Following the announcement that the swimming pool—"one of Australia’s greatest cultural symbols—will form the foundation of the Australian Exhibition at the 2016 Venice Biennale, more information has been revealed about what will be presented.
According to the organisers, "eight prominent cultural leaders from various fields have been selected to share their personal stories, using the device of the pool as a platform to explore the relationship between architecture and Australian cultural identity." These include Olympic swimmers Ian Thorpe and Shane Gould, environmentalist Tim Flannery, fashion designers Romance was Born, authors Christos Tsiolkas and Anna Funder, Indigenous art curator Hetti Perkins and musician Paul Kelly.
"Each narrative", they continue, "touches on a different scale the scale of the body to the scale of the continent and together all reveal the myriad meanings and impacts of the pool on Australian society; as a means to enable survival in an unforgiving landscape, to tame our environment, to provide spaces that facilitate direct contact with nature, to create democratic social spaces, but also spaces for healing racial and cultural division."
"Recognisably Australian, The Pool is joyful, celebratory and accessible. It is also a setting for the sharing of stories, tales of personal and collective struggle, of community building and transformation and refusal of the status quo. The Pool as an architectural device delimitates a social edge and a personal edge. It is this metaphorical and literal edge condition that we want to explore and share with the audience at Venice. The pool represents a condition of surplus and of scarcity in the same form, which makes it very interesting." The aim of the exhibition is to step outside the architect-to-architect discourse to "show how a familiar, common object, the pool, is in fact pregnant with cultural significance, it is both artefact and catalyst of change."