Us dancers, always tend to think that we must stick to training in dance and watching dance in order to increase a pseudo ‘dance culture’ based on what we see and what we do. It is not a lack of interest, nor a lack of education, it is simply because the system we are raised by, (the dance education), is the direct institution responsible for narrowing the way we look at the world surrounding us.

However, I have come to believe that any artist must remain open minded and ready to welcome any new experience, in order to strive in his (or her) own field. This open mindedness is the root to creating new artistic experiences, to open new roads, to invite new audiences, and most important, to stay relevant and re-invent oneself constantly.
(On top of the British pavilion: Island)

For those who have not read my previous article, I summed up my experience at the Biennale di Danza di Venezia 2018 (article just below). I was lucky enough that the dance department is just a tiny part of the bigger festival, which presents an architecture department, putting on display creations from a selection of countries invited: The Biennale di Architettura (of Architecture). It is a huge exhibition, open air and indoors, happening in Venezia’s gardens (giardini) and at the Venezia’s Arsenale (old military fortress).
Each country invited displays a pavilion, result of a creation depending on a yearly theme. This year the theme was FREESPACE.

FREESPACE was incredible to witness for several reasons. First, because it was interesting to see how each country dealt with the same theme in its own ways. You could clearly read cultural, social and political opinions with each pavilion; that added up to each country’s own vision of creativity in architecture. But also because you could read the intention put in each project, sometimes in symbiosis with reality, sometimes in negation with it.
(At the Swiss pavilion)
The pavilion I admired the most was the Swiss exhibition: Svizzera 240: House Tour.
The exhibition space presented a simple empty house, where dimensions and proportions varied as I went from to room. I thought it was simple, but honest, genuine, smart and creative.
I also thought the pavilion was in total rupture with what was expected from the theme, while being the evident description of it: a space where everything is possible and which is yet a social prison from our western societies. In fact, while we live in a time where performance, progress, innovation and competitiveness are key words to succeess; the House Tour simply put on display the reality of our lives, stressing the gaps between our hopes and what we must content ourselves with.
One could really feel the analysis of our modern indoors, which are the direct result of a copy and paste culture, of a middle class eager for urban lives in cities where landscapes are expended following similar patterns, in order to house as many people as possible.
Switzerland really deserved its golden lion (highest recognition from the architecture exhibition). I also appreciate that the indoor was so raw and nude; visitors could just come and go while letting their imagination refurnish and re-imagine each square of the space, which in my opinion was accessible to 100% of the audience, and was the key to the success of the installation.

Of course one of my favorite was also Finland’s pavilion, named Mind-building, inspired from Alvar Aalto’s work. The exhibition had public libraries at the center of their study, it was a way for them to connect free space with education and architecture; two finnish assets, admired all over the world.
Finland played then its strong cards, even though the building hosting the exhibition was very simple, there was no high ceiling, no extravagant structures and the space was small but not confined. It was very much close to nature, built with simple basic material and surrounded by trees and vegetation. Another way to invite the Biennale’s audience into the finnish atmosphere, by bringing a bit of Finland into this beautiful italian garden.
I felt back at home for about 15 minutes, and at the same time I thought the content of the exhibition was really interesting. It also examined the structure of public libraries in terms of urban spatial organisation, the way it affected its visitors in several finnish cities.
At last, I would have hoped for a simpler content. The content put on display offered too much information, and there was a lot of reading material, which I assume was the reason for not awakening as much interest as the other pavilions.
(Finland’s pavilion)
Many other pavilions stuck out in my opinion, such as Germany: Unbuilding Walls; which as its tittle evocates, dealt with the destruction of the wall, the transformation of the german space, but first and foremost with the pyschological effect of its people, and the healing process necessary to the german nation.
The Indonesian pavilion: Sunyata: The Poetics of Emptiness, also awoke my curiosity. Once again, it was a space where our modern mathematical way of thinking had been tared down, and where our brain could just go back to analysing a basic spatial organisation, while appreciating a visual and aural symbiosis.

I hate to make negative comments, because I always feel like artist’s works always come from genuine places, but I do have to say that I did not appreciate a few pavilions, such as Israel (In Statu Quo: Structures of Negotiation) and the USA (Dimensions of Citizenship).
I felt like their exhibitions were a bit hypocrite, they dealt with welcoming others and accepting cultural differences within their own borders. I will not comment on that, but the actual international politico-social context is enough to discredit the arguments they advanced regarding their open mindedness and acceptance towards one another (as in their respective countries).
Of course, the artists who put up the exhibitions might have done so on purpose, to keep hopes up and show the road towards other directions, but I do wish it would have been done in a different way. That being said, it is just my opinion, and it might be as narrow minded as I experienced it in the moment it happened. smiley

Of course there were many other locations, outside of the exhibiting spaces, such as at the Catholic Church Santa Maria delle Presentazione, where the Vatican was exhibiting Holy See: the Vatican Chapels. There were also outdoors exhibtion throughout the city.

(In the last picture, Egypt pavilion: Robabecciah the Informal City)
Finally, I am sure there was more to see and understand than my brain was able to, and I completely ackowledge that these architectural projects are art pieces in devenire, and that they all propose brighter visions and solutions while reflecting on present situations.

I am forever grateful I was invited to visit the Architecture Exhibtion, thank you to la Biennale di Venezia. Being there definitely triggered my brain into thinking about the definitions of free space, as well as placing it in diferent polical and geographical contexts. It opened new paths for my mind to explore, and gave me artistic ideas for future projects.

I recommend to go and visit it when in Venezia, which affirms its important place as a city of creativity and freedom in the world.
I hope I can come back some day,
T.