, empty save for QR codes
“The Biennale Architettura 2021 is motivated by new kinds of problems that the world is putting in front of architecture,” reads Sarkis’s curatorial statement. That’s it. That’s apparently as much philosophical impetus as could be mustered to justify a sprawling show that features 113 contributors from 46 countries and that took two years to mount if you count the lengthy COVID interregnum—which did not seem to affect the content of the exhibitions so much as the logistics of traveling to Venice and installing them. Some folks never did make it, including Czechoslovakia, whose pavilion sat empty, as well as most of the curatorial team behind the United Kingdom’s contributions (a pavilion show on public-private space and an exploration of London mosques from the V&A Museum) who were barred by their government from attending. Also conspicuous in its absence was most of the international press corps, along with the customary battalion of celebrity architects, academic makhers, and most of the fanfare and vernissages that typically mark the occasion. Local coronavirus restrictions were not too onerous, but informal architectural gabfests over pasta alle vongole were scarce, and when the nominal citywide curfew arrived at around 10 p.m., only a few stragglers remained in the Piazza St. Marco for the carabinieri to shoo away.
Sound like a bit of a drag? It was, but it could yet turn out to be a constructive one. What this year’s Biennale lacked in verve it made up for, at least in part, with a certain accidental atmosphere. While many exhibitors seemed content with Sarkis’s muffled clarion call, there was an entirely different vibe in parts of the central exhibition and especially in the national pavilions: an intellectually clearer, more engaging, and funnier one. Whether born of the pandemic or not, it was a mood perfectly suited to the moment, and it pointed a way forward for biennials everywhere—but especially for Venice's, the most vexing yet essential of the bunch.

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Francesco Galli/La Biennale di Venezia 俄罗斯馆,位于一座 1914 年新翻修的建筑中

Francesco Galli/La Biennale di VeneziaThe Russian pavilion, which was housed in a newly renovated 1914 building

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Francesco Galli/威尼斯双年展俄罗斯馆

在新闻预览会上,双年展的联合策展人Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli站在俄罗斯馆新开放的后阳台上,解释了1914年的这栋建筑在去年发生的事。“我们必须彻底更新这个空间。”他说。这个项目酝酿已久,拆除了多年来拙劣的翻新工程,这些翻新工程阻隔了朝南的通风平台。几十年来,参观者第一次可以在贾尔迪尼 (Giardini) 参加全国性展览并欣赏大运河的景色,过去,展览区一直有意避开大运河。俄罗斯人将展馆改造作为他们展览的主题,从而取得了双重成功。

但他们并不仅仅是参加双年展,而是为了从事真正的建筑工作。“它昨天才完工。”Paul Anderson在我参观美国馆时说,他是美国馆的联合策展人。在Anderson的帮助下,美国有着近年来最不装模作样、也最令人满意的作品,即一个木制气球框架装置,在展馆前面有一个1:1的结构,里面展示了照片和精美的模型。这件作品的成功,在一定程度上是因为这个三层的木材结构不仅作为观赏的对象,而且也是周围花园的观赏装置。

Francesco Galli/La Biennale di VeneziaThe Russian pavilion
Standing on the newly-reopened rear balcony of the Russian pavilion during the press preview, the co-curator of the Biennale, Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, explained what had happened to the 1914 building in the forgoing year. “We had to completely renew the space,” he said. The project, long in the making, has removed years of misbegotten renovations that had, among other things, shut off the airy south-facing terrace. For the first time in decades, visitors can go to a national show in the Giardini and get a view of the Grand Canal, to which the exhibition zone has always studiously turned its back. The Russians scored a double coup by making the pavilion renovation the primary topic of their exhibition.
But they were hardly the only ones who arrived at the Biennale in order to—of all things—actually do architecture. “It was only fully completed yesterday,” Paul Anderson told me when I visited the American pavilion, which he had co-curated. Anderson had helped pull together one of the least intellectually pretentious, most satisfying U.S. contributions in recent memory, a paean to wood balloon-frame construction featuring a full-size structure in front of the pavilion and a show of photographs and exquisite models inside. The piece works, in part, because the three-story timber outbuilding operates not just as an object to be viewed, but as a viewing device for the gardens that surround it.

