Curators Reveal Theme for Inaugural Baltic Pavilion at 2016 Venice Biennale

Curators Reveal Theme for Inaugural Baltic Pavilion at 2016 Venice Biennale, Lasnamae – Tallinn, 2016. Image © David Grandorge
Lasnamae – Tallinn, 2016. Image © David Grandorge

The Baltic Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale, representing Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, will explore the "transformative efforts at play" that are currently "reprogramming an inert region beyond the delineations of separate nation states." It "intends to explore the built environment of the Baltic States as a shared space of ideas." Located in Enrichetto Capuzzo's Palasport Arsenale Giobatta Gianquinto, a Brutalist architecture sports hall located next to the Arsenale, the exhibition will also be accompanied by a series of related events that will be presented in the form of a cross-section through Baltic space unfolding as "a non-linear stratigraphy."

Venue: Palasport Arsenale Giobatta Gianquinto. Image Courtesy of Bing Maps
Venue: Palasport Arsenale Giobatta Gianquinto. Image Courtesy of Bing Maps

According to the curators—Kārlis Bērziņš, Jurga Daubaraitė, Petras Išora, Ona Lozuraitytė, Niklāvs Paegle, Dagnija Smilga, Johan Tali, Laila Zariņa, and Jonas Žukauskas—"recent geopolitical developments around the Baltic States have created a sense of urgency in the initiation of new spatial practices that unite the region and underpin the foundations of the European Union." New infrastructural connections in the Baltic Sea, such as ‘FSRU Independence’, the natural gas storage ship in Klaipėda, and ‘Rail Baltica’, the pan-Baltic railway project are among many examples of this new kind of architecture.

Future track of Rail Baltic – Riga, 2015. Image © David Grandorge
Future track of Rail Baltic – Riga, 2015. Image © David Grandorge

The Baltic Pavilion will attempt to unravel the conventions and instruments operated by a wide range of spatial practices, industries, and infrastructures that are actively transforming the built space of the three Baltic States and wider region. Without distinguishing between abstract ideas and their material projections, the exhibition will seek to distill parameters and thought structures that enable formulation of a range of spatial interventions to reconfigure the inert built environment.

Decommissioned Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant Unit 1 Reactor, 2015. Image © David Grandorge
Decommissioned Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant Unit 1 Reactor, 2015. Image © David Grandorge

Curatorial Statement

There are transformative efforts at play that are reprogramming an inert region beyond the delineations of separate nation states. The Baltic Pavilion intends to explore the built environment of the Baltic States as a shared space of ideas. This exhibition and a series of related events will be presented as cross-section through Baltic space. In the light of the Anthropocene, a new geological epoch, the developments in this region will unfold as a non-linear stratigraphy.

Transformative Efforts

Recent geopolitical developments around the Baltic States have created a sense of urgency in the initiation of new spatial practices that unite the region and underpin the foundations of the European Union. New infrastructural connections in the Baltic Sea, ‘FSRU Independence’, the natural gas storage ship in Klaipėda, and ‘Rail Baltica’, the pan-Baltic railway project are among many examples of this new kind of architecture.

The Baltic Pavilion will attempt to unravel the conventions and instruments operated by a wide range of spatial practices, industries, and infrastructures that are actively transforming the built space of the three Baltic States and wider region. Without distinguishing between abstract ideas and their material projections, the exhibition will seek to distill parameters and thought structures that enable formulation of a range of spatial interventions to reconfigure the inert built environment.

Inertia

Some elements of this built environment are too inert to be completely reorganised at once – the infrastructures, cities and transport links are functioning but are simultaneously demanding certain practices to at least maintain them in stable condition. At the same time these structures also determine future possibilities. The Baltic Pavilion is interested in the ecology of practices that inscribe new policies into existing material assemblies through procedures such as addition, transition, translation, integration and assimilation – making use of what is already at work.

Realia

Realia could be understood as a particular material object or idea – linguists use the term to highlight structures that are untranslatable from one language to another. The intersection between power structures, ideologies and resistances on one side and the assembly of things on the other result in realias as authentic responses to specific material parameters. This project proposes reading of spatial interventions as realia – formed in relation to a place.

Region

The common denominator for the international team working on the Baltic Pavilion is a specific relationship to the Baltic region as starting point of inquiry – it is an attempt to re-articulate architecture while responding to the logic of a particular place. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania share common processes of the political, economic, cultural and infrastructural transformations – from the central planning of the Soviet Union to the current 'governmentality' of the EU.

Perhaps the phenomena of the shifting definition of Baltic countries is a double fold – from outside it is clearly addressed as one region while from the inside it is often understood as three separate quests for identity. Thus the project is an attempt to link the contrasting concepts while analysing the condition for integrity of the Baltic States through relations to a wider context.

Anthropocene

The project takes a geological approach – it reads things that compose this flat landscape as a stack of stratigraphic layers. The man-made space is understood as a sedimentary process and the infrastructures, as well as the mineral resources, are assessed as the key parameters defining a development. The Baltic Pavilion exhibition functions as an intertwined section through the current entanglement of identities, spatial practices, infrastructures and geological resources.

Horizon

The exhibition will present a horizon of artifacts – a field that can be observed as a version of what is at work – an image of realias and their links. The exhibition passages will propose structured reading of artifacts while at the same time opening up new interpretations. Multiple representations of realias will be structured into a gradient from subjective, artistic images to diagrammatic, operative images. The pavilion will feature an installation linking the horizon of artifacts to particular narratives.

Example of a Passage

Upon entering the pavilion visitors will encounter photographs made by photographers who travelled the Baltic region in the early spring of 2015 to subjectively frame the junctions between industries, man-made landscapes, and the flow of resources and industrial residue.

We then turn towards precise operative images that industries use as part of their operations. On entering the area presenting artifacts debating nuclear energy and its relation to the civic consensus on dismantling a nuclear power plant, a decision made in favor of the European integration process.

Tracing the changing role of geological survey institutions in relation to mineral resources, we see how particular stratigraphy and mineral extraction technologies are opposed by civic movements.

In the middle we circle around a model of a single ship that brings into motion extensive and inert energy supply networks while reducing individual energy bills. The buildings are presented as case studies articulating complex flows of resources required to maintain the status – to understand them not as singular end products but as inert spatial scripts.

Palasport (Arsenale) Giobatta Gianquinto

The Baltic Pavilion will inhabit the Palasport Arsenale, Giobatta Gianquinto – a brutalist architecture sports hall located next to the main Arsenale exhibition grounds. The tall concrete wall, cast in-situ, features an upright perimeter extrusion provides a stepped piazza – a clearing in dense historical city fabric. Designed by Enrichetto Capuzzo, the building is actively used by the Venetian community for sports activities since the 1970s. The Baltic Pavilion provides the occasion for its doors to be opened to visitors of the International Architecture Exhibition for the first time.

Cite: James Taylor-Foster. "Curators Reveal Theme for Inaugural Baltic Pavilion at 2016 Venice Biennale" 25 Feb 2016. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/782686/curators-reveal-theme-for-the-inaugural-baltic-pavilion-at-2016-venice-biennale/>