travelogue - the venice architecture biennale 2010

XXIIth Venice Architecture Biennale

First of all, a new year greeting to everybody - wish you an inspiring year ahead!

At the end of a long holiday after Christmas & New Year for most of us, the urge to plan the year ahead and carry out the plan in reality is probably be in your mind at some point over the past 2 weeks. To make it easy, it's always motivating to start with some travel incentives. Have you planned any art excursions ahead? The following may be useful: the Independent's must-see calendar 2011 for global art events. (If you would like to check out events within the UK, click on this instead)

Visitors in the Giardini

Here is a retrospective of the Venice Architecture Biennale last year, focusing on the British personnel involved. According to the offical website, the event had attracted a record attendance of 170801 visitors, that means over 3 million euro of just entry-ticket sales (full price entry is 20 euro for an adult person). Attendance for its sister Art Biennale in 2009 was 375700, and who knows how much is spent for all the red carpets during the film festival. No wonder Venice can survive the rising sea level - just with its three Biennales!

Architecture Biennale - Kazuyo Sejima in Venice by BiennaleChannel - video link

The British pavilion this year is commissioned by Vicky Richardson, Director of Architecture, Design, Fashion at the British Council and under the direction of muf architecture/art Llp. This is the official information from the British Council, how the commissioning process actually work? We don't have any further information from the page, so we cannot comment on whether the team selected has got the best idea. However, from observation, the British pavilion seems to be the only one who dedicated a significant portion of its exhibition to the host city, Venice, itself. And somehow this Villa Frankenstein (name of the British pavilion, which is also unique among the exhibitors that a name other than the country's name is provided) is quite fascinating indeed.

British humour displayed at the entrance - The Puddle, a concrete-formed pond & some paddington boots aside

Plan of the pavilion

The Stadium of Close Looking - a 1:10 scaled model of the Olympic Stadium for London 2012, designed by muf architecture/art (London) and built by Spazio Legno (Venice) + Atelier One (London)

The Ruskin Wing - showcasing reference materials about the British Victorian social critic & historian of Venetian architecture John Ruskin

The Lagoon - displays illustrating the fragile eco-system in the Venice Lagoon

A 15 sq m. ecologically functioning slice of salt marsh in a tank showing a close‐up view of the native floral and fauna of the Venice Lagoon

You can see from the above, the UK pavilion is a collaboration between Venice and the British team, in terms of concept, contents as well as execution. It is quite an enjoyable and educational exhibition. Apart from the British pavilion, we also found Zaha Hadid's works featured in the Austrian pavilion -

No matter you like her works or not, Zaha Hadid has now truly be recognised around the world such that her architecture is even featured in the pavilion of another country in the Biennale. This is a great achievement for herself and her office. Other british featured in the show are -

Joanna (chapter one), by Cerith Wyn Evans - the neon tube text at the background

Tony Fretton's Piazza Salone with artist Mark Pimlott at the Arsenale

Tony Fretton at the Venice Architecture Biennale by Hugh Pearman - video link

If you would like to learn more about the UK's participation in every Venice Art or Architecture Biennale, check it out at this dedicated website by the British Council. Below are the full photo slide shows of the Biennale in the Arsenale venue, the Giardini venue and across the town.


Further Readings -
Page: Official page for the Venice Architecture Biennale
Review: The sprawling Venice biennale offers frustrations and rewards by Oliver Wainwright for BD magazine, 31.08.2010
Review: RA Magazine Blog: Biennale diary by Kate Goodwin, 03.09.2010
Review: Cerith Wyn Evans at the venice architecture biennale 2010 by erica for designboom, 04.09.2010
Youtube: official youtube channel for the Biennale
Youtube: Hans Ulrich Obrist's series of interviews with all the exhibitors in the Biennale

first thursday july

Hartwell Street, Dalston

First Thursdays is an initiative of keeping east london's numerous art galleries & museums to open late every first thursday of the month for visitors to enjoy art in a relaxed manner after work. Many galleries would organise private views or special events to co-incide with the occasion to add a little bit more exposure to their artists and shows.

The Whitechapel Gallery would also organise a guided bus tour for selected venues around the area on the day. Some are selected for People may not normally know some of these galleries due to their remote locations or pop-up nature.


Group Show - A Bright and Guilty Place

by Dan Hays

Payne Shurvell is a new gallery at the 'hinterland' of Bishopgate Tower in east London. Run by James Payne & Joanne Shurvell, its debut group show has a range of art in different media.  James Payne, a graduate of Central St Martins, is a working artist, curator and the film editor of Garageland magazine.  Joanne Shurvell, former Communications Director at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, is a freelance arts writer and arts marketing consultant.


Yudangami (2009) by Tabaimo

Parasol brings the first UK solo show of Japanese artist Tabaimo to London. With 3D animation beginning to take the world of entertainment, Tabaimo's traditional 2D animation is like a time-traveller journey to the eyes of the gallery-goers. The gallery staff said that she draws every slide of her video work and compose the music by her own self as well. Her works illustrate the typical social phenomena in contemporary Japan, which is many ways have influence cultures around the world through its technology and culture exports such as, needless to say, manga.

Interview of the artist by Moderna Museet, 03.02.2009

Projected images which Lang has taken around the venue/neighbourhood in the past few weeks

Gallery owners Squid & Tabernacle (left & middle) watching Liane Lang (far right) explaining her work to the audience

The next stop is Dalston, and we're at an empty yard area around Hartwell Street where Squid & Tabernacle's pop-up gallery & the Dalston Barn are situated. Liane Lang's photography is on projection inside a container at the yard. She expressed her joy to us when speaking of the project to take photos around the space. Because of the transient nature of the space, the physical settings change every minute so anything she captured could be gone the next time she came back.

Dalston Barn

The Dalston Barn co-ordinator (please leave comment on his name if you know, thanks) introduces the project to visitors

This is a community project which involves local volunteers and talents to materialise a park/event space/passage connecting different parts of the neighbourhood. A truly meaningful project which provides a sense of belonging ad ownership.

Dalston Barn - video link



Momoko Suzuki (鈴木桃子) creating her piece on the wall as we visited the gallery

WW's Debra Wilson and Chiara Williams are both practising and exhibiting artists and have also curated a number of successful exhibitions, on and off-site, including a collateral event at the 53rd Venice Biennale and featured several times in TimeOut First Thursdays.

This group show has a selection of works from 17 artists with the theme "Time". The 17 time-keepers and chroniclers in this exhibition explore the theme through sculpture, painting, video, photography, print, drawing, installation and time-based performance.

Japanese artist Momoko Suzuki was creating site-specific pencil drawing in the gallery at the time we are visiting. The sense of motion of the pattern she drew resembles a fleet of jellyfish in the water. It enhances the art flavour of the space and make it more like an artist's studio than a victorian house.

The Koukan gallery is currently showing her work until 23.07. 


Full photo set here

Further Readings -
The Big Society begins in Dalston by Keiren Long for the Evening Standard, 30.06.2010
Parasol Unit's official twitter
WW gallery's official twitter