In Venice, art and architecture have a long tradition of intermingling. The city’s renowned institution, the Biennale, hosts a major exhibition dedicated to each. The current edition of the Art Biennale offers occasions to reflect on the relationship between the two
At the Napoleonic Giardini, the historical location of the manifestation where art is exhibited pavilions dedicated to individual countries, artist Maria Eichhorn examined the eventful history of the German Pavilion since the beginning of the Biennale. Eichhorn reflected on the physical structure of the building, which consists of two structures: the Bavarian Pavilion built in 1909 and the extensions carried out by the Nazi regime in 1938, as seen today.
The artist had the foundations of the pavilion excavated and layers of plaster removed from its walls, to expose the joins between the earlier structure and the remodeled building. In order to comprehend the radical reconstruction and extension work, she also had the outlines of the window openings and doorways from 1909 laid bare. In this way, the original, hidden pavilion has been rendered visible and tangible.
Not only were the transitions between the original architecture and the extension and reconstruction work revealed, but also the shift in dimensions. While the proportions of the Bavarian Pavilion were oriented to a human scale, the 1938 additions were designed to dwarf visitors, producing an intimidating effect.
Not too far from Eichhorn’s intervention, in a corner of the Giardini the Spanish Pavilion stands slightly skewed with respect to its neighbours, Belgium and the Netherlands. Artist Ignasi Aballí stumbled upon this apparent mistake while studying the floorplans, and decided to correct the defect by replicating the inside walls of the pavilion within the pavilion itself, turning them ten degrees in order to align it with the adjacent buildings.
With such simple, almost unnoticeable action, the artist questioned the whole architecture of the pavilion, while the new construction, devoid of any purpose, gets closer to sculpture.
Leaving behind the Biennale just a short vaporetto trip from the Giardini, on Venice’s prestigious Lido Island, the founder of Milan-based Nilufar Gallery, Nina Yashar, has taken over the hall of the 1920’s building of Giovanni Nicelli private airport to curate an exhibition featuring a balanced blend of historical and contemporary design.
Works by great Italian masters such as Gio Ponti, Franco Albini, Ignazio Moncada, BBPR, and Pietro Consagra, are put in dialogue with contemporary artifacts by artists such as Martino Gamper, Bethan Laura Wood, and Analogia Projects. A second exhibition dedicated to ceramic artist Sin Ying Cassandra Ho – her first solo show in Europe – has been installed in the former fuel’s distributor of the airport.