Biennale week

Strelka hosts a series of discussions, taking on the architectural ideas presented in the Russian Pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale of Architecture.

This year, architect Rem Koolhaas has curated Venice's fourteenth international biennale of architecture, marking the first time in history when a curator set the theme not only for his own project, but for all of the national pavilions: «Absorbing Modernity: 1914–2014». According to Koolhaas, over the last one hundred years, modernism has spread across the globe, replacing architectural diversity with «the universal language of contemporary architecture».

Strelka Institute served as curator for the Russian Pavilion, which presented the exhibition, «Fair Enough», an atlas of twenty architectural ideas implemented in Russia over the past century. The exhibition covers everything from the attempts to find a Russian style in the architecture of the beginning of the 20th Century, to the creative method of Alexey Shchusev, the architecture of El Lissitsky, the educational program of the Vkhutemas School, Boris Eremin’s concept of “retro development,” Lazar Khidekel’s technology for pre-fabricated structures, the world-renowned Narkomfin Building by Moisei Ginzburg, the Palace of Pioneers in the Lenin Hills, and the Moscow Metropolitan system, among other iconic names and events.

«Fair Enough» is staged like a commercial fair exposition, with every detail revealing something about the history and the merits of the ideas in Russian architecture of the 20th and 21st centuries. The curators invented twenty commercial companies, who, in response to challenges of the present moment, offer up architectural solutions from the past, demonstrating their continuing relevance. During the opening days, the pavilion hosted a performance, where both Russian and foreign architects, architectural historians and critics took on the role of sales representatives for these fictional companies, «peddling» Russian architectural ideas to the international public.

The biennale’s jury recognized «Fair Enough» with a Special Mention.

As part of «Biennale Week», on July 21, in Strelka’s courtyard, «Fair Enough» curators Anton Kalgaev, Brendan McGetrick and Daria Paramonova will join graphic designer Maria Kosareva in presenting the Russian Pavilion, as well as a sampling from some of the most interesting ideas featured within the exhibition. Over the following four days, the curators, as well as participants from the performances and guest specialists, will conduct a series of discussions, testing some of the architectural concepts presented during the exhibition and gauging the reactions of visitors to the Russian Pavilion. The week will conclude on July 26 with a Venetian-style bash in the Strelka Courtyard.

For those who haven’t made it to Venice, throughout Biennale Week, the Strelka courtyard will feature a small replica of the exhibition, where visitors can get a sense of the atmosphere of the Russian Pavilion. 

Photos: Nikolay Zverkov / Strelka Institute