Fair Enough: An Expo of Ideas

27.05.2014, 20:14
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The 14th International Architecture Exhibition directed by Rem Koolhaas and organized by la Biennale di Venezia will open to the public from June 7 through November 23. Rem Koolhaas chose for the 14th International Architecture Exhibition topic Fundamentals. Fundamentals will be a Biennale about architecture, not architects. It focuses on histories – on the inevitable elements of all architecture used by any architect, anywhere, anytime and on the evolution of national architectures in the last 100 years. In 1914, it made sense to talk about a “Chinese” architecture, a “Swiss” architecture, an “Indian” architecture. One hundred years later, under the influence of wars, diverse political regimes, different states of development, national and international architectural movements, individual talents, friendships and technological developments, architectures that were once specific and local have become interchangeable and global.

Сountries-participants will engage a single theme – Absorbing Modernity: in favour of the almost universal adoption of a single modern language in a single repertoire of typologies. 66 National Participations will be exhibiting in the historic pavilions of the Giardini, the Arsenale, and the city of Venice. Among these, 10 countries will be participating in the Exhibition for the first time.

The Curator for the Exhibition in the Pavilion of the Russian Federation at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition  is Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design. Curator team – Anton Kalgaev, Brendan McGetrick, Daria Paramonova – called the Exhibition «Fair Enough».

According to their idea since 1914, Russia has established itself as the world’s largest and most radical urban laboratory. Decades of experimentation have produced architectural solutions for almost any demographic need or social ambition. These efforts are undertaken at great cost, and their usefulness is often undersold. Rather than presenting a linear story of Russia’s modernization, Fair Enough applies architectural history to meet needs. The exhibition takes urban ideas from the past century – some celebrated, some obscure;

some seemingly outdated, some supposed failures – and gives them new purpose. To maximize its utility, each exhibited project is stripped to its conceptual essence. To illustrate their continued relevance, the concepts are updated and applied to challenges now confronting architects around the world. For easiest exchange, Russia’s architectural innovations are expressed through the universal language of the international trade fair.

Visitors enter the pavilion and are greeted by a receptionist who welcomes them and provides a badge and program. Once inside, visitors encounter a scene consistent with commercial fairs around the world – carefully defined booths of different sizes and levels of energy and ostentatiousness, all united through a single system of pre-fabricated wall panels and standardized signage.

The scene itself is a response to national pavilions’ curatorial theme: the exhibition addresses the issue of “absorbing modernity” by adopting the language of what is perhaps the ultimate manifestation of modernity – the international trade fair, a truly universal typology in which multimillion dollar medical equipment and artworks, imitation mobile phones, chemicals, canned foods, and curtain wall are all exchanged. As they relate to architecture, the international exhibition and commercial expo share much in common; in Russia they have essentially merged, with visions for urbanizing the country’s interior presented in a context of carpet samples and molding catalogs. In Russia’s pavilion, we present exhibition as expo: each booth showcases a different example of our modern architecture, illustrated through a combination of historical and new materials, and described to visitors by a representative who preaches the virtues of the concept, provides its history, and connects it to contemporary needs. The trade show runs throughout the first week of the biennale then gradually shuts down, leaving an abandoned post-fair environment filled with flyers, pamphlets and catalogs that visitors can explore at their leisure, accompanied by the exhibition’s audioguide app.

Fair Enough is an expo of ideas. Each exhibit marks a milestone in modernization and clears a path for new efforts. Together, they form a marketplace of urban invention – made in Russia, open to the world.

General partner of the project for the Russian Pavilion at the XIV International Architecture Exhibition in Venice is Gazprombank.

You could download press materials here.