Monday, February 22, 2016

Reporting from the Front - Biennale Architecture 2016

G. Marini, Rolex; Paolo Baratta, Pres. Biennale; Alejandro Aravena - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) Alejandro Aravena, the curator of Biennale's 15th International Architecture Exhibition, is on a roll. In addition to directing one of the world's most prestigious get-togethers in the world of architecture, the 48-year-old Chilean won the Pritzker Prize last month, architecture's highest award.


The image that has inspired Aravena for REPORTING FROM THE FRONT is that of an old woman standing on an aluminum ladder in the middle of the desert. Aravena related: "In his trip to South America [the English writer] Bruce Chatwin encountered an old lady walking through the desert carrying an aluminum ladder on her shoulder. It was German archaeologist Maria Reiche studying the Nazca Lines. Standing on the ground, the stones did not make any sense; they were just random gravel. But from the height of the stair, those stones became a bird, a jaguar, a tree or a flower."

Phoenix - Nazca Lines
We've all seen Discovery programs about mysterious designs and patterns that can only be recognized from the air. The Nazca Lines are large geoglyphs, or designs, in southern Peru, created by the Nazca culture between 500 BC and 500 AD. Hundreds of etchings were created by making shallow furrows in the ground, removing rust-colored pebbles and exposing the whitish ground beneath. Because the climate in the desert is relatively stable, the Nazca Lines have been naturally preserved for centuries.

Maria Reiche (1903-1998), a German mathematician and archaeologist, dedicated her life to the Nazca Lines. She would go out with a broom and sweep off the small dark pebbles to make the designs more accessible for viewing while the local population laughed at the woman who was "cleaning the desert." For 50 years, the "Lady of the Lines" fought with a passion to preserve the Nazca Lines, living in a small house near the desert so she could keep reckless visitors at bay.

Today, nobody is certain what the Nazca Lines signify, although, of course, there is an alien theory. Reiche herself believed the ancient people used the alignment of the drawings with the sun as a calendar for agricultural purposes, among other reasons. "This would explain the fact that drawing activity was done to preserve knowledge, the knowledge that humanity has garnered over hundreds and thousands of years for the practical purpose of survival."

Alejandro Averena - Photo: Giorgio Zuchiatti - courtesy Biennale
Alejandro Averena stated: "We would like the Biennale Architettura 2016 to offer a new point of view like the one Maria Reiche has on the ladder. Given the complexity and variety of challenges that architecture has to respond to, REPORTING FROM THE FRONT will be about listening to those that were able to gain some perspective, and, consequently, are in the position to share some knowledge and experiences with those of us standing on the ground.

...REPORTING FROM THE FRONT will be about sharing with a broader audience the work of people that are scrutinizing the horizon looking for new fields of action, facing issues like segregation, inequalities, peripheries, access to sanitation, natural disasters, housing shortage, migration, informality, crime, traffic, waste, pollution and participation of communities. ..."

This year's Architecture Biennale is going to be one enormous show, stretching from the Central Pavilion in Giardini over to the Arsenale, and will include 88 participants from 37 different countries, 50 of them participating for the first time, with 33 architects under the age of 40.

REPORTING FROM THE FRONT opens to the public on May 28, and runs through November 27, 2016. Go to Biennale for more information.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. Alejandro Aravena, the curator of Biennale's 15th International Architecture Exhibition, is on a roll. In addition to directing one of the world's most prestigious get-togethers in the world of architecture, the 48-year-old Chilean won the Pritzker Prize last month, architecture's highest award.

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