As a contribution to the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale, Noero Architects showcase two powerful works of art in their exhibition Common Ground / Different Worlds to reveal that architects, and artists alike, work to reinterpret, reinvent and transform preexisting ideas and forms. However, Jo Noero, Principle of Noero Architects, believes that the “difference between good and bad work lies in an understanding of that which is shared and common and the ability to transform these ideas into forms and spaces which are both useful and satisfying within the community in which the work is located.”
Noero spent six months hand drawing a 1:100 plan of the historic shack settlement in Port Elizabeth, known as the Red Location District, as a protest against contemporary architecture’s abandonment of the plan, which Noero describes as the common ground for all architects. Featured alongside the 9m-long drawing is the artwork Keiskamma Guernica, a tapestry made by fifty women from the Hamburg Women’s Co-operative from the Eastern Cape that reinterprets Picasso’s Guernica to illustrate their anger towards AIDS/HIV’s impact on South Africa. The featured film above, titled “Red Location Precinct”, supplements the exhibition by revealing the surrounding context of the district and taking viewers inside the Museum of Struggle, the digital library, an archive and an art gallery that are all part of a complex, designed by Noero Architects, that honors the settlement’s turbulent past and provides surrounding community with opportunities for education, employment, and artistic expression. Continue after the break to learn more.
La Biennale di Venezia: “South African Architect Jo Noero’s work has always been sensitive to the divided and contested urban conditions of his country’s cities, and his installation here reflects thus through two powerful artworks. One is a 9m-long hand drawing, depicting at 1:100 the Red Location Precinct in Port Elizabeth, a project that proposes common ground in a city torn apart by the urbanistic consequences of apartheid. Next to it is the artwork Keiskamma Guernica, a tapestry made by fifty women from the Hamburg Women’s Co-operative from the Eastern Cape. These two meticulous, labour-intensive works are contrasting and complementary pieces of evidence of an urban condition where common ground is not easily achieved.”
Red Location was the first settled black township of Port Elizabeth. It derives its name from a series of corrugated iron barrack buildings, which are rusted a deep red color. These were part of a Boer concentration camp in Uitenhage and moved in 1900 to Red Location, where the first urban lack families settled. It became a site of struggle during the years of Apartheid. Many prominent political and cultural leaders were either born or lived in Red Location.
Film Credits: Created by: Stretch (Stephen Hitchcock and David Long)
Architectural Credits: Architects: Noero Architects (previously Noero Wolff Architects), in association with John Blair Architect Civil and Structural Engineers: Goba, in association with de Villiers and Hulme Quantity Surveyors: Bahm, Tayob, Kahn and Matunda Mechanical and Electrical Engineers: Clinkscales Heritage consultant: Dr Steven Townsend Contractor: SBT
Exhibition Credits: Title: Common Ground / Different Worlds Principals: Noero Architects, The Keiskamma Trust Hamburg Women’s Co-Operative Collaborators: Aaron Factor, David Long Sponsors: Mandela Bay Development Agency