Venice Biennale 2012: FAT presents ‘The Museum of Copying’

Venice Biennale 2012: FAT presents ‘The Museum of Copying’
Installation View - Courtesy of FAT

Invited by David Chipperfield, director of the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, FAT has contributed an exhibition to the Arsenale titled The Museum of Copying. Responding to the curator’s theme of “Common Ground”, The Museum of Copying explores the idea of the copy in architecture as an important, positive and often surreal phenomenon. The exhibit will be centered around FAT’s installation, “The Villa Rotunda Redux” – a five meter high facsimile of Palladio’s Villa Rotunda that explores the Villa as both a subject and object of architectural copying.

Sam Jacob, a director of FAT said: “There is a history of copies of the Villa Rotunda that have been important staging posts for architectural culture. We hope to extend this history and explore how copying something is, strangely, a way of inventing new forms of architecture. It also seems sweet to return a bastardised form of the Villa to its original home in the Venito.”

Alongside this, the London-based practice will also present San Rocco’s “The Book of Copies”, an investigative look into four architectural doppelgängers (remember this fake Austrian village in China?) , and Ines Weizman’s “Repeat Yourself”. Continue after the break to learn more.

The Museum of Copying / FAT Text provided by FAT

Showing Mould & Cast Interiors & Exteriors - Courtesy of FAT

For some time FAT has been interested in the idea of the copy in architecture. The copy is a foundation of architectural culture, evidenced for example by the influence of the Grand Tour on the creation of the English Baroque. Copying are repetition is also embedded in the way architecture is produced, in modularity of components and the keystrokes of digital drawing. Yet the copy also threatens fundamental disciplinary concerns of originality, authorship and authenticity. It’s the schizophrenic nature of the copy as the discipline’s perfect and evil twin at once fundamental to architecture and its nemesis that fascinates us.

Titled The Museum of Copying, our project presents a series of projects that investigate the complicated relationship between architecture and copying.

Centrally placed in the Arsenale is FATs large scale facsimile of Palladio’s Villa Rotunda titled “Villa Rotunda Redux”. The Villa Rotunda is perhaps the Ur example of the architectural copy. It is a building composed out of copies – an assemblage of temple and Pantheon, arranged to produce a radically new architectural typology. It has been the subject of multiple exercises in replication across time and space, from Chiswick House (London), through Monticello (Charlottesville) to contemporary examples including Beit Falasteen in the Palestinian Territories. As both subject and object, the Villa Rotunda presents us with an unfolding narrative of architectural copying. On the occasion of the Venice Biennale, we feel it appropriate to return a version of the Rotunda back to Venice in a state resonant with the condition of the copy that Palladio helped to propagate.

The facsimile is fabricated by a process that places reproduction and repetition at its core. A quarter section of the Villa was produced by CNCing a large scale mould. From this, a cast was taken by spraying into the mould with polyurethane foam. The cast and mould are arranged as an installation, displaying the process of fabrication as well as the qualities of positive and negative, of interior and exterior and the abstractions and fidelities of the original Villa, set one against the other.

Alongside this, FAT have curated four parallel projects. Architectural Doppelgängers explores examples of buildings that might otherwise be described as copies, fakes or replicas. Here, the original and double are presented side by side and the unusual stories that motivate the copy are drawn out.

Courtesy of FAT

Ines Weizman explores the relationship of copyright to architecture in “Repeat Yourself”: Loos, Law and the Culture of the Copy. As Loos’ copyright passed into public domain 75 years after his death. Weizman recalls his architectural imperative to “repeat yourself”. The installation examines the place of copyright in architecture by proposing the construction of a facsimile of Loos’ unbuilt House Baker (1928) together with a reconstruction of the legal disputes around the ownership of Loos’ archive and work.

Italian group, San Rocco present The Book of Copies that addresses the idea of influence and recalls 18th century pattern books. The project comprises a library of volumes prepared by invited architects each of whom have assembled photocopies relating to a thematic building typology laid out as loose leaf fiches. Readers assemble their own version of the Book of Copies by selecting pages from this library and photocopying these photocopies.

FAT’s Museum of Copying explores the idea of the copy in relation to the Biennale theme of Common Ground, arguing that copying is a force that creates common architectural language and is simultaneously the site within which radical reinvention occurs.

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Cite: Karissa Rosenfield. "Venice Biennale 2012: FAT presents ‘The Museum of Copying’" 26 Aug 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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