In response to the question posed by the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale “How Will We Live Together?,” the Russian Federation Pavilion has reimagined itself, reconstructing both its architectural and institutional structures across the physical and digital realms.
For the past two years, Open has been exploring the public role of cultural institutions in times of global crisis and considering how we can re-think them through multiple perspectives: the transformation of its own physical architecture, the digital environments that we access daily, and the networks of individuals that populate them.
The Russian/Japanese architecture studio KASA is working to renovate the pavilion—under the supervision of 2050.plus—so that it more closely reflects the vision of Alexey Shchusev, who designed it in 1914. The relationship between the building and its surroundings will be re-established, and a large portion of the pavilion’s spaces will be left empty to showcase the renovation itself. The work will be completed before the opening of the biennale.
Meanwhile, Russian design collective Electric Red, founded by Svyat Vishnyakov and Nastya Vishnyakova, will develop an interactive flag which will function both as a spatial expedient to highlight the architectural renovation and as a symbol for the institutional renewal.
Located on the ground floor of the pavilion will be a gamer station which will stage and reflect on digital gaming environments and their social meaning, specifically within the context of Russia.
Visitors will be able to play three Russian video games: Sanatorium Anthropocene Retreat, Chapter II (2021) created by Mikhail Maximov and commissioned by the Russian Pavilion; It’s Winter (2020) by Ilia Mazo; and Yuha’s Nightmares (2021) by Yulia Kozhemyako (aka Supr). The games will be accompanied by theoretical contributions from Alice Bucknell, Federico Campagna, Emanuele Coccia, Cat Goodfellow, Daria Kalugina, Alina Nazmeeva, and Alexander Vetushinsky.
Conversations and live streams on the topics of the games, gamification, and digital space will stream on screens at the gamer station and will feature on pavilionrus.com, which will act as the digital counterpart of the physical pavilion.
Curated by Vladimir Nadein, the “Into the Sandbox” film program will explore the intersection of cinematography, game engines, digital environments, and processes of gamification. It will feature contributions from Alice Bucknell, Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis, Antoine Chapon, Dina Karaman, Lawrence Lek, Benjamin Nuel, Total Refusal, and Keiken + George Jasper Stone.
In collaboration with game designers Dasha Nasonova and Dmitry Vesnin, multidisciplinary collective Lion & Unicorn developed a digital platform to investigate the public meaning of institutions.
The pavilion will also feature projects by fashion brand Volchok and sound artist Pavel Milyakov (aka Buttechno).
Meanwhile, Voices (Towards Other Institutions) will feature twenty-eight texts released weekly between May 2020 and May 2021 on pavilionrus.com, commissioned from an interdisciplinary cohort of practitioners and thinkers from Russia and beyond. It is being published by Lenz Press and designed by Lorenzo Mason Studio. The contributors are: Ramon Amaro, Sepake Angiama, Paola Antonelli, Alessandro Bava, Daniel Blanga-Gubbay, Giovanna Borasi, Francesca Bria, Alice Bucknell, Konstantin Budarin, Ilya Budraitskis, Anna Kamyshan, Adrian Lahoud, Beatrice Leanza, Chus Martínes & Markus Reymann, Timothy Morton, Gabriella Gómez-Mont, Ivan L. Munuera, Alina Nazmeeva, Elise By Olsen, Marina Otero Verzier, Kirill Serebrennikov, Sergei Sitar, Jonas Staal, Léa-Catherine Szacka, Jenna Sutela, Pelin Tan, James Taylor-Foster, and Oxana Timofeeva.
The 2021 Venice Biennale will run from May 22 to November 21. It comes after the biennale was postponed last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Russian Federation Pavilion continued as an online editorial project at that time, with the physical pavilion transforming into a virtual platform for exchange between artists, architects, and thinkers.
The 2021 Russian Pavilion is commissioned by Teresa Iarocci Mavica, director of the V-A-C Foundation; curated by Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli in collaboration with the curator team (Erica Petrillo, Giacomo Ardesio, Vladimir Nadein, Liza Dorrer, and Dasha Nasonova); and managed by Anastasia Karneeva of Smart Art.