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Francesco Galli/La Biennale di Venezia美国馆

尽管双年展的非现场展览比以往少,值得注意的例外有Joseph grima在V-A-C基金会导演的“非挖掘性建筑”(Non-Extractive Architecture)、Spazio Ravà的互动式“Mutualities”装置,还有Alma Zevi关于 Carlo Scarpa展览的精美小珠宝盒,美国和俄罗斯的代表团让双年展相较以往更有场所感,更有威尼斯风情。尽管Sarkis的整体方向非常严肃,但它也让人感到意外的轻松。韩国馆是一个舒适的室内空间,一只流浪的威尼斯猫住在里面;北欧馆提供了舒适的木材,这是一个特殊的儿童装置;德国馆完全是空的,墙上的二维码将游客引导至一个在线展览,留下裸露的结构之美。这些链接视频十分严肃,它们由一个伪未来主义导游所介绍,有点像空乘人员,还做着夸张的手势。当德国人在开玩笑的时候,你就知道出事了。

在中心的展览中也出现了一些相对轻松的东西,主要是以数量惊人的装置形式出现,这些装置从单纯的建筑模型制作变成了真正的玩具屋。Sarkis 的黎巴嫩同胞 Lina Ghotmeh 在贝鲁特展示了她在贝鲁特新建的石头花园塔楼,并展示了这座近 6 英尺高且具有触感的泥土结构精美模型。Meng Fanhao的“乡愁/都市梦”是一个中国村庄的精细微缩模型,人物和动作栩栩如生,给观众带来了一种探视的乐趣。丹麦公司 EFFEKT 创建了一个完整的示范森林社区,其中的树木由真正生长的幼苗组成,这是一个具有生态意识的 Playmobil 城市。经历了艰难的一年之后,也许有些建筑师只想再次微笑: Michael Maltzan的童趣单纯,FAIA 第六街高架桥模型,以及比利时馆中呈现的精美抽象的城市景观,都具有一种古怪的魅力,让人想起局外人艺术家Peter Fritzl精心设计的火车式房屋,这是2013 年威尼斯艺术双年展的一大亮点,由杰出策展人Masimiliano Gioni组织。

Francesco Galli/La Biennale di VeneziaThe U.S. pavilion
Even with fewer off-site exhibitions than are customary during the Biennale (notable exceptions include “Non-Extractive Architecture,” a Joseph Grima-directed show at the V-A-C Foundation; the interactive “Mutualities” installation at Spazio Ravà; and a tiny, stunning jewel box of a show about Carlo Scarpa at Alma Zevi), the American and Russian contingents helped the Biennale feel more situated, more Venetian, than it has in a while. It also felt—notwithstanding the high seriousness of Sarkis’s overall direction—surprisingly lighthearted. The Korean Pavilion is a snug domestic interior where a stray Venetian cat had taken up residence. The Nordic Pavilion, offering even more coziness and wall-to-wall wood, is a special hit with the toddler set. And the German pavilion was entirely empty save for QR codes on the walls that redirected visitors to an online exhibition, leaving the bare beauty of the structure exposed. The linked videos were a sober-minded affair, but they were introduced by a pseudo-futuristic tour guide doing a sort of flight-attendant bit, complete with overdrawn hand gestures. When the Germans are being funny, you know something’s up.
Levity snuck into the central show as well, mostly in the form of a remarkable number of installations that went beyond mere architectural model-making to become honest-to-goodness dollhouses. Sarkis’s Lebanese compatriot Lina Ghotmeh showed off her new Stone Garden tower in Beirut with a stunningly executed mock up of the tactile, earthy structure that stands nearly six feet tall. Meng Fanhao’s “Rural Nostalgia/Urban Dream,” a detailed scale miniature of a Chinese village, was alive with figures and action, affording the viewer a rush of voyeuristic pleasure. And Danish firm EFFEKT created an entire model forest community with trees composed of real growing seedlings—a Playmobil city for the ecologically conscious. After a rough year, maybe some architects just wanted to smile again: The childlike simplicity of Michael Maltzan, FAIA’s Sixth Street Viaduct model, as well as a beautifully abstracted townscape on view in the Belgian pavilion, had an oddball charm reminiscent of the work of outsider artist Peter Fritzl, whose meticulous train set-like houses were a highlight of the 2013 Venice Art Biennale organized by the brilliant curator Massimiliano Gioni.

