18.02, Architecture

The interdisciplinary teams that will transform the Russian Pavilion at the 2020 Venice Biennale

Following an open call for young architects, the Russian Federation Pavilion at the Venice Biennale has announced an interdisciplinary collective of contributors who will work on the pavilion at the upcoming 17th International Architecture Exhibition.

Titled Open!, the 2020 project at the pavilion focuses on the renovation of the century-old building of the pavilion and aims to spotlight the young generation of Russian architects.

The selected teams, which include architects, academics, designers, activists, and others, will “enter into a dialogue on the function and values of the Pavilion as a temporary institution, and reconstruct both the physical space and the societal purpose of the pavilion,” said the press release released by the pavilion.

Launched by commissioner Teresa Iarocci Mavica and curator Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, Open! responds to the main theme of this year’s biennale—How Will We Live Together?— and offers an experiment with possible modes of coexistence.

This year, the space of the Pavilion will become a temporary architectural office and an in-progress working site. The idea behind the project is to transform the pavilion from a passive exhibition space into a platform for performance and exchange, questioning the way a global event like the biennale relates to national identity and cultural representation.

“The opportunity to redesign the pavilion as a place of aggregation opens up discussions on potentially new modes of existence on the planet,” Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli earlier told Strelka Mag in an interview. “One of the main objectives is to use this year to set up an agenda or protocol for future editions. So I would like to use this opportunity of the reconstruction to rethink the model of what a pavilion can be—and do—in the context of the biennale.”



KASA (Kovaleva and Sato Architects) has been selected out of an open call with over 100 submissions to set up their temporary office inside the pavilion, where they will work on a reconstruction of the building during the biennale. KASA is a young Russian/Japanese architecture office based in Moscow and Tokyo, founded by Alexandra Kovaleva and Kei Sato. For this project they collaborate with fashion designer Maria Pshenichnikova, textile designer Haruka Shoji, structure designer Yoshihiro Fukushima, and preservation architect Ksenija Voronina. Their proposal engages with different models of care towards architecture, people, and ecosystems, by opening up the architecture towards the gardens and the lagoon. Construction on the pavilion is expected to start in November 2020, with the project to be completed during the spring of 2021.

A sketch by KASA

Lion & Unicorn is a multidisciplinary collective that has initiated the development of a digital platform to investigate the public meaning of institutions. The collective consists of Pekka Airaxin, Liza Dorrer, Karina Golubenko, Mariia Kachalova, Anton Kalgaev, Maria Kosareva, and Ivan Kuryachiy, in collaboration with Daria Nasonova. The application will function as a chatbot and allow any visitor to take on the roles of different actors surrounding the biennale, providing insight into the mechanisms and relationships between countries, curators, institutions, and the public. Most of the team members are alumni of Strelka Institute.

Vladimir Nadein is a curator and co-founder/producer of the Moscow International Experimental Film Festival (MIEFF). He will be curating a selection of movies that will be screened in the garden of the pavilion. The program will showcase a new wave of Russian cinema that deals with nostalgia, intimacy, and retreat in the post-Soviet generation, through which a different idea of collectivity emerges.

Mikhail Maximov is an artist and game designer based in Moscow and will present a version of his recently developed gaming platform MOMAM (Museum of Modern Art Massacre), which will be on display in the Pavilion.

Pavel Milyakov (aka Buttechno) is a Moscow-based techno DJ/producer and will give an audiovisual performance during the opening week of the Biennale and participate in a talk. He will also compile a playlist for the architects working inside the pavilion and for the pavilion’s website. With his label RASSVET Records, Pavel provides a platform for local talent, rethinking and exploring the legacy of Russian music.

Vladmir Rannev is a composer and will be working on a sonic image for the institution, generated through an interactive installation that will capture sounds originating from different sources inside and outside of the pavilion, engaging with its architecture and environment acoustically. Through electronics, a musical score is generated that opens up the walls of the pavilion, allowing it to absorb the sounds of its surroundings.

More contributors will be announced closer to the opening date of the biennale. The 17th Venice Architecture Biennale will run from May 23-November 29.

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