The Journal of the British Pavilion, 12th International Architecture Exhibition
Vanessa Chase Lilly Lottie Child Adrian Dannatt Liza Fior & muf Robert Hewison Jane da Mosto Rebiennale Vicky Richardson Wolfgang Scheppe Anna Somers Cocks Stephen Wildman
I have had indirect influence on nearly every cheap villa-builder between [here] and Bromley; and there is scarcely a public-house near the Crystal Palace but sells its gin and bitters under pseudoVenetian capitals copied from the Church of the Madonna of Health or of Miracles.1 And one of my principal notions of leaving my present house is that it is surrounded everywhere by the accursed Frankenstein monsters of, indirectly, my own making. J ohn Ruskin (1819â€“1900), letter to the Editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, 15 March 1872, written from his home in Denmark Hill, South London.
1 Churches referred to: Santa Maria della Salute and Santa Maria dei Miracoli
Contents at time of publication1
in the British Pavilion
Foreword 2 by Vicky Richardson of the British Council
Two Way Traffic
Venice and Ruskin
THE STADIUM OF CLOSE LOOKING
by Liza Fior and Katherine Clarke of muf
by Robert Hewison
Ruskin’s Venetian Notebooks Online by Stephen Wildman of the Ruskin Library
The Narration of the Done.Book 10
RUSKIN AND GAVAGNIN WINGS
by Wolfgang Scheppe
Life in the Lagoon 14 by Jane da Mosto
THE VENICE LAGOON
The Venice in Peril Fund – The British Committee for the Preservation of Venice
by Anna Somers Cocks of Venice in Peril
Street Training 26
The Casa delle Zitelle by Vanessa Chase Lilly
CASA DELLE ZITELLE THE FEMININE UNDERCROFT
A Conclusion 37
by Lottie Child
by Marco Baravalle with S.aL.E.-Docks and Rebiennale
by Adrian Dannatt
Collaborators Sponsors Credits
38 40 40
1 With respect to Dame Edna’s Bedside Companion
London, echoing the way that Ruskin’s Stones of Venice infiltrated British architecture in the 19th century, or the quietly subversive influence of situationist Ralph Rumney in the 20th century. Villa Frankenstein is a means of transport, a meeting place for ideas and often counterposed interests. So a group of scientists, led by Jane da Mosto, will ‘take advantage’ of the Pavilion to explore the connections between the fate of Venice and its lagoon and to discuss the methods and techniques for measuring water levels in Venice. While the Venice-based artist Wolfgang Scheppe, takes advantage of the opportunity to publish Done.Book, which is based on making parallels between two obsessive observationists, John Ruskin and Alvio Gavagnin. In June teachers from two Venetian schools – San Zaccharia and the Instituto Comprehensivo Dante Alighieri – took part in workshops at the Pavilion led by the performance artist Lottie Child. They have been invited back for the autumn term and in October we hope to run the first Venice Big Draw – the event founded on the 100th anniversary of Ruskin’s death to honour his commitment to drawing. At the heart of the Pavilion is the Stadium of Close Looking, a structure based on a 1:10 scale model of the London 2012 Olympic Stadium re-purposed as a drawing studio. Here we hope to focus the mind and the eye on Venice, but also on the idea that strategy and detail are intimately linked. Perhaps the stadium, which has been constructed by Venetian carpenters Spazio Legno, is a subtle reminder of muf’s alternative proposition for the 2012 Olympic site. After the exhibition we hope that – with the help of the Venetian collective Rebiennale, which salvages and reinvents discarded material from the biennales – the structure will find a permanent home in Venice. Even before the Biennale has opened muf’s exhibition has already had a tremendous impact. It has introduced us to our Venetian collaborators: community activists, scientists, teachers, historians, artisans and artists. It has shifted our perceptions of Venice from being merely a historic backdrop to the Biennale, to that of a living, dynamic place where ideas are still being forged and things still being made. As our collaborator Jane da Mosto points out, the city exists in symbiosis with nature. But it also defies the idea of what is natural and possible. Venice is the ultimate human experiment that takes us beyond the limits and low horizons of the present. I want to express sincere admiration and gratitude to everyone who has given their time and expertise so generously.
Vicky Richardson Commissioner, British Pavilion, 12th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice 2010
I am delighted that the first Venice Architecture Biennale of my tenure as Director of Architecture at the British Council should take as its subject Venice itself. Muf’s British Pavilion explores not only the city’s historical relationships with the UK, but the situation of Venice itself as archipelago and sinking manmade city; a series of mud banks that have given birth to one of the most iconic and alluring architectures in the world. Villa Frankenstein references John Ruskin, one of many British writers, artists and architects who have been obsessed by Venice. The title alludes to his regret that his great work, The Stones of Venice, spawned widespread copying by speculative builders in South London. Here, in the title’s barbed warning against the potential dangers of literal cultural translation, is the first indication of the project’s aim to connect with the specific experience of Venice. In February this year, soon after we appointed muf, I visited Venice for a day for a survey of the site. I was amazed to see the exhibition grounds strewn with bags of rubbish and building materials. A deserted wasteland, disconnected from the city, but which had originally been designed as a public park. In 2009 the artist Steve McQueen drew attention to this alternative biennale mode with a double-screen projection, Giardini, which was shown in the British Pavilion and is now jointly owned by the Tate and the British Council. The film focuses on the yearly abandonment of the site, emphasised by packs of wild dogs roaming between the decayed and graffitied pavilions. But if the Giardini still seems isolated from Venice, then muf has tackled this distance directly, ‘taking advantage’ of the British Pavilion, as co-Director Liza Fior says, to make connections between the Biennale and Venetians, and between Venice and Britain. I have been swept along by muf’s intense intellectual and practical exploration of Venice, by their sense of ambition and their refusal to compromise. For muf, the Biennale started the moment they were approached for a submission – two weeks before Christmas 2009 – and will carry on long after the exhibition closes its doors on 21 November. Ideas will travel back to Britain and become part of the practice’s work in East
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Two Way Traffic Liza Fior, Katherine Clarke muf architecture/art Llp
Even before John Ruskin and The Stones of Venice and even after Ralph Rumney, sole British foundermember of the Situationists (expelled by Guy Debord in 1958 after failing to file his ‘psychogeographical’ survey of Venice on time), the British have been intensely preoccupied with Venice and in different ways have taken Venice home, creating a two way traffic of ideas, knowledge and experience that has left its mark on both archipelagoes. Our response to the British Council’s invitation has been to attempt – and we say ‘attempt’ advisedly: Venice is rich in failures – to make the British Pavilion itself a platform for ongoing two way traffic. We have exploited the three months of the Biennale and the five months of preparation for it as an opportunity for research and knowledge-sharing, and have set the Pavilion up – simply by making it available and by furnishing a series of prompts – so that Venice with all the discussions of its possible futures can in its turn take advantage of our contribution to the Biennale. With uncharacteristic obedience to Kazuyo Sejima’s brief People Meet in Architecture, we have spent the weeks since our commission assembling the collaborators and their agendas. They have in common a concern with ecosytems, both natural and social. All remind us that Venice is a living but fragile city – subject to not only rising water levels, but to grand plans, and busy with discussion of the future, responses to mass tourism, transport, the state of the state, resources for schools and public services, and how to respond to a trajectory of development that is common both to tourism and to gentrification and regeneration. But like Ruskin and those who went before and after him, we too bring with us our own preoccupations, formed outside a Venetian context and, refashioned, will take them away again.
On approaching the London Olympic site from almost any direction, the crenellated silhouette of the Olympic stadium1 lodges itself on top of unlikely bases, creating with existing structures hybrids that hold the promise of the new. Even as we write, post-Olympic uses are being sought for the spaces hidden in these foreshortenings to ready them for post-Olympic occupation.
The Pavilion as extended building Just as language does not reduce to what you find in a dictionary or grammar book, a building is always more than the lump of stuff that occupies its footprint: it extends outwards into its physical and social surroundings which in turn reach back into it. (An example being the inclusion of the model Casa delle Zitelle in the exhibition attributed to Palladio but argued here to have been built by women for women).
1 The Olympic Stadium is designed and constructed by Team Stadium, a consortium of Buro Happold, Populous and Sir Robert McAlpine.
Foreword / Two Way Traffic
Though we haven’t built a stile for visitors to the Pavilion to climb over the Giardini fence, instead, in a law-abiding way the pavilion reaches beyond the building line – the Pavilion as a means to explore the city – and have contrived ways for the city in its turn to breach the Giardini boundary.
Muf has a standing preoccupation with the temporary as a mode of reflection on the fixed. The temporary can be described as a test of the possible, a means to suspend disbelief and experience the risk of the unknown; an opportunity for the commitment-phobe to discover the value in what’s already there. As a masterplanning tool, the temporary is a means to introduce occupation into inert development sites and ensure that the fragile but desirable programmes of play, culture, the bucolic, the ‘off-menu’ (normally the first to be ‘value-engineered’ out of a project) are inscribed in the site and put into safekeeping pending a return to an alternative normality, once a vacant site has established a value around which development can be generated. This reverse form of masterplanning establishes strategy through detail: use is described through use. The Stadium of Close Looking itself, its bulk pressed into the Pavilion’s former palm court, is a 1:10 model of London’s Olympic Stadium repurposed for children’s drawing. It is also at one and the same time an invitation to look and an emblem of the value of looking – the value of starting by registering the assets you already have before making the next move. The Stadium of Close Looking plays out Katherine Shonfield’s equation detail / strategy = Detail, and is thus a mode of reflecting critically on existing models of masterplanning – how can detail can inform strategy? What is the relationship between largescale, arms-length visions and proposals (which Venice attracts) and the value of close looking? The buckets of chalk in the Campo SS Giovanni e Paolo remind us that the whole city, which contains so few playgrounds, is itself a playground and a classroom. Venetian schools are currently dealing with the pressures of budget cuts. The Pavilion offers the extra of drawing lessons, thereby offering the thing which pressures on budgets has made missing. The British Pavilion can seem like a carefully maintained holiday home: each summer, cases are unpacked and packed again and the villa redecorated, leaving no trace of occupation. Our collaborations have each made things which not only have a life beyond the Pavilion but will have an afterlife beyond the Biennale, Wolfgang Scheppe in the piece of work made for the pavilion, a body of research concluding in the Done.Book, book sculpture makes this explicit. So the pavilion plays host to scientific and public meetings on the future of the lagoon and to a section of live saltmarsh, ensuring that the subject under discussion is present in the building, its tidal activity replicated by pumps
Public space is always contested space So we did treat the invitation as an opportunity for another muf project, process-driven, speeded up to fit the Biennale timetable, and not for the representation of a muf project. As such we don’t at this stage know how it will turn out. It is a public space project in that it attempts to make the Pavilion more public, to maintain in parallel different uses of it in such a way that they can coexist with one another rather than flatten one another, and so demonstrate that public space can be a platform for more than one agenda at a time. There is always contrivance in any participative project. We began with two seemingly very different organisations, the British Committee for the Preservation of Venice and Rebiennale. But both are similarly concerned with the fragile ecologies of the city, as are all the other collaborators who have been gathered together (including Ruskin). The unexhibited project is the process of trying to get it right: the making of relationships, the redeployment of budgets – Made in Venice (every object that was not brought with us from Britain) was financed by adding to the usual budget the allocations for shipping costs – the getting of permissions, the rocky path of collaboration itself, the establishing of what is missing in order that the thing proposed both fits the context and is sufficiently open-ended to allow future use after the designer has gone home. This process could describe any of the public realm projects in the studio just as well as it describes the period of our engagement with the Biennale. The certi ficate of authorization for moving the salt marsh in this catalogue is a clue as to what it involved. The Stadium of Close Looking Like Ruskin and those who went before and after him, we bring with us our own preoccupations, formed outside a Venetian context and, refashioned, will take them away again. Some of these are made explicit in the Stadium of Close Looking. At a moment when architecture in the UK and especially in London is less about building and more about what to do with inert sites and (with the exception of the Olympics) abandoned capital programmes, it is more important than ever to value what is there, before the plan, the masterplan, the strategic framework take hold.
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and its lagoon water replenished. At the end of the biennale the marsh will be returned to the Lagoon and the discussions of its role in the ecology of Venice recorded-we’ll see if this was a useful forum. The exhibition structure was made in Venice, and after the Biennale it will be repurposed with Rebiennale to begin a second life somewhere else in the city, the finding the right place is a project in itself.
– – – THE STADIUM OF CLOSE LOOKING – – – The Stadium of Close Looking is a one-tenth scale model of the London Olympic Stadium – repurposed as a drawing studio and lecture room for public gatherings convened by Pavilion collaborators. Rather than steel this version has been custom built in timber by Spazio Legno, specialists in the revival of specifically Venetian carpentry, as a humanist détournement of corporate ‘leisure’ architecture. As a multi-scaled hybrid this structure could be seen as sculpture, a lifesize ‘model’ of an architectural model, and as exemplar of muf’s turning over of the grand plan, offering instead a proposition based on detail and closelooking. The Stadium thus acts as an adjustment to the Pavilion itself to extend and invigorate all potential ‘uses.’ It simultaneously acts as a critique, not only of the London Olympics but also a recent cacophony of large-scale proposals both for Italy and Venice itself, whether the forthcoming Expo or the 2020 Olympics.
Villa Frankenstein What we bring we will also take home again, transformed through the filter of Venetian preoccupations. Muf remains awake to the potential dangers of this process: Villa Frankenstein refers to Ruskin’s horror, 30 years after publication, at the effect The Stones of Venice had had on London’s architecture. But whatever the risks involved, there seem bound to be Venetian exports. Some of these are being programmed – research in the former Royal Docks to reconnect the everyday life of the city to the water, starting with a boat sailing from Woolwich to Rainham Marshes (August); the Forum for Alternative Belfast (FAB) undertaking mapping in Belfast and Venice with Queens University and IUAV students (October); the Street Training Manual (Venice/ Whitechapel), drawing on Venice as a precedent for the city as playground and classroom to refine muf’s approach to bringing play to the design of the street (September). Others have been adventitious, for example using Ruskin to argue for an approach to signage for restored buildings which acknowledge layers of use; discussions about how a fragment of a pavilion might be used – say the Stadium of Close Looking ends up in one of the schools which has been using it for drawing – is discussion of a micro ‘legacy issue’; and of course legacy uses for the real stadium and the Olympic site – which, like the pavilions with its repair regime, was cleansed, effacing continuities - continue to be sought.
– – – – – – – – – – LO STADIO DELLO – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – SGUARDO RAVVICINATO – – – – – – – Lo stadio dello sguardo ravvicinato è un modello in scala uno a dieci del London Olympic Stadium, riproposto come atelier di disegno e sala conferenze per gli incontri pubblici indetti dai collaboratori del Padiglione. In legno anziché in acciaio, questa versione è stata realizzata su misura da Spazio Legno – specialista nel riportare in vita l’arte della falegnameria veneziana – come détournement umanista di un’architettura collettiva ‘di svago’. Ibrido multiscala, questa struttura può essere vista come una scultura, come un ‘modello’ a grandezza naturale di un’opera architettonica, e come esempio di capovolgimento del progetto grandioso messo in atto da muf, per offrire al suo posto una proposta basata sul dettaglio e la visione ravvicinata. Lo Stadio è dunque un adattamento del Padiglione volto ad ampliarne e rinvigorirne tutti gli ‘usi’ potenziali. Esso costituisce una critica non solo al London Olympics, ma anche alla recente cacofonia di proposte su vasta scala che hanno coinvolto l’Italia e la stessa Venezia, che si tratti della prossima Expo o delle Olimpiadi 2020.
This catalogue is evidence of the temptation to fix the meaning of this project, But the project is a process, which began before the exhibition and will continue after it is over. We may not be in a position to finally say what it means until the energies and content of the pavillion have been released and transformed into other things. Observation is proposition, the personal is political and detail is strategy. We would like to express our gratitude to all those collaborators who entered into this experiment with us, and to wish well to those who take advantage of the pavilion in the months to come.
Two Way Traffic
Venice and Ruskin: a dialogue across time and place
– – – – – – – – – – JOHN RUSKIN – – – – – – – – – – – Ruskin’s ideas about art and society were shaped by his study of Venice, and in turn, his ideas shaped those of his fellow Victorians about the values that Venetian culture represented. But sometimes, things could be lost in translation. He had persuaded British architects of the virtues of Venetian Gothic, only to find that the Gothic style was being reproduced in Britain, without what he saw as the Gothic moral substance. It was wrong to put Gothic windows into London pubs, or pretend that factory chimneys could be disguised as Venetian campanile. He denounced the cheap suburban villas being built in mock-Gothic as “Frankenstein monsters of, indirectly, my own making”. Venice too, began to feel the pressures of modernization. As he grew older, Ruskin grew angrier, dying in January 1900 despairing that he had not been able to do more to preserve the aesthetic and moral values of his beloved city.
Robert Hewison Professor of Cultural Policy and Leadership Studies, City University London
In 1877 Ruskin told his Venetian friend Count Alvise Zorzi that he was ‘a foster-child of Venice. She has taught me all that I have rightly learned of the arts which are my joy’. Published in Venice, in English and Italian, these words are part of the conversation between the writer and the city that continues to this day. The exchange began before he first visited Venice in 1835, and went on long after he last saw the city in 1888. In 2010, the British Pavilion extends that dialogue, across time and place. At first, Venice led the conversation. Words and images, translated into the poetry of Byron and the paintings of Turner, constructed a city of the imagination. Byron promoted la leggenda nera, the black myth that made Venice herself responsible for the destruction of her thousandyear republic at the hands of Napoleon. The story was that sexual corruption and the black doings of her secretive government had dethroned the Queen of the Sea. The adolescent, evangelical Englishman found consolation for his thwarted romantic passion in the city’s picturesque decay. The fall of Venice offered itself as a suitable Protestant text. Yet Venice whispered her enchantments still, and when Ruskin returned for a third time in 1845, now a young but established art critic, he became alarmed by the city’s encounter with modernity. The construction of a railway bridge across the lagoon broke the liquid seal of the city’s urban integrity. Turner’s vaporous Venice was now visible by gaslight. The railway bridge brought reality. It also brought revolution; the heroic revolt against Austrian domination in 1848 that, defeated, left shell holes in the canvasses of the Scuola di San Rocco, where, in 1845, Ruskin had felt the epiphany that converted him to Tintoretto and Venetian art. He returned as soon as he could, in the winter of 1849, determined to recover the history of the damaged city through its architecture – what he called that ‘distinctively political art’. There was a job to be done. He found there were few literary authorities to turn to for the
––––– Ruskin dichirò di sentirsi un bambino “allevato da Venezia. È stata lei ad insegnarmi esattamente tutto quello che ho imparato riguardo alle arti, che sono la mia gioia.” – e le Pietre di Venezia sono il testamento di ciò che Venezia gli ha insegnato. In Inghilterra, tuttavia, Ruskin notò che alcune di queste lezioni erano state imparate un pò troppo bene. Si rese conto di aver persuaso gli architetti britannici delle virtù del Gotico Veneziano solo per trovare i dettagli del Ca d’Oro trasmessi sulla facciata di un edificio pubblico o i ricami gotici di ghisa abbellire i condotti di un gasometro. Egli denunciò le ville economiche dei sobborghi come “mostri di Frankenstein, creati, indirettamente, da me stesso.” Ma questa voleva essere di più di una semplice obiezione estetica. Il fatto che i comignoli della fabbrica di Croydon dovessero parodiare il campanile di Venezia significava che il drago industriale non era stato eliminato. Sebbene ispirato da San Giorgio e consolato da Sant’Orsola, dopo il 1877, Ruskin cadde in depressione, poi nella follia, infine nel silenzio, morendo nel gennaio del 1900, mentre il nuovo secolo iniziava il lento lavoro erosivo sulle pietre della sua amata città. ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
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early history of the city, and few of those agreed. He had to construct his own narrative, not by writing, but by looking. A botanist and geologist, as well as a draughtsman, he declared: “the greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds can talk for one who can think, and thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, philosophy, and religion, – all in one”. In the winter of 1849–50 he began an intensive scrutiny of the Gothic architecture of Venice. It was a daily exercise in close looking, drawing and measurement, in order to establish an architectural morphology that would sequence the development of Venetian architecture from its Byzantine roots to its flowering in the Ca’ d’Oro and the Ducal Palace. To establish a history of Venetian architecture he had to exchange the aesthetic appeal of his early drawings of Venice for the analytical focus on detail that we see in his notebooks and worksheets. The notebooks have returned to Venice for this exhibition, as well as being given a new lease of life in electronic form (see p. 9). From the hundreds of fragments that he captured Ruskin was able to create a new narrative, one that follows the archetypal arc of struggle, of rise, of power and glory, and then decline and fall. But his version shifted the apex of the ascent back from the 18th century to the 16th, before a revived Classicism – in Ruskin’s terms, Paganism – destroyed the organic unity of Gothic harmony with the hard edges and straight lines of Palladian symmetry. The tidal dialogue between Venice and the sea went on as before, but her weed-wrapped stones muttered a warning. Ruskin’s architectural argument was a challenge to received wisdom, as was his attack on the utilitarian industrial processes that had turned natural, imperfect Gothic craftsmen into the shattered particles of men that serviced the machinery of the Industrial Revolution. He predicted that Britain, the triumphant mercantile Venice of the 19th century, would succumb to the vainglorious pride that ruined its predecessor. Ruskin’s close interrogation of the stones of Venice generated aesthetic and moral lessons that are as relevant to the 21st century as they were to the 19th. Completed in 1853, The Stones of Venice opened a fresh dialogue between Britain and Venice that led to a fresh appreciation of Venetian architecture, and a heightened interest in visiting the city, which continued to adapt and grow in response to the demands of modernity. Modern
Ruskin’s Venetian Notebooks 1849–50 The Ruskin Foundation (Ruskin Library and Research Centre, Lancaster University)
Venice and Ruskin
time shaped contemporary place, and when Ruskin revisited the city in 1869, 1870 and 1872 he began to see that the romantic decay he had witnessed in adolescence was being replaced by a new threat, a ‘restoration’ that killed the buildings that it was intended to cure. When, in 1876, he returned for another winter and spring of study, such as he had spent when writing The Stones of Venice in 1849–50 and 1851–52, Ruskin’s argument became a polemic. Now he was in daily dialogue with Venice: a young Venetian, Count Alvise Zorzi, had alerted him to the imminent repair and reconstruction – which for Ruskin meant destruction – of the west façade of St Mark’s, the marble icon whose description and exploration forms the pivotal point of The Stones of Venice. Together, Zorzi and Ruskin plotted their protest, a publication written and printed in Venice, Observations Concerning the Internal and External Restorations of St Mark’s (Osservazioni intorno ai ristauri interno ed esterni della Basilica di San Marco). Published on St Mark’s day in 1877, it halted the proposed ‘regularisation’ of the façade and the erasure of its intricate textured surfaces. Working in partnership, Ruskin and Zorzi saved St Mark’s even before the intervention of William Morris and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings made the issue an international cause célèbre. The dialogue between Ruskin and Zorzi helped to lay the foundations of modern approaches to architectural conservation, but the conversation between Ruskin and Venice was not one way. In the myths of two of Venice’s favourite saints he found a way to articulate his public, and also his private, passions. In the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni the Dalmatian St George, who by slaying a dragon and rescuing a princess returned a waste land to life, gave him the metaphor he needed for his battle with industrial capitalism. He would slay the dragon, and return the environment to health. He established the Guild of St George, whose statutes are a version of the Venetian marieogola, as the vehicle for his campaigns, and it continues to this day. It was the modern Guild of St George that set going the Campaign for Drawing that will animate the Pavilion with exercises in observation and practical engagement with contemporary Venice. Through St Ursula – like St George, brought to life by the paintings of Carpaccio – Ruskin found a resolution to a private quest. He had abandoned the rigidities of his early evangelical faith, and given his heart to a young girl, Rose La Touche, but, rejecting Ruskin, she died the year before he returned to Venice in 1876. The legend
of St Ursula tells of a devout young virgin, betrothed to a Pagan English prince. The prince accepts conversion, but both are martyred before their marriage can be consummated. As he closely studied Carpaccio’s painting of The Dream of St Ursula, the saint became a spiritual go-between for Ruskin and the dead Rose La Touche. Ruskin and Zorzi slew the dragon of the intended restoration of St Mark’s; St Ursula, in deep communion through Carpaccio’s paintings, offered him consolation, and gave him back his faith in an afterlife. In England, Ruskin found that some of the lessons of The Stones of Venice had been learned too well. He had persuaded British architects of the virtues of Venetian Gothic, only to find the details of the Ca’ d’Oro translated to the frontage of a public house, or cast iron Gothic crockets embellishing the shafts of a gasometer. He denounced the cheap villas of the suburbs as ‘Frankenstein monsters of, indirectly, my own making’. But this was more than an aesthetic objection. That the factory chimneys of Croydon should parody the campanile of Venice meant that the industrial dragon had not been slain. Though inspired by St George, and consoled by St Ursula, after 1877 Ruskin fell into depression, then madness, and then silence, dying in January 1900 as a new century began its work on the eroding stones of his beloved city. Yet the story of Venice that Ruskin evolved through the dialectic of past and present still holds out hope. It is a Biblical story of Paradise Lost, but the Bible ends with revelation, redemption and Paradise Regained. The jewelled city of Ruskin’s Venice may exist only in the imagination, but it exists as a symbol of the possible, an emblem of what might be, if Ruskin’s lessons are rightly understood. Beside it stands the actual Venice, where the dialogue between people and place shapes the eternal encounter between history and today. In the preface to St Mark’s Rest, the ‘fourth volume’ of The Stones of Venice, begun in the city in the winter of 1876, Ruskin argues: ‘great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts; – the book of their deeds, the book of their words, and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others; but of the three, the only quite trustworthy one is the last’. In the British Pavilion, ironically reframed as one of Ruskin’s Frankenstein villas, you will find deeds, words and art. Out of this dialogue, between past and present, Venice and Ruskin, Italy and Britain, a new and trustworthy narrative waits to be created.
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Ruskin’s Venetian Notebooks Online Stephen Wildman Director of Ruskin Library and Research Centre, Lancaster University The online edition of Ruskin’s Venetian Notebooks aims to make available to scholars and others with an interest in 19th-century Venice and cultural and architectural history, a resource for understanding John Ruskin’s work and working practices. www.lancs.ac.uk/depts/ruskinlib/eSoV/index.html In the care of the Ruskin Foundation, the Ruskin Library at Lancaster University holds a large proportion of the material made by Ruskin in preparation for his three-volume study The Stones of Venice (1851–53). Chiefly this consists of eight highly detailed small notebooks, one larger notebook (the M Book) and 81 out of just over 200 of the individual ‘worksheets’ devoted to particular buildings, mostly made in 1849-50. A digitisation project was initially completed in 2008, resulting in the online resource shown here. This incorporates other material, from the Beinecke Library at Yale University (the M2 Book) and the Ruskin Museum, Coniston. Historical commentary, maps and modern photographs complement Ruskin’s text and images. Supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, it was carried out in the Ruskin Centre at Lancaster University, U.K., by Ian Bliss, Roger Garside and Ray Haslam, with Sarah Quill as consultant.
Top: Ruskin, Worksheet No. 17: Notes on the Ca’ d’Oro 19 November 1849 The Ruskin Foundation (Ruskin Library and Research Centre, Lancaster University) Bottom: Gothic tracery in the first-storey loggia of the Ca’ d’Oro, 2010 Photo: Cristiano Corte
Ruskin and Venice
The Narration of the Done.Book – The Ruskin Wing vs. The Gavagnin Wing
– – – – RUSKIN AND GAVAGNIN WINGS – – – – Wolfgang Scheppe, artist and philosopher, has been invited by muf to present his own section within the Pavilion. This relates two different comprehensive and obsessive archives on Venice. The first consists of a series of documentary photographs taken systematically since the 1970s by an inhabitant of the Via Garibaldi area (adjacent to the Giardini hosting the Biennale), a workingclass neighbourhood with little resemblance to touristic Venice. These are related to selected pages from 19th-century notebooks by John Ruskin on Venice, especially those he has marked ‘done’. Both are impressive deeds of optimism towards the cognitive means of the image. Both bear testimony of a moral commitment towards representing the city.
Wolfgang Scheppe Artist and philosopher based in Venice
My entire delight was in observing without being myself noticed – if I could have been invisible, all the better. John Ruskin, Praeterita, Vol. I, Chapter IX, (1885–1889)
The Castello Basso quarter – the off-beat section of one of Venice’s big sestieri: literally, sixths – is in many ways a restricted area, segregated from the rest of the city. It is cut across and bounded by three organisations of space through power, which hold the autonomous, organic outgrowth that is this finely textured Venezia Minore in a powerful grasp. The process of creating larger islands from smaller ones by filling in the surrounding saltmarshes, which form Castello Basso’s physical foundation, took place later than the construction of the nucleus of Venice, from which the quarter is separated by the institution which gave it its economic raison d’etre: the Arsenal, the secret walled location of the gigantic shipyard, which was the basis of the power-political and economic ‘hothouse for the strong’, as Nietzsche called the city.1 It was the largest pre-industrial manufacturing installation in the Western world,2 a machine in constant production, whose teeming host of workers, steaming vats of tar, foundries and red-hot forges Dante made into an emblem of Hell. The entire shipyard was a closed military zone until its opening for the Art Biennale,3 and about a third of it remains so even now. It drives a wedge into the city thanks to which Castello Basso, one of Venice’s two most populous areas, is still connected to the rest of the city only by a single narrow alley. With its mediaeval Marinaressa workers’ settlements and its bleak social housing of the 19th and 20th centuries still known as the palude (swamp), the inaccessible residential area
– – – L’ ALA RUSKIN E L’ ALA GAVAGNIN – – – L’artista e filosofo Wolfgang Scheppe è stato invitato da muf a presentare la propria sezione all’interno del Padiglione. Essa riguarda due diversi archivi dettagliati e ossessivi su Venezia. Il primo consiste in una serie di documenti fotografici raccolti in maniera sistematica a partire dagli anni Settanta da un abitante della zona di via Garibaldi (adiacente ai Giardini che ospitano la Biennale), un quartiere popolare che poco somiglia alla Venezia turistica. Questi documenti si collegano a pagine scelte dei taccuini ottocenteschi di John Ruskin su Venezia, in particolare quelli da lui contrassegnati con la parola ‘fatto’. Entrambi sono straordinarie prove di ottimismo verso gli strumenti cognitivi dell’immagine. Entrambi testimoniano un impegno morale a rappresentare la città. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
1 Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, (1888), (Oxford: University Press, 1998) p. 65. 2 Up to 30,000 efficiently coordinated labourers worked in the largest industry of the Venetian Republic. Cf. Robert C. Davis, Shipbuilders of the Venetian Arsenal, (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1991) 3 48. Biennale di Venezia, 1999, curator: Harald Szeemann,
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quarters. A large number of public campi, market squares, alleys with shops or workshops, scuole and parishes gave each sestiere full and equal status as a living unit. In fact the Giardini soon declined and became overgrown, so for all that the area lost its religious gathering places, its relative isolation was left unaltered. The area’s loss of identity, however, can be read in the constant changes in the name of the main street: once filled in, the original Rio di Sant’Anna became Rio Terra, then turned under French rule into the Via Eugenia (after Eugene de Beauharnais, upon whom Napoleon had bestowed the title of Prince of Venice), was rechristened Strada Nuova dei Giardini under the Austrian occupation and finally became Via Garibaldi when Venice joined the Kingdom of Italy in 1866. The third far-reaching political appropriation of the available-seeming because sequestered area took place thanks to Mussolini’s shoreline esplanade. In 1937 the paved embankment, extended all the way to the Giardini, gave the quarter a pompous frontage in precisely the place where its modest rear with its small shipyards had once been. It is a frontage that faces outwards and that, as a national border secured by temporary fences and patrolled by uniformed guards, can be shut off from Castello, because half of it falls under the jurisdiction of the harbour authority and functions as a international seaport with cruise ships that dwarf the small gothic dwellings. The shabby recesses of this historic habitation thus bear the stamp of three different incarnations of political power, palpable expressions of relations of political and economic domination. Because abstract principles are expressed in them, they are – to put it in Hegelian terms – real abstractions: visible objects, which nonetheless manifest the abstract logic of the different ways in which society has been historically constituted. Inside the remarkable triangle carved from the ancient, compact urban fabric by their three intersecting lines live Alvio Gavagnin and his wife Gabriella. Many years ago I noticed Alvio Gavagnin as he sold things in the Via Garibaldi market. Displayed on his stall were fragments of an apparently all-inclusive collection, including a series of carefully constructed large boxes labelled ‘Foto Vere’, and containing many thousands of photographic prints. It was this indication that he valued an obsolete medium that caught my attention. My first impression was correct: once upon a time Gavagnin had learnt to take and to develop photographs from a local newspaper photographer, and had gone
north of Via Garibaldi forms a segregated working-class township hidden away behind the rearing fortifications of the Arsenal. Thanks to the intervention of the Napoleonic administration after the end of the Republic, the quarter was set apart from the rest of Venice for a second time. Anticipating Italian fascism and its prophet Marinetti, Napoleon set out a grand plan for enlarging the Arsenal and thereby developing Venice into an enlightened, rationalist metropolis designed to function as the central industrial port of the Adriatic. In its head-on collision with the extreme modesty of the area’s already existing buildings, the regime’s imperial masterplan for Castello is a caricature of Haussmann’s monumental axes and green spaces. By filling in and paving over the central canal, the Rio di Sant’Anna, the mid-point of the residential area was turned into a grandiloquent boulevard – today’s Via Garibaldi, by far the widest street in Venice – and from there, at a right angle, a breach was created in the dense closed-off warren of mediaeval streets to make way for an avenue originally envisaged as six lanes wide. An architectural demonstration of power by means of symmetry was thus thrust into an asymmetrical gothic wilderness, sacrificing a series of churches, cloisters, convents and monasteries4 which can still be made out on Merian’s Prospect of the Topography of Venice (1650) and on Stockdale’s English map5 from shortly before the fall of the Republic. This corridor opened the way to another foreign body, the sixty thousand square metres of green space which are the Giardini. At its far end, the rubble of the demolished sacred buildings was piled up to form a hill, a belvedere overlooking the subject city, transmuted now into an empty cultural sign. Constructed according to a model of the public garden which the Napoleonic regime rolled out across the conquered cities of Italy all the way to Apulia, the Giardini were conceived as a Venetian Central Park, in stark opposition to the internal order of the city. For unlike the typical fortified mediaeval ‘urban container’ – Lewis Mumford’s term for any walled settlement – Venice’s location on water meant that it did not need fortifications, and this that made possible the articulation of the city into a multiplicity of self-organizing urban 4 Various sacred sites within the public gardens have been converted: the church and monastery of San Giuseppe a Castello or San Isepo was rededicated in 1801. The church and monastery of Sant’Anna became a ‘casa di educazione per i cadetti della marina’ in 1806 and the church was converted into a gymnasium. The church of San Gregorio became a mint. The church and monastery of Santa Maria delle Vergini had been given to the Navy in 1806 as well as the church and monastery San Daniele, with the church subsequently being destroyed in 1839. 5 John Stockdale, Plan of the City of Venice, (Piccadilly, 1800).
The Narration of the Done.Book
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on doing so, with improvised and partly homemade equipment, over a period of thirty years. He took photography to be a form of representation that, by way of traces left by light on a sensitive surface, connects with its object in a special way: a palpable causal chain linking the representation with what it represents. In that, for him, lay its truth. Photography was thus ideally suited to serve him as the means by which to take possession of external things and absorb them into his collection. The collection built up by Gavagnin and his wife fills every inch of their little house with its innumerable taxonomies of the everyday - its hoards of local death notices, vaporetto tickets, newspaper cuttings with articles about Venice, bits of old packaging, images of saints, guidebooks, record sleeves with views of Venice and so on, boxes and boxes of it all – and the same style of side-by-side arrangement which characterises the collection he applied to his photographs too. The thing that amazed me about these images from the very first time I examined them was the fact that they turned their backs so completely on the iconic power of the environment which forms their subject matter. The picturesque quality of this excessively photogenic city that has become a copy of itself burns itself inevitably into almost every picture that’s made there. From Gavagnin’s documents of the city, of its refuse, of its everyday irregularities, this quality is very strikingly absent. The reason for this is Gavagnin’s distinctive lack of interest in the formal qualities of his images. What mattered to him was only the represented, never the representation. Any visible trace of authorship would have marred the presentness of the object itself. This attitude kept him safe from the hazards of aesthetic ambition. He never cared about showing his pictures. Whether in files, in the boxes, in homemade albums or in the lists that he and his wife worked on constantly, simply placing the pictures in the system was his real aim. As notes taken from a standpoint of absolute detachment, the images were spared from enrolment in the pictorialist canon which even now seems to supply amateur photography with its aesthetic rule-book. By way of his study of Turner and the emancipation of his own artistic grasp of reality, Ruskin too distanced himself from the ‘confectionary idealities’6 of the picturesque. The projection into the object of subjectivity he treated as a pathetic fallacy, which merely expressed ignorance of the laws of nature.
By contrast Ruskin regarded his own practice of sketching simply as the ‘written notes of certain facts’.7 Style was for him a way of hanging on to the codified prejudices of second-hand experience, which could only get in the way of the process of drawing and of its result, the picture as a privileged mode of acquaintance with the objective world. A kind of blindness: ‘Travelling with sealed eyes’.8 This idea of the visual gathering up of states of affairs also lies implicit in the way Gavagnin’s accumulation of images focuses on the minutiae of the city. A devotion to the particular is common to Gavagnin and to Ruskin’s work on Venice, which achieves a correspondence between the moral integrity of Gothic craftsmanship and the exactness of the watching intelligence that observes it. Alongside his constant association of beauty and morality, Ruskin assessed every form of visual representation by its truth content. ‘Fidelity to a certain order of truth’9 is for him the reason why ethics and aesthetics are one. ‘The word truth, as applied to art, signifies the faithful statement, either to the mind or senses, of a fact of nature.’10 The neutral registering of facts on the way to seeing is a requirement for any objective mode of thought. Gavagnin’s photographs achieve this: they have only literal meaning. Both Ruskin and Gavagnin could say this: ‘My entire delight was in observing without being myself noticed. – If I could have been invisible, all the better.’11 For this standpoint of pure registering, Ruskin coined the term ‘the innocent eye’. Gavagnin has never thought about the uniqueness of what he has done. That he has undertaken it all in a close and lifelong partnership with his wife Gabriella recalls the Bechers: one must think of them as existing in a state of innocence, when their documenting obsession had not yet received the honorific title ‘art’. Much later, the Gavagnins entrusted the photographic part of their collection to me. Only gradually did I begin to grasp its background and the history with which it is connected. The Gavagnins pursued their interest in the city with the help of Giannina Piamonte, a Venetian mathematician, intellectual and self-taught art historian who had written a number of books on the architectural history of Venice. However much the chaos-in-order of the Gavagnins’ collecting mania may seem to be a sign of 7 R uskin in Italy, Letters to his Parents 1845, ed. H.I. Shapiro, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 189. 8 Robert Hewison, The Argument of the Eye, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), p. 38 ff. 9 Ibid., p. 64. 10 John Ruskin, Library Edition, vol. 3, p. 104. 11 John Ruskin, Library Edition, vol. 35, p. 166.
6 The Works of John Ruskin, Library Edition, ed. E.T. Cook, A. Wedderburn, (London: George Allen, 1903–1912) Vol. 9, p. 45.
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arbitrariness in their choice of objects to single out for attention, there was in fact a strictly thought-out plan behind their photographic sorties: working with Piamonte, the Gavagnins exploited the directories which list the artistic and architectural particulars of the city in a continuously numbered series, house by house, wall by wall, area by area. In many parts of the city these house numbers go over ten thousand. With this information they made lists which they followed in sequence on their walks, a piece of fieldwork carried out in a group which often included not only Piamonte but the Gavagnins’ children as well. Piamonte’s name for the collective subject of these city wanderings was ‘I Alvi’. As they went on, they kept detailed records of lost or missing sculptures, demolished houses and miscellaneous information about things as they found them. After developing the prints from a given expedition, they transferred their notes on to the verso of the photos that they had stamped ‘I Alvi’, and then destroyed them. The ‘I Alvi’ stamp is comparable to Ruskin’s ‘Done’ mark, which distinguishes something as visually pinned down and thus finished from the wide ocean of the unfinished, as represented by the continuing challenge of his thousands of sketches. The product of this way of proceeding was typically a handmade book. At the origin of this enterprise stood – again as with Ruskin – a longing for completeness, driven by the need to crystallize for the sense of sight something unstable and transitory in the moment of its vanishing, and the task of bringing to a halt the passing of things fell to the image. It was in the nature of the enterprise, however, that it should remain incomplete, and its tangible result is an archive of about five thousand selected photographs of the two most populous sestieri, Cannaregio and Gavagnin’s own Castello. Giannina Piamonte died in 1998. The impact of the strangeness and meticulous attentiveness of these photographs, which knocked me sideways all that time ago, has never left me. Nor has the impact of their meticulous attention to what others have overlooked which, all that time ago, knocked me sideways because I myself, laboriously and via the intellectualistic byways of the history of photography, had developed a way of looking at the reification of economic crisis in the streets of New York. In the overlap between the two archives, Gavagnin’s and Ruskin’s, the shape of a Third Term can be made out, that has connections with the specific depth of both: in their spreading out cross the city, its terrain is represented, because their obsessiveness took on – as it could not
The Narration of the Done.Book
help doing – the form of endless movement in the space, in which alongside all the planning and goal-directedness there also lies an element of self-surrender to its laws and complexity. The recording archivist becomes a register, and the city’s identity inscribes itself in his collection of visual fragments as if it were a subject. This accident was conceptualized in situationism and in Walter Benjamin: as the flaneur and the symptomatic author of the dérive who wanders, lost, thereby becoming able passively to register, like a piece of recording apparatus, the objectified powers of the city to which he succumbs. In contrast to Gavagnin, Ruskin was able to identify in an explicitly theoretical way the walls of Venice as fossilizations of political power. In the trace elements of past labour, he deciphered the political transition from a constitutional monarchy into a hereditary aristocracy, as defined in the Libro d’Oro and completed with the closure of the Maggior Consiglio in 1297. It was the stonemason’s petrified gestures which enabled Ruskin to recognize the architecture of the Renaissance, in contrast to the spirituality of the Gothic, as a façade of power based on alienation and the division of labour. ‘The Renaissance frosts came, and all perished.’12 In hindsight he could have served as a model of what Guy Debord and the situationists imagined as the psychogeography of a city.13 Wolfgang Scheppe’s Done.Book is published by the British Council and Hatje Cantz to coincide with Villa Frankenstein at the British Pavilion.
12 John Ruskin, Library Edition, vol. 9. p. 278. 13 It is a paradox that the only ever realised psychogeographical atlas by the Situationists also used Venice as its subject: Ralph Rumney, The Leaning Tower of Venice, (Paris: Silverbridge, 2002).
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Life in the Lagoon – a General Outline
– – – – – – – THE VENICE LAGOON – – – – – – – – The section of the Pavilion dedicated to life in the Lagoon explores the common theme of detail and perspective while also informing visitors about Venice’s unique situation. Before, during and after the exhibition, these threads will be woven together to create a body of knowledge intended to improve our understanding about the distant future – of Venice and elsewhere. The Lagoon installation recreates, for the first time ever, a few square metres of naturally occurring saltmarsh – called barena in Venice – arranged specially to show its myriad features and functions almost in the way a bird would experience it: close up in time and space. At the other end of the spectrum, satellite imagery of the entire Lagoon and hinterland is featured. In addition, a historic map and details of recent scientific approaches to the Lagoon, together with a collection of birds that inhabit the barena, illustrate the importance of – and context for – ‘close looking’.
Organised by Jane da Mosto with Scientific Advisors Lorenzo Bonometto, Andrea Bonometto, Tom Spencer With support from Venice in Peril, Museo di Storia Naturale, Venezia and Cambridge University
Amidst the splendour and magic, it is difficult to remember that Venice was founded in adversity, on tiny islands amidst swamps, out of reach of the marauding barbarians from northern Europe. These early settlers were able to contrive extraordinary advantages from this unlikely setting making the Venetian Republic one of the most astounding achievements in government, empire and indeed culture. The interventions of man in the Lagoon throughout this period, in building palaces and maintaining navigation routes, carefully observed the underlying symbiotic relationship between the islands of the city and their surrounding environment, harnessing and channelling natural processes where possible. But the sheer scale of human interventions since the last century have by now called into question to what extent has the Lagoon been ‘anthropicised’ and must the so-called natural dynamics be maintained – or what will happen if they are ignored? The Venice Lagoon is, above all, extremely complex. It is a place of transition between terrestrial and aqueous environments, fresh and saltwater systems, human intervention and a natural ecology that is simultaneously resilient, versatile and delicate. A unique type of ecosystem has emerged that supports a rich biodiversity, including certain species that are only found here. There are also other species that depend specifically on the Lagoon for key stages in their life cycle and a large number of species found in the Lagoon that are highly rare elsewhere in the Mediterranean. The historic and cultural marvel of Venice makes it easy to overlook the fact that the Venice Lagoon is a world-renowned wildlife habitat. It is the largest wetland in Italy and one of the most important coastal ecosystems in the whole Mediterranean region. This is ostensibly one of the most studied coastal wetlands of the world due to the longstanding interrelationship with human activities, its unique biodiversity and
– – – – – – L A LAGUNA DI VENEZIA – – – – – – – La sezione del padiglione dedicata alla vita nella laguna e, come noi la vediamo, esplora il tema comune del particolare e della prospettiva, illustrando contemporaneamente ai visitatori la straordinarietà di Venezia. L’installazione Laguna ricrea, forse per la prima volta, alcuni metri quadrati di una palude salmastra formatasi naturalmente – che a Venezia è detta barena – appositamente allestita per mostrare le sue infinite caratteristiche e funzioni quasi come le vivrebbe un uccello: ravvicinate nel tempo e nello spazio. All’estremo opposto, vengono proiettate immagini satellitari della laguna e della gronda. Tra queste due visioni, una mappa storica e spiegazioni dettagliate degli approcci scientifici utilizzati per la comprensione dei processi lagunari serviranno, insieme a una collezioni di uccelli che abitano la barena, a illustrare l’importanza – e il contesto – dello ‘sguardo ravvicinato’. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
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The Venice Lagoon in 1555 by Cristoforo Sabbadino; showing the beginning of the river diversions to stop the whole lagoon from silting up
The Venice Lagoon in 1763 by Angelo Emo; showing how the barrier islands between the lagoon and the Adriatic Sea and the inlets themselves were constantly shifting according to sediment transport and accumulation patterns
The Venice Lagoon in 1971 by Hydrographic Office, Magistrato alle Acque; showing how water flow has been concentrated by interventions at the inlets and the dredging of rectilinear navigation channels.
The Venice Lagoon
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Courtesy Ufficio Idrografico e Mareografico (Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri), now part of Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale – Servizio Laguna di Venezia
The Venice in Peril Fund – The British Committee for the Preservation of Venice
conspicuous government funding of safeguarding measures since the 1980s. Observed changes in the Lagoon, especially rapid and marked since the mid-20th century, are the result of direct human intervention, induced consequences of other human activities and natural processes. To grasp, and address, the challenges for Venice a solid understanding is necessary as regards the dynamic and complex interactions between the city, the Lagoon, bordering mainland and Adriatic Sea. Not just in terms of physical processes but also the chemical and biological ‘metabolism’ of the Lagoon. The Italian expression ‘the appetite comes with eating’ is wholly apt when studying the Lagoon system. Recently there have been advances in scientific theory together with more finely-tuned ‘data sets’ from increasingly detailed physical, chemical and biological monitoring programmes. These do as much to expose intractable, underlying complexities in cause-effect relationships as to clarify other trends and variables. It is imperative that the detail and sophistication of these advanced techniques like ‘remote sensing’, ‘real-time digital data collection’ etc. does not exclude human scale evidence like the experiences of fishermen and rowers who inhabit the Lagoon on a regular basis and can accomplish more complicated assessments than any computer modelling. To facilitate this integration of diverse information, the British Pavilion will host a series of workshops to address open questions concerning Venice and her relation to the Lagoon. Appropriately these will take place in the Stadium of Close Looking, against the backdrop of the Lagoon installation. This is a significant opportunity for Venice to debate its current situation and possible futures. And ideally it may also produce tools and experience that can be transferred to the UK, or indeed wherever there is a similar need to envision viable futures in a complex environment and historically rich framework.
Anna Somers Cocks Chairman, The Venice in Peril Fund
Venice in Peril finances restoration projects as well as research into the underlying problems of Venice, such as flooding and managing tourism. We lobby for a long-term approach to protecting the city, both as a monument and a living community. The Venice in Peril Fund, the British Committee for the Preservation of Venice, was created after the great flood of 1966, when waters were waist-high throughout the city. Since then the Fund has given millions of pounds for the restoration of Venetian monuments, buildings and works of art. The Fund is also committed to ensuring the sustainability of Venice by communicating internationally on key issues and working with scientific bodies such as Cambridge University. Our latest project, with Jane da Mosto, independent expert, and Dr Tom Spencer of the University’s Coastal Research Unit, is an investigation of how conditions in the Venice Lagoon affect the historic city. Aside from the flooding problems, the urban fabric of Venice is seriously challenged by chronic, and rising, water levels that accelerate its decay. Through our research and communication projects, we try to articulate the key issues and trends affecting Venice in order to stimulate coherent policy making for the long-term future of the city and lagoon system. The message Venice in Peril wants everyone to understand is that Venice is so fragile, in physical, environmental and even socio-economic dimensions, that it will survive only as long as we want it to survive and are prepared to devote a great deal of money and planning and political energy to looking after it. www.veniceinperil.org
Left: Authorisation by the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport to take plants from the saltmarshes of the Venice Lagoon for the tank re-creation, and return them after the exhibition closes.
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fig 1 a
fig 1 b
fig 1 c
Image plate 1 – Salt Marsh Tank
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Image plate 2 – Development of Pavilion
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Image plate 3 – Spazio Legno
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Image plate 4 –Rebiennale
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fig 21 fig 20
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Plate 1 – Salt Marsh Tank
Plate 3 – Spazio Legno
fig 1 a
Schematic diagram of saltmarsh vegetation Courtesy Lorenzo Bonometto
fig 1 b & 1 c
Tank cross sections showing supporting structure and materials for vegetation and varying quotas Courtesy Lorenzo Bonometto
Engineer’s drawing of technical specifications for tank construction in steel and wood Courtesy Atelier One
Plate 2 – Development of Pavilion fig 3
The London Olympic Stadium as seen from the west
The process of building the Stadium of Close Looking at Spazio Legno’s Venice workshop Photos: Cristiano Corte
Plate 4 – Rebiennale fig 17–19
Morion is an occupied warehouse in Venice, where Rebiennale, along with others, reuse and re-appropriate materials to create new structures Photos: Cristiano Corte
Plate 5 – Child in the City fig 20–24
Children repurposing the urban realm as a natural playground Photos: Liza Fior, Cristiano Corte
Photo: Liza Fior
Drawing the Olympics, organised by Isobel Manning, August 2010 Photo: Isobel Manning
The Life Room at the Royal Academy Schools, London Courtesy Redfern Gallery
Section of the British Pavilion as drawn by muf
Image plate 5 –Child and the City
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– – – – – – – – STREET TRAINING – – – – – – – – – Lottie Child, based in Bethnal Green, but actively teaching everywhere from Linz and Munich to Rio and São Paulo now expands her practice of Street Training to encompass the parallels and oppositions between the everyday urban actions of Venice and London. Whether just talking to strangers or dancing at the bus stop or indeed at the Vaporetto dock, Child takes local people on sessions to practice and exchange the little things we do to keep ourselves safe & sane, make ourselves laugh and improve our experience and the quality of the public spaces we inhabit. Whether adopting the gait of an Venetian aristocrat or deploying the deportment of a Dockland worker, Child quite literally inhabits the body of both cities. ––––– Lottie Child ha sede a Bethnal Green ma insegna attivamente in tutto il mondo da Linz e Monaco di Baviera a Rio e San Paolo, ed espande ora la sua tecnica di street training con lo scopo di comprendere le analogie e le opposizioni tra la quotidianita’ urbana di Venezia e quella di Londra. Che si tratti di parlare con estranei o di danzare alla fermata dell’autobus o addirittura al pontile del vaporetto, Child conduce gli abitanti di queste due citta’ attraverso un’esperienza di esercizio e di scambio di quei piccoli gesti che ci fanno sentire sani e sicuri, che ci fanno ridere e migliorare la qualità e la percezione che abbiamo degli spazi pubblici che abitiamo. Sia che adotti l’andatura di un aristocratico veneziano o emuli il comportamento di un lavoratore dei Docklands, Child letteralmente abita il corpo di entrambe le città. ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Top to bottom: School teachers feel the city with their eyes closed as a way to experience it in detail. Venetian children demonstrate techniques for being joyful in the streets. Photos: Lottie Child
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Then there was a football game between a boy of about six and a man – whenever the ball went off course a passer-by would send it back in the right direction, nothing remarkable about this – a natural impulse that is pretty much impossible in central London. I was resisting my urges to copy children’s movements. I’ve been practicing what might be called ‘phenomenological ethnography’ – I worked hard at it for four months in Brazil, emulating Capoeira masters, dancers and receiving instruction in how to walk and dance from girls in favelas. Because I think it is possible to understand a culture through reflecting on how it feels to enact the body movements of its people. Years emulating my Capoeira master have changed my body and mind in many ways. Of course a woman moving in the ways I’ve described means something totally different to when a child does it, but I wonder what life could be like if we stayed open to urges to move and feel? Can the movements of children be clues to uncovering desires beyond conventional street behaviour for all of us? When a woman talks of ‘desire’ and ‘street walking’ in the same paragraph it has to have clear connotations. Can a multiplicty of desires be lived with liberty, without conforming to restricting norms of behaviour, behaviours that may be scripted beyond us and perhaps not always best serving our humanity? I felt like an arch tourist, making my covert little videos of the play I was interested in. And later I spotted two kids playing in a calle, one of them performed and confirmed the roles – mine of ‘consumer of spectacle’, his as actor and enactor of the fairytale city. He came and turned cartwheels for me, for my camera. His smaller sister was drawing in wax crayon all over the step in front of her door. I sat with her and asked if I could join in. We drew together, her brother joined us and soon we were all turning cartwheels and making backbends down the walls. Passing the video camera from hand to hand the performance was for and by us together for a while. Their mum came and introduced herself and invited me back tomorrow, she sent them to accompany me to Via Garibaldi and we found leaflets for paper planes on the way, a few Capoeira kicks and spins were demonstrated and we said goodbye. It was half-past nine at night and groups of children were still walking in the streets together.
Lottie Child Artist
Modesty of gaze, voice and bearing were equated with virginity and were to be guarded just as heavily, since each could ruin a woman’s reputation just as easily. A woman’s reputation was not just her own but her entire family’s, for familial honor rested in the chastity of its women. A maiden was thus to be above all other things chaste. In addition to castità, pudacitia, vergogna, sobrietà, modestia, and pietà were virtues all virgins should seek, ociosità, loquasità, audacità, curiosità, il discorrere quà e là, vices from which they should flee. These same characteristics by and large were expected of all other women, be they wives, widows or nuns. Chastity and enclosure defined a woman’s life. anessa Chase Lilly; Casa delle Zitelle: V Gender & Architecture in Renaissance Venice (2002)
I desire then that women in every place, at all times, and in all their actions, show modesty; that is to say they ought to do this easily, in standing still, in going about, in speaking, in their eyes, in their face and finally in all the movements of their body. F rancesco Barbaro’s 1415 tract De re uxorial. Citing antique authors Plato and Virgil, Barbaro stated that ‘the most gracious virtue is found in the most beautiful body.’ Yet comportment too was a sign of the soul.
Arrived in Venice yesterday and felt overwhelmed, I felt so awake. In the afternoon I went for a walk and within two minutes there was loads of play going on around me. Some small children – maybe four and five years were on the ground outside a bar on Via Garibaldi, they were rolling around and falling over on purpose. Excellent martial arts training – we forget how to fall and fear it as we get older. Good clowning too, especially the little girl who rolled on her back and opened her legs as wide as she could – then the little boy mirrored her. Like the Opies1 say in their book The Language and Lore of Children – sometimes they really have their own culture – here it was somewhere between martial arts, being animals and clowning.
1 Peter Opie, Iona Opie, The Lore and Language of School Children (London: Oxford University Press, 1959)
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Casa delle Zitelle
– – – – – – – CASA DELLE ZITELLE – – – – – – – – Casa Zitelle is a unique example of a structure devised by women for women, unique not only within 16th century Venice but Renaissance Italy if not Europe. Vanessa Chase Lilly’s essay explores issues of gender, architecture and Venice inherent and latent to muf’s practice and pavilion. A model of the Zitelle may be found here as well as a short work by Venetian filmmaker Delfina Marcello, direct descendent of one of the female founders of the Casa.
Vanessa Chase Lilly Art Historian
All in all, there is no city in the world more beautiful to look at, nor more marvelous to contemplate, nor more safe to live in, nor more comfortable to stay in, nor more rich, nor more magnificent nor more divine comparatively. O Venice, abode of liberty, temple of religion, true shelter of peace and tranquility!
––––– Casa Zitelle è un esempio unico di struttura ideata da delle donne per altre donne, unico non solo all’interno della Venezia del Cinquecento, ma di tutto il Rinascimento in Italia, se non addirittura in Europa. Questo saggio, di Vanessa Chase Lilly, indaga su questioni di genere, di architettura e su Venezia, inerenti, e latenti, alla pratica dello studio muf e al padiglione. Una copia di Casa Zitelle si può trovare all’interno dell’arena dello stadio, così come un cortometraggio della regista veneziana Delfina Marcello, diretta discendente di una delle fondatrici donne della Casa.
Cornelio Frangipane 1
When Cornelio Frangipane, an emissary from the Venetian territory of Friuli, addressed Doge Francesco Donà in the mid-16th century, he described Venice through the device of a Petrarchan love poem, drawing his beloved city’s attributes from an idealised political ideology now known as the Myth of Venice. Just as Petrarch imagined Beatrice perfect, untouchable and inspiring in her eloquent silence, this myth imagined a female city of Venice who dazzled and inspired. Formed by Venetians over the course of centuries, it held that Venice was a virgin city, protected by her natural mate, the sea, immutable in her laws, and allowing freedom and justice for all. The Myth was a powerful tool; it was manifested in every aspect of state from political rhetoric to the very walls and ceilings of the seat of government. Gender was an integral code of signification for the Myth and its makers. While residents of other cities celebrated their special relationship with the Virgin, only in Venice was her identity elided with that of the city.2 That Venice was a virgin and a woman had implications for the way the city was imaged and thus how foreigners and Venetians alike related to it.3 Venetians wrapped their city in a luxuriant skin which proclaimed her beautiful, impregnable, wealthy
– – – – – – – FEMININE UNDERCROFT – – – – – – – The formal structural emphasis of the Stadium is offset by the relatively casual display, within its purlieu, of various elements that constitute the only specifically ‘feminist’ presence in the pavilion; a model of the Casa Zitelle, documentation from Britain’s first Women’s Liberation meeting (held at a college named after Ruskin), a recent documentary on Italian feminism, these traces of a gendered-agenda enlighten, lighten, the surrounding arena. – – – – – – SOTTERRANEO FEMMINILE – – – – – – L’accento sulla struttura formale dello Stadio per la visione ravvicinata è bilanciato dall’esposizione relativamente casuale, nei suoi dintorni, di vari elementi che costituiscono l’unica presenza specificamente ‘femminista’ nel padiglione. Che si tratti di un modello della Casa Zitelle, di testimonianze del primissimo incontro del Women’s Liberation Movement in Gran Bretagna (che si tenne significativamente in un college intitolato a John Ruskin) o di un recente documentario sul femminismo italiano, queste tracce di un’agenda di genere illuminano e rallegrano l’area circostante. ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
1 ‘In somma e tale, che non e cittade al mondo piu bella da vedere, ne piu meravigliosa da contemplare, ne piu secura da habitare, ne piu commoda da riposare, ne verso di se piu ricca, piu magnifica, piu diuina. O Vinetia ricetto di liberta, tempio di religione, vero albergo di pace, e di tranquillitade,’ in Francesco Sansovino, Delle orationi recitate a principii di Venezia (Venice, 1562), 62r, as quoted by Edward Muir, Civic Ritual in Renaissance Venice (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), p. 14–15 (n. 3). 2 Siena, for example, presented itself as a ‘special city of the Virgin,’ but likened itself to Christ as the recipient of the Virgin’s maternal care. See Judith Hook, ‘City of the Virgin,’ chapter VII in Siena: A City and its History (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1979), p. 125–47. 3 For an exploration of the imaging of Venice as the city of the Virgin, see David Rosand, Myths of Venice: The Figuration of a State (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2001).
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and unique. The city itself, its architecture and urban form, was thus a manifestation of mythic Venice, Virgin Queen of the Adriatic. Historians of art, literature and social culture have long since begun to assess the ways in which gender functioned in these fields of early modern experience.4 Historians of architecture, however, have only rarely considered gender as a useful category of exploration in this period.5 Architecture’s seemingly non-figurative nature, the masculine identity of its practitioners and patrons, and the patriarchal culture its buildings were designed to accommodate have contributed to this indifference. However, the human figure was a critical element in the revived aesthetics of classical architecture; the body generated the five orders, standards of symmetry and indeed geometry itself. Women were important patrons at convents, charitable centres, family funerary monuments and residences, and exerted a dominant role within the domestic sphere. Finally, in a city such as Venice, architectural space itself could resonate with gendered codes. Some of the ways in which gender could function in early modern architecture can be explored in one particular building built by and for women within the context of the gendersaturated culture of Renaissance Venice: a long-overlooked, but important late-16th century building on the Giudecca, The Casa delle Zitelle (The House of the Unmarried Girls).
The Casa delle Zitelle
In 1558 a Jesuit preacher, Benedetto Palmio, arrived in Venice. One aspect of his mission was the creation of an institution to save girls who were to be sold into prostitution by their families. Similar organisations had been started under Jesuit auspices in other cities. The Counter-Reformation impulse to control and discipline aberrant behavior in the name of salvation led to a flourishing of ‘hospitals’ for groups such as syphilitics, prostitutes, Jews and the indigent. Prostitution had long been a tolerated and even celebrated vice in Venice, where wealth depended on sea-faring trade and the transient merchants and sailors who made it possible.6 By the mid-16th century, however, attitudes were changing. Social and political stability, as well as ultimate salvation, required that the sinning be cured by private and public action. A group of patrician women of strikingly independent means responded to Palmio’s preaching immediately. Within months the women, led by Helena Priuli and Adriana Contarini, had rented a house in the parish of San Marcilian and collected 14 girls to save and educate. Working with Palmio, the women created a constitution for their new school that set out its goals, rules and, to some extent, spatial form, Le Constituzioni et Regole della Casa delle Cittelle di Venetia. From its earliest days, the school was to give the girls a religious education and prepare them for life as a wife and mother or, alternatively, a nun. Lessons in lace-making provided the girls a marketable skill, a means of supporting the school and the possibility of augmenting their own dowries.
4 This literature is far too extensive to cite in any meaningful way in a footnote. The essay collection Rewriting the Renaissance: Discourses of Sexual Difference in Early Modern Europe, ed. Margaret W. Ferguson, Maureen Quilligan and Nacy J. Vickers (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986) has an excellent bibliography of the state, already, of Renaissance gender studies some 15 years ago. Olwen Hufton, The Prospect Before Her: A History of Women in Western Europe, 1500–1800 (New York: Knopf, 1996) and Margaret King, Women of the Renaissance (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991) are both fine examinations of women’s experiences in the early modern period. See the bibliography for works which have directly influenced this dissertation. 5 A few architectural historians have considered early modern architecture in terms of gender. Alice T. Friedman’s House and Household in Elizabethan England: Wolloton Hall and the Willoughby Family (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989) was an early inspiration for this inquiry. Helen Hills, Mary-Ann Winkelmes and Gary Radke have looked at convent architecture in light of the gender of its patrons. See Hills, ‘Iconography and Ideology: Aristocracy, Immaculacy and Virginity in Seventeenth-Century Palermo,’ Oxford Art Journal XVII, 2 (1984), p. 16-21 and ‘Cities and Virgins: Female Aristocratic Convents in Early Modern Naples and Palermo,’ Oxford Art Journal XXII, 1 (1999), p. 29-54; Winkelmes, ‘Taking Part: Benedictine Nuns as Patrons of Art and Architecture,’ in Picturing Women in Renaissance and Baroque Italy, ed. Geraldine A. Johnson and Sara F. Matthews Grieco (Cambridge: Oxford University Press, 1997), 92-97; Radke, ‘Nuns and Their Art: The Case of San Zaccaria in Renaissance Venice,’ Renaissance Quarterly LIV, 2 (summer, 2001): p. 430-59. Catherine King and Carolyn Valone have both focused on the important role wealthy widows played as architectural patrons (or ‘matrons’) in funerary chapels. See King, ‘Medieval and Renaissance Matrons, Italian-style,’ Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte LV (1993): 372-93; Valone, ‘Architecture as a Public Voice for Women in Sixteenth-Century Rome,’ Renaissance Studies XV (2001): p. 300-26. Dennis Romano examined gender as a determinant for urban space in ‘Gender and the Urban Geography of Renaissance Venice,’ Journal of Social History XXIII (1989), p. 339-53.
Casa delle Zitelle
6 The first municipal brothel, the Castelletto, was founded in the fourteenth century near the Rialto and soon expanded to buildings nearby. Confining this publicly-sanctioned vice to an area frequented by merchants and sailors was thought to protect the honour of the rest of the population. By the 15th century, however, prostitutes were living in private quarters throughout the city; in 1500 there were some 12,000 prostitutes in a total population of 100,000. Prostitutes aided the state in a more tangible way as well; from 1514 onwards the government levied a special tax on prostitutes’ earnings which went towards the upkeep of the Arsenal. Furthermore, Venice’s prostitutes were one of its principal tourist attractions. The Catologo di tutte le principal e più honorate Cortigiane di Venezia (printed c.1574 but available earlier) listed over 200 such high-class prostitutes, their addresses, procurers and prices, putatively for the interested visitor.
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The girls were to be of all social classes: patrician, cittadini and popoli. To qualify for admission they had to be pretty, Venetian, the offspring of a legal marriage, and, most importantly, in danger of losing their virginity in exchange for money. The Constitution established a board of female governors, the governatrici, to oversee the school. These women were responsible for fundraising, as well as identifying and vetting candidates from the local community. There was also a board of male governors, the governatori, who conducted legal matters. No men, not even the governatori, were allowed to enter the Casa; the governatrici too had limited access. Daily administration was managed by the head of the school, the Madonna, and her assistant, the Coadjutrice. One woman, Marina Bernardo, an unmarried sister of Adriana Contarini, was the Madonna of the Zitelle from 1560 until her death in 1609. While male and female governing boards were common to Venetian charitable institutions, at no other opera pia were women patrons predominant. While similar institutions were set up on the mainland in the 16th century – Rome’s Vergini Miserabili di Santa Caterina della Rosa for instance – women played almost no part in their foundation or administration. The Casa delle Zitelle was essentially a charitable organisation founded, funded and run by women for the benefit of other women.7 The Constitution also set out spatial requirements for the Casa delle Zitelle. Men were not permitted to enter the building while the zitelle were not permitted to leave. The governatrici had moderate access and their own quarters. Points of interaction between interior and exterior worlds were tightly guarded. The Casa was to have different entrances to the church and street and these would have multiple keys and locks. The public, meanwhile, would visit the church through a doorway directly from the street. In the parlatorio, a grate was to separate a girl from her visitors and all the windows were to be locked. This and the performance room were to have easy access from the street entrance but not from the areas of the girls’ daily routine. Dormitories and workrooms, however, were to be closely
situated. These and other measures promoted the ideal of the Casa delle Zitelle as enclosed, female-dominated space. By 1560, the original house at San Marcilian was already overflowing with imperiled girls and the lady patrons began to search for new accommodations that might meet the requirements of the institution. They found a suitable property – a casa di statio and several warehouses on the island of the Giudecca – and provided 8,000 ducats for its purchase. The site is straight across the bacino from San Marco yet far removed from the fray of the city. The girls moved to this highly visible, yet difficult to reach location in 1561. According to building documents preserved at the Istituto per il Ricovero ed Educazione (IRE) in Venice, construction at the Casa delle Zitelle did not begin until at least 14 years later, when the patrons had a much greater knowledge of the needs and possibilities of housing and educating a group of young women. Construction of the Casa delle Zitelle proceeded in four campaigns, three of which are documented in the IRE archives.8 The first records of activity date to 1575, but building came to a halt in 1576 when plague hit the city. Although there are no building documents for the construction of the church, other sources prove that it was begun in 1581 and consecrated as Santa Maria della Presentazione in 1588. In 1585, a second, adjacent piece of land was purchased; the 2,500 ducats necessary for this property were provided by the governatrici. Building on this section began in 1589 and was funded in part by a grant from the state. It was completed in two stages, 1589–91 and 1596–97. The first campaign was essentially the conversion of the extant buildings into a traditional conventual structure. During the second campaign the church was built along side this convent, as was common. Santa Maria della Presentazione delle Zitelle has often been attributed to Andrea Palladio (1508–1580). The white, stone and pedimented façade clearly relates to the architect’s nearby churches of San Giorgio Maggiore (1565) and Il Redentore (1577). However there is no documentary evidence of his direct involvement. In keeping with its function as a church for young virgins, the articulation, using Corinthian pilasters, is far more modest than either of Palladio’s grand churches. Pure and virginal, visible and yet unreachable, the church announces the goals of the institution across the waters of the bacino.
7 For an extensive analysis of the administrative organisation of the Casa delle Zitelle, see Monica Chojnacka, ‘Women, Charity and Community in Early Modern Venice: The Casa delle Zitelle,’ Renaissance Quarterly LI (1998): 68–91. She concludes, ‘This description of the administration and staff shows the clear intent on the Casa’s founders to create a female community, a community in which individual women with distinct responsibilities were carefully inserted into an orderly hierarchy. For all practical purposes, these women controlled every aspect of the Casa, from guarding the front door to choosing their colleagues by election … At virtually every level of authority, women ran the show’ (p. 79). Chojnacka argues further that such female authority had direct consequences for the type of community developed at the Casa.
8 Libro della fabbrica per le spese fatte dal’anno 1575 sin all’anno 1600 (IRE, Zitelle, G1), p. 2
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VILLA FRANKENSTEIN #1
By the beginning of the third campaign, an innovative H-plan had been conceived for the school. The governatrici were certainly involved with the design; their names appear, responsible, throughout the account books. The arrangement placed the church at the centre programatically from the inside and visibly from the outside. The residential quarters flank the church on both sides, cradling it in two plain, vernacular façades; these announce the essentially humble, domestic purpose of the building. On each of three floors, the H-plan organises the daily life of its inhabitants. The ground floor was primarily used for public and communal spaces such as the parlatorio, kitchen and refectory. The middle level provided work and study space, an infirmary and the governatrici, Madonna and administrative quarters. Grated openings from the coro provided visual and aural access to the church for the girls: their religious activity was both part of the religious space and hidden from it; a central part of the school yet also a window out of it. The upper level was reserved for the girls’ dormitories. The building had a unique and symmetric arrangement that not only progressed from public to private areas upwards, but also provided a spatial framework that complemented the educational tenets of the school. This organisation has no direct precedent in the architecture of charitable institutions in Venice or on the mainland. The Casa delle Zitelle was unlike any other institution of its day. Building upon a type of institution already established in Rome and supported by the Jesuits, the women integrated their knowledge to provide a solution befitting its Venetian setting. They would strive to raise their charges as ‘the very image’ of Christian virtue, but at the same time endow the girls with personal autonomy. The zitelle would control their own property and decide their future, be it as wife, nun, or single woman. The female founders had discovered their own ability to influence their world through control of wealth and desired to impart this power to still others. Inspired by the teachings of religious reformers, both male and female, Venetian and not, they remade the idea of a centre for troubled girls into an institution benefiting women of all kinds. Moreover, they used architecture itself to achieve this goal. The plan of the building reinforced the social tenets of the institution to its denizens, while its façade proclaimed them to the city at large. This centre for saving the virginity of Venetian girls remains an important part of the urban iconography of the City of Venice even today.
Casa delle Zitelle
SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY ON HISTORIC VENICE & GENDER There is a surprisingly large bibliography specifically dealing with issues of gender and femininity within the context of Venice. It was two 16th-century Venetians who provided the first female-authored treatises on women. Moderata Fonte’s Il merito delle donne (1600) and Lucrezia Marinella’s La nobilità e l’eccellenza delle donne co’ difetti, e mancamenti de gli huomeni (1600). And in the 17th century, a book appeared that attested to a Venetian woman’s view of the life of a nun. Arcangela Tarabotti’s La Semplicità Ingannata o Tirannia Paterna (Venice, 1654) accused fathers of being monstrous tyrants for selling their daughters into a life of imprisonment to preserve their own wealth and luxurious lifestyle. Chojnacka, Monica, ‘City of Women: Gender, Family and Community in Venice, 1540-1630,’ Ph.D. diss., Stanford University, 1994. ____, ‘Women, Charity and Community in Early Modern Venice: The Casa delle Zitelle,’ Renaissance Quarterly LI (1998). p. 68-91. Chojnacki, Stanley ‘Patrician Women in Early Renaissance Venice,’ Studies in the Renaissance XXI (1974). p. 176–203. ____, ‘The Most Serious Duty’: Motherhood, Gender and Patrician Culture in Renaissance Venice,’ in Refiguring Woman: Perspectives on Gender and the Italian Renaissance, ed. Marilyn Migiel and Juliana Schiesari. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991. p. 133-54. ____, ‘Daughters and Oligarchs: Gender and the Early Renaissance State,’ in Gender and Society in Renaissance Italy, ed. Judith Brown and Robert C. Davis. London: Longman, 1998. p. 63-86. Cohen, Sherill, The Evolution of Women’s Asylums Since 1500, From Refuges for Ex-Prostitutes to Shelters for Battered Women. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. Cohn, Samuel K. Jr., Women in the Streets: Essays on Sex and Power in Renaissance Italy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. Cox, Virginia, ‘The Single Self: Feminist Thought and the Marriage Market in Early Modern Venice,’ Renaissance Quarterly XLVIII, 3 (autumn, 1995). p. 513-581. Davis, Robert C., ‘The Geography of Gender in the Renaissance,’ in Gender and Society in Renaissance Italy, ed. Judith Brown and Robert C. Davis. London: Longman, 1998. p. 19-38. Ferraro, Joan, ‘The Power to Decide: Battered Wives in Early Modern Venice,’ Renaissance Quarterly XLVIII, 3 (autumn, 1995). p. 492-512. Labalme, Patricia, ‘Women’s Roles in Early Modern Venice: An Exceptional Case,’ in Beyond Their Sex: Learned Women of the European Past, ed. Patricia Labalme. New York: New York University Press, 1980. p. 129-52. ____, ‘Venetian Women on Women: Three Early Modern Feminists,’ Archivio veneto Ser. V, 117 (1981). p. 81-109. Martin, Ruth, Witchcraft and the Inquisition in Venice: 1550–1650. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989. Queller, Donald E. and Thomas E. Madden, ‘Father of the Bride: Fathers, Daughters, and Dowries in Late Medieval and Early Renaissance Venice,’ Renaissance Quarterly XLVI, 4 (winter, 1993). p. 685-711. Radke, Gary M., ‘Nuns and Their Art: The Case of San Zaccaria in Renaissance Venice, ‘Renaissance Quarterly LIV, 2 (summer, 2001): p.430-59. Romano, Dennis., ‘Gender and the Urban Geography of Renaissance Venice,’ Journal of Social History XXIII (1989). p. 339-53. ____, Housecraft and Statecraft: Domestic Service in Renaissance Venice, 1400–1600. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996 Rosand, David, Myths of Venice: The Figuration of a State. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001. Rosenthal, Margaret, The Honest Courtesan: Veronica Franco, Citizen and Writer in Sixteenth Century Venice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. ____, ‘Venetian Women Writers and Their Discontents,’ in Sexuality and Gender in Early Modern Europe: Institutions, Texts, Images, ed. James Grantham Turner. Cambridge, 1993. p. 107-132. Ruggiero, Guido, The Boundaries of Eros: Sex Crime and Sexuality in Renaissance Venice. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. Sperling, Jutta Gisela, Convents and the Body Politic in Late Renaissance Venice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.
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On being Common Rebiennale and ‘Commoning’ in the Urban Space
– – – – – – – – – – – REBIENNALE – – – – – – – – – – – –
The Stadium is designed using simple repetitive timber elements and steel-connection details. This structure was designed in order to be dismantled and reassembled in another location – the process of finding a second home will be undertaken in collaboration with Rebiennale. Thus the Stadium components allow for a full flexibility in its afterlife, whether as interior theatre or to furnish a playground for an already collaborating local school. Providing an opportunity for Rebiennale to further extend their political territory, merging different agendas of social activism, muf’s Stadium may prove more important in its constituent elements, phantom echo through the city, than its initial formal presence. The following text focuses on isolating the features of Rebiennale’s project in its relationship both with the city and the Biennale itself. The signature is a multiple one. Both Rebiennale and S.a.L.E.-Docks. These two projects are ‘different sides of the same coin’ and thus impossible to understand on their own.
Marco Baravalle with S.a.L.E.-Docks and Rebiennale
‘Commons Beyond Building’ is a slogan that describes perfectly the essence of what the Rebiennale is all about, but it is, all told, just that – a slogan – and as such an explanation of all its individual aspects is called for. This can perhaps be done by using an empirical approach, freeing up Rebiennale from all that it was intended to be and examining what it actually means in a practical sense. Its name alone is evidence of its origins in the Biennale and thus its relationship with the city of Venice. The idea was conceived about two years ago by a group of activists; we won’t describe them as being ‘local’ activists, given that, within the institutional framework of the art and architecture debate, such a term immediately paints a picture of an indigenous and primitive body, a defenceless host that is easy prey for that global parasite that communitybased projects have become. The group quickly developed an international profile, with collectives of architects and designers from all over the globe becoming involved. Rebiennale is aware of the environmentally unsustainable nature of the Biennale, and is sensitive to the fact that dismantling the installations means substantial costs being incurred and materials that are in perfectly good condition going to waste. With this in mind, and in its work of recovering and stockpiling the materials discarded by the Bienniale, Rebiennale set itself up as a network of activists, university students, squatters and international collectives of architects (including, first and foremost, Exyzt, the French architects). The stockpiled materials are recycled by being put to use when setting up exhibitions in the S.a.L.E – an exhibition space used for alternative art projects, in which context the Rebiennale was first conceived – in the reopening and restoration of public gardens in the St Marta area of the city, in the rebuilding and renovation by the occupants themselves of a number of squats and in breathing new life into another location that could be said to have a place in
––––– Il progetto dello Stadio si basa sull’utilizzo di semplici e ripetitivi elementi di legno e dettagli di collegamento in acciaio. La struttura è stata pensata per essere smantellata e rimontata in un altro luogo, e la ricerca di una seconda casa sarà intrapresa in collaborazione con Rebiennale. Le componenti dello Stadio consentono quindi la massima flessibilità a quella che sarà la sua prossima incarnazione: forse un teatro per interni o un parco giochi per una scuola locale già coinvolta nella collaborazione – senz’altro uno dei sorprendenti spazi vuoti che ancora esistono nella città. Dando un’opportunità a Rebiennale di estendere ulteriormente il suo territorio politico e coniugando diversi programmi di attivismo sociale, lo Stadio di muf potrebbe rivelarsi più importante nei suoi elementi costitutivi, echi spettrali attraverso la città, che nella sua presenza formale originaria. Il testo successivo si concentra sulle caratteristiche dell’iniziativa di Rebiennale nel suo rapporto con la città e la Biennale stessa. La firma è multipla. Rebiennale e S.a.L.E.-Docks. Questi due progetti sono ‘diversi lati della stessa medaglia’ ed è quindi impossibile comprenderli separatamente. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
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history as far as action groups in Venice are concerned: the ‘laboratorio Morion’. Rebiennale was involved in the fitting out of Planet K, the Kurdish Pavilion at the 2009 Visual Arts Biennale, and had a hand in the 2009 Global Beach project – a stretch of beach at the Venice Lido taken over for a period in the summer, with its occupiers wanting to draw attention to issues concerning the lack of job security in the country. Rebiennale has also run workshops in partnership with the IUAV – the Venice University Institute of Architecture.
crisis. Rebiennale has the potential to develop as an online network and discussion platform, but without doubt it still has a certain ‘substance’ off-line. Its weakness lies in the problem of working as a ‘commoning’ agency in the city, in making these complexities understood from within. Rebiennale is one of Venice’s contradictions: it does not simply map them, nor does it operate on the lines of an NGO with a brief in design and sustainable thinking. Rebiennale is therefore a ‘one-sided’ affair, but it would be wrong to think that simply choosing which side to support means everything will necessarily come into focus. In fact, ongoing probing and investigations are called for, as well as a considerable amount of effort being channelled into systems management. What is beyond doubt is that being part of the contradictions of a city, being part of the current maze made up of the economy, politics, culture, society and the tangible and the intangible, means that operating ‘merely’ as a collective of designers, artists, city planners or architects is a luxury beyond reach. Commoning as a concept is not a mere interdisciplinary exercise – it is machinic in itself. To use a quasi-quotation, it can be said that commoning should be designed on as many levels as capitalism has infiltrated, while learning how to transform itself into the machine it is today. The challenge for ‘commoning’ is how to become a workshop for new forms of knowledge, jobs and economics. This brings us to another on the list of ‘should be’ for Rebiennale. Perhaps Rebiennale should be an experiment in economic sustainability, a joint venture, working within and against the current cultural or creative economy. Critics of this economy have already turned the spotlight on its limitations and its ambivalence. There is certainly a positive side; a joke about matters on a local level goes thus: ‘better a creative Venice than a Venice that is simply a museum’. But it is just as clear that eulogies to creativity as an attribute of the urban economy are a fiction of laissez-faire policy, which, in reality, simply fuel the fire of ever-rising income from property and exploitation of the cultural heritage, as well paving the way for jobs within that heritage to become progressively less and less secure, affecting both those requiring specialist knowledge and those in the service sector in general. And on this bleak side of the creative economy falls the shadow of the recession, which, at least in Italy, is providing justification for a policy of
Salvaged Biennale materials at Morion Photo: Cristiano Corte
But Rebiennale is not a free service provided to the Biennale. Nor does it have designs on hiring itself out to the Biennale as a greenwashing consultancy. And while it has on occasion been invited to feature in big-name events on the themes of design, sustainability and the third sector, Rebiennale does not operate as a collective or as a design business. Rebiennale aims at establishing a viewpoint and modus operandi that will flag ways in which one particular urban space can be made common to those in the city as a whole; in doing so, what Rebiennale actually is becomes intertwined with what it is trying to be: an agency through which the ‘commoning’ of the city can be realised. It is, of course, true to say that the concept of a city as being something that is ‘common to all’ is one that is full of complexities which may never be fully unravelled in practice, and these complexities translate into what is in fact the strength of the Rebiennale project, as well as its weakness. The strength derives from the fact that Rebiennale operates on a vast number of different levels, not concerned only with environmental unsustainability, where the dismantling of the Biennale exhibits comes in, but also with the social unsustainability of an institution that offers ever decreasing levels of job security to the humans it employs. Rebiennale both fits out alternative exhibition spaces and, at the same time, is a useful tool for tackling the housing
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Rebiennale e la pratica del comune nello spazio urbano
savage cuts right across the cultural sector. And so the question is: how can we survive and how can we bring about changes with the recession upon us? We need to remember that here too we are dealing with hypotheses, but what seems clear is that the battle for job security is one that is destined to be lost, as a result of a productivity model structurally designed to do away with job security and to reduce permanent positions, both as a result of the recession and the inadequacy of the entrenched unions. Therefore new experiments in economic sustainability could pave the way for important inroads into the city becoming ‘common’. Such an evolution depends, among other things, on the ability to harness the ‘militant experience’, transforming it into something that can withstand the shock of all that is individual about the city and to meet diversity head on, drawing power from it, treating it as building block, while avoiding, obviously, the politically correct. In this sense, the very diversity of those involved in the Rebiennale network, something that has, at all times, been its distinguishing feature, is an extremely encouraging sign, but one that is not enough if seen as the ultimate aim of ‘commoning’. Plurality, ideas for meetings and networking, all that is already in place, must rather function as the means for bringing about a transformation of the status quo.
Marco Baravalle S.a.L.E.-Docks Rebiennale
“Commons beyond Building” è una formula efficace per esemplificare ciò che sta al cuore dell’esperienza di Rebiennale, ma rimane pur sempre una formula e in quanto tale, necessita di essere esplicitata nei suoi diversi aspetti. Proviamo a dare vita a questo tipo di operazione partendo da un punto di vista empirico, cioè, liberando Rebiennale da ciò che avrebbe dovuto essere e prendendo materialisticamente in considerazione ciò che è. Nel nome è evidente un rapporto fondativo con l’istituzione della Biennale e, dunque, con la città di Venezia. L’idea nasce circa due anni fa da un gruppo di attivisti, non usiamo l’attributo locale perché, nella cornice istituzionale del discorso artistico-architettonico, esso designa immediatamente un’entità indigena e primitiva, un organismo indifeso, pronto a nutrire il parassita internazionale delle pratiche community based. Questo gruppo presto evolve in direzione internazionale, coinvolgendo collettivi di architetti e designers provenienti da tutto il mondo. Dunque, Rebiennale conosce il carattere di insostenibilità (ambientale) dell’evento Biennale, sa che lo smaltimento degli allestimenti implica costi notevoli e spreco di materiali ancora in ottimo stato. Attorno a questa constatazione e alla pratica di recuperare e stoccare i materiali dismessi dalla Biennale, Rebiennale si costituisce come una rete che coinvolge attivisti, studenti universitari, occupanti di case e collettivi internazionali di architetti (tra loro, in primis, i francesi Exyzt). I materiali stoccati vengono riciclati nell’allestimento di mostre del S.a.L.E. (uno spazio per la produzione culturale indipendente nel cui contesto è nata l’esperienza di Rebiennale), nell’apertura e nel recupero di un giardino pubblico nel quartiere di S. Marta, nei processi di autorecupero di una serie di case occupate e nella rivitalizzazione (tuttora in corso) di un altro luogo “storico” per i movimenti veneziani: il laboratorio Morion. Inoltre, Rebiennale segue l’allestimento di Planet K, il padiglione curdo alla Biennale
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VILLA FRANKENSTEIN #1
di Arti Visive del 2009, contribuisce al progetto di Global Beach 2009 (una spiaggia occupata, dedicata al tema della precarietà, al Lido di Venezia) e realizza alcuni workshop in partenariato con l’università IUAV di Venezia. Ma Rebiennale non è un servizio gratuito alla Biennale, tantomeno le interessa proporsi quale agenzia di greenwashing e sebbene sia stata invitata a presentasi all’interno di importanti eventi legati al design, alla sostenibilità e al terzo settore, Rebiennale non funziona come un collettivo o un’impresa di designers. Rebiennale sta tentando di costruire un discorso e una pratica che indichino tattiche per il divenire comune di uno specifico spazio urbano. In questo caso dunque, ciò che Rebiennale è, si intreccia nuovamente con quello che sta provando ad essere: un’agenzia per il commoning della città. Certo, il tema della città quale common è di una complessità sostanzialmente inesauribile, ed è questa trasversalità a porsi contemporaneamente quale potenza e difficoltà del progetto Rebiennale. Potenza perché Rebiennale opera su una molteplicità di piani: quello della non sostenibilità ambientale dello smaltimento dei padiglioni della mostra, ma anche quello della insostenibilità sociale di un’istituzione sempre più precarizzante verso il lavoro vivo in essa impiegato. Rebiennale è la mente dietro gli allestimenti degli spazi indipendenti e, allo stesso tempo, uno strumento spendibile sul piano dell’emergenza casa. Rebiennale ha la potenzialità di svilupparsi quale rete e quale piattaforma di discorso on line, ma possiede pure una sua indubbia “consistenza” off-line. D’altro canto, la maggiore difficoltà di lavorare come agenzia di commoning della città è quella di comunicare questa complessità essendone un agente interno, Rebiennale sta dentro le contraddizioni di Venezia, non le mappa solamente, né agisce come una sorta di ONG del design e del pensiero sostenibili. Rebiennale è dunque un’esperienza “di parte”, ma la convinzione che solo a partire dalla scelta della propria parte si riesca a mettere correttamente a fuoco il tutto non si realizza automaticamente, anzi, richiede un lavoro permanente di inchiesta e uno sforzo notevole di sistematizzazione. Ciò che è certo è che abitare le contraddizioni dello spazio metropolitano, in quell’intreccio attuale tra economia, politica, cultura, società, materiale e immateriale, significa non potersi concedere il lusso di operare “semplicemente” come un collettivo di designers, di artisti, di urbanisti o di architetti.
Il comune è più che transdisciplinare, è macchinico. Con una quasi-citazione potremmo affermare che il comune va costruito su quei mille piani all’interno dei quali anche la cattura capitalistica ha imparato a farsi macchina. La sfida del commoning è quella di divenire laboratorio di nuove forme di conoscenza, di lavoro e di economia. Ecco, allora, un altro dovrebbe essere di Rebiennale. Forse Rebiennale dovrebbe essere un esperimento di sostenibilità economica, un’impresa del comune dentro e contro l’attuale economia culturale o creativa. La critica di questa economia ne ha già ampiamente messo in mostra i limiti e l’ambivalenza. Esiste certamente un aspetto positivo, con una battuta riferita alla dimensione locale potremmo dire: “Meglio una Venezia città creativa, piuttosto che una Venezia città museo”. Eppure è altrettanto chiaro che la magnificazione della creatività come attributo economico della dimensione urbana, è una bugia liberista che, in realtà, produce il rinforzamento di rendite immobiliari e accademiche, oltre alla progressiva precarizzazione del lavoro legato alla cultura, sia quello delle mansioni ad alto contenuto cognitivo, sia quello dei servizi materiali. A questo lato oscuro dell’economia creativa viene sovrapponendosi la crisi che, almeno in Italia, sta sancendo una brutale politica dei tagli a tutto il settore culturale. Come resistere o come innovare nella crisi? Anche qui, è giusto ricordarlo, siamo nel campo delle ipotesi, ma appare chiaro che le lotte per la continuità di impiego siano destinate ad una sconfitta certa, sia a causa di un modello produttivo strutturalmente costruito sulla precarizzazione e sulla riduzione del lavoro salariato, sia a causa della crisi e dell’inadeguatezza dei sindacati istituzionali. Dunque nuovi esperimenti di sostenibilità economica potrebbero indicare percorsi importanti nel divenire comune della metropoli. Un divenire che dipende, tra l’altro, dalla capacità delle cosiddette “esperienze militanti” di trasformarsi, di reggere all’urto della singolarità nella metropoli, anzi, di utilizzare l’incontro con l’altro come potenza costituente (ovviamente evitando il politically correct). In questo senso, l’eterogeneità dei soggetti che, in taluni momenti, ha caratterizzato la rete di Rebiennale è un segnale molto incoraggiante, ma insufficiente se praticato come fine ultimo della pratica del comune. La molteplicità, le idee di incontro e di rete devono, invece, rappresentare il mezzo che orienta l’esistente verso una trasformazione dello status-quo.
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– – – – – – – – – – RALPH RUMNEY – – – – – – – – – – The adventures of the English Situationist Ralph Rumney within Venice were both frustrating and invigorating. Having been commissioned by Guy Debord to contribute a ‘psychogeographical’ study of the city for the first issue of the Internationale Situationniste revue, Rumney consistently failed to produce his project in time and as a result was thrown out of the organisation, Debord announcing that Venice had ‘vanquished’ him. His work on Venice was eventually published, in London, but the damage was already done. As the husband of Pegeen Guggenheim, daughter of the fabled Venetian collector and patron Peggy, Rumney eventually found himself chased from the city by his all-powerful mother-inlaw, indeed ‘banished’ akin to a Renaissance ex-communication. Rumney’s continual ‘defeat’ by Venice can be posited as a reverse parallel to the ‘victory’ of his fellow Englishman Ruskin over the same city.
Spreads from The Leaning Tower of Venice by Ralph Rumney. Courtesy Jane England
––––– Le avventure del situazionista inglese Ralph Rumney a Venezia furono frustranti e al tempo stesso fortificanti. Incaricato da Guy Debord di fornire uno studio ‘psicogeografico’ della città per il primo numero della rivista Internationale Situationniste, Rumney non riuscì a presentare in tempo il progetto e fu espulso dall’organizzazione dell’IS, con l’annuncio di Debord che Venezia l’aveva ‘vinto’. Il suo lavoro sulla città lagunare venne infine pubblicato a Londra, ma il danno era stato fatto. In qualità di marito di Pegeen Guggenheim, figlia della leggendaria collezionista e mecenate veneziana Peggy, Rumney finì per essere cacciato dalla città – o per meglio dire ‘bandito’ come uno scomunicato nel Rinascimento – per volontà della potentissima suocera. La continua ‘sconfitta’ che Venezia inflisse a Rumney può essere considerata il rovescio della ‘vittoria’ ottenuta dal compatriota Ruskin sulla stessa città. ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
A Rumney Wrap will soon accompany Volume #2 of this journal
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VILLA FRANKENSTEIN #1
–––– We ride on each other, me and my friends, dogs dominate each other by laying their weight on the antagonist. In the middle-aged art world you find the same motifs, but with humans riding humans. These images are found connected to texts of law, where the riding presents power control and domination. Me, my sister and my friends build our relationships on a ongoing moving balance. One slip and you become ridden. It’s an exchange with shifting results.
Adrian Dannatt Editor-at-Large
–––– Develop action, thought, and desires by proliferation, juxtaposition and disjunction, and not by subdivision and pyramidical hierarchization. Prefer what is positive and multiple, difference over uniformity, flows over unities, mobile arrangements over systems.
Sara-Vide Ericson (2010)
–––– Consider the ‘afterlives’ of monuments, variously addressing three key questions relevant globally as well as locally: what makes a monument, under what conditions does it endure and for whom? These address how monuments have been reinvented and transformed for a succession of presents, for changing audiences and diverse communities. As one identifies, ‘the memorial can only survive through reinvention’. Architecture, sculpture, popular culture – monuments are multi-dimensional and multimedia, linking the afterlives of monuments and the aftermaths of empires.
Michel Foucault Preface to Anti-Oedipus (1972)
–––– For Tate to have a sustainable future we will need to stretch the principles of collaboration and exchange. Collaborations will require that we abandon some notions of institutional demarcation or sole authorship, and replace them with public access, integration, and the widest possible engagement with academics, artists and specialists elsewhere. Tate will become as much a publisher as an author of ideas.
Underwater New York (2010)
Nicholas Serota (2010)
–––– In 1500 in Venice there were some 12,000 prostitutes in a total population of 100,000. Prostitutes aided the state in a more tangible way as well; from 1514 onwards the government levied a special tax on prostitutes’ earnings which went towards the upkeep of the Arsenal. Furthermore, Venice’s prostitutes were one of its principal tourist attractions.
–––– To make matters more challenging for any cultural bureaucracy … the criteria that loom largest and that relentlessly define and fill daily life – especially where public funding is involved – are those that history treats most dismissively; the project managers’ holy trinity of conformity to the budget, the timetable and the original brief. If you ignore these you are in trouble today; but if you are bound by them you are in trouble tomorrow. We live increasingly in an age where the weightless, the mobile, the contingent, the adaptive, the provisional and the collaborative are more complelling than their antonyms.
Vanessa Chase Lilly Case delle Zitelle (2002)
Adrian Ellis The Art Newspaper (2010)
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Adrian Dannatt is a writer, curator and artist currently based in Paris. His books include the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (Phaidon), Anthony Palliser (Editions du Regard) and Jan Worst (Sperone) and he contributed to This is What We Do: A muf Manual. He is Contributing Editor of Lacanian Ink and Editor-at-Large of Open City, the journal of art and literature. He has curated exhibitions at venues ranging from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower Arts Center in Oklahoma to Storefront for Art & Architecture (NY) and London’s Riflemaker Gallery. His own work has been exhibited at institutions varied as the Whitworth Art Gallery and Deitch Projects in SoHo.
Born in Venice, Lorenzo Bonometto is an expert in the life sciences with special emphasis on coastal and lagoon environments. President of the Società Veneziana di Scienze Naturali, he was founder and director of the Centro di Educazione Naturalistica Ambientale at the Museo di Storia Naturale di Venezia. He also works as a consultant for the Ministry of the Environment and Venice Town Council and a lecturer in Applied Ecology at IUAV. Author of numerous technical reports, scientific and educational publications, he is a consultant on environmental restoration projects in lagoon and coastal areas.
Robert Hewison is recognised as an authority on the work of John Ruskin. He published his first book on Ruskin in 1976, and in 1978 curated the exhibition Ruskin and Venice for the J.B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky. This exhibition was the beginning of a lifelong study of Ruskin’s relationship with Venice, which culminated in January 2010 with the publication of Ruskin on Venice: The Paradise of Cities (Yale University Press). Robert is a former Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford University, and is currently Professor of Cultural Policy and Leadership Studies, City University London. He has published widely on 20th century British cultural history, and has written on the Arts for the London Sunday Times since 1981. He is an Associate of the think tank Demos.
Vanessa Chase Lilly Vanessa Chase Lilly holds a doctorate in art history from Columbia University. The essay published here is based on her dissertation, The Casa delle Zitelle: Gender & Architecture in Renaissance Venice (2002).
Lottie Child is an artist based in London. She constructs situations that defy the traditional context of museum and gallery environments, focusing on behaviour in urban places. For the last ten years she has been developing her practise of ‘Street Training’ a form of extended research and performative intervention. Through Street Training, she explores how we use public space in creative, playful and sometimes subversive ways. She trains performers, police, planners and architects in the playful shaping of the streets at the social level. She often apprentices herself to young people because of their heightened skills in seeing opportunities for creativity and boundary pushing. She is a lecturer at the University of the Arts, exhibits internationally and has shown at Tate Britain, the ICA, Pinakothek der Moderne Munich, Kiasma Helsinki, was a recipient of a Brazil Links British Council research award. She has established Street Training teams at the Centre for the Urban Built Environment Manchester; Camberwell, with the South London Gallery and at the UNICENTRO University Guarapuava in Brazil.
Jane da Mosto
Jane da Mosto is an environmental scientist and international consultant on sustainable development. She has been working with Venice in Peril and Cambridge University to develop an independent platform for examining scientific information concerning the current state and future of Venice in a clear, interdisciplinary and comprehensive framework. Research, beyond Venice, has covered alternative economic valuation approaches, indicators for sustainable development and, broadly, the integration of different branches of knowledge with different degrees of uncertainty to overcome complexity and characterise urgent issues, especially climate change.
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VILLA FRANKENSTEIN #1