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Marco Zorzanello/威尼斯双年展丹麦公司 EFFEKT 的装置

Marco Zorzanello/La Biennale di VeneziaThe installation by Danish firm EFFEKT

2021威尼斯双年展的反思——后疫情时代的理性展览第9张图片


Marco Zorzanello/威尼斯双年展EFFEKT的展览

说到这里,就不得不提到策展人这个重要的角色。如果说双年展有一个长期困扰的问题,那就是展览的意大利管理者对建筑师的依赖,让他们担任首席策展人的职位,虽然并非总是如此:历史学家 Francesco dal Co 负责 1991 年的展览、评论家、建筑师 Aaron Betsky,在 2008 年担任了这个角色。然而,在大多数情况下,专业策展人被拒之门外,原因可能更多的是与市场营销有关,而不是其他,因为大多数建筑师都享有较高的媒体知名度。在选择Sarkis以及他的前任格拉夫顿建筑公司时,双年展的领导们倾向那些媒体不太熟悉的名字,这是一种错误的战略。目前的建筑展览标志着新上任的双年展主席Roberto Cicutti的首次亮相,Roberto Cicutti在去年年初接替了长期在位的Paolo Baratta。为了给博物馆打上自己的烙印,Cicutti可能会考虑聘请一位真正的策展人来做一些真正的策展工作。

同时,双年展的“权势人物”(Powers That Be)也可能会考虑,这个活动是否会永远像个“小盘赌场”。虽然今年的展览受到新冠肺炎的影响,相对空旷,规模较小,但它有明显的优势,更容易导航,更容易消化,最重要的是,它让游客更轻松地穿梭于威尼斯,休闲地欣赏一切。在 2021 年的相对安静和往年的压抑喧嚣之间,肯定可以找到一个快乐的媒介,即,应控制出勤率,使其足够高以创造更多刺激,但又不能高到给已经过度旅游的人带来负担,比如为城市带来严重的生态、基础设施和生活质量等问题。如果以后有更少的观众来观看一场主题更紧凑、与历史背景更好对话的展览,他们可能会再次想起当初去的原因,以及回来的感觉有多好。

Marco Zorzanello/La Biennale di VeneziaEFFEKT's exhibit
Speaking of which: curators. If there is one chronic problem plaguing the Biennale that the current iteration seems to crystalize, it has been the reliance of the show’s Italian administrators on architects—practicing designers—to take on the chief curatorial position. It has not always been thus: Historian Francesco dal Co was responsible for the 1991 show; a critic, ARCHITECT's own Aaron Betsky, assumed the role in 2008. For the most part, however, professional curators have been locked out of the job, for reasons that likely have more to do with marketing than anything else, given the higher media profile enjoyed by most architects. In choosing Sarkis, as well as his predecessors Grafton Architects, the Biennale leadership can be credited with turning to less overly familiar names, but their strategic error is the same. The current architecture exhibit marks the first outing under newly installed Biennale president Roberto Cicutti, who took over the role from longtime incumbent Paolo Baratta early last year. In seeking to put his own mark on the institution, one thing Cicutti might consider would be to hire an actual curator to do some actual curating.
While they’re at it, the Bienniale’s Powers That Be might also consider whether the event must invariably be such a fottuta casino totale. The relative emptiness and petite size of the COVID-curtailed show had definite advantages: It was easier to navigate, more digestible, and best of all, it allowed visitors to move through Venice with more ease, to take it all in at leisure. Surely a happy medium can be found between the relative quietude of 2021 and the oppressive bustle of previous years: Namely, attendance should be controlled so it's high enough to create a little more excitement, but not so high as to burden an already over-touristed city with serious ecological, infrastructural, and quality-of-life issues. If future, slightly smaller crowds were to arrive to find a show with a tighter thematic focus, in better dialogue with its historic setting, they might remember again why they started going in the first place, and how good it is to be back.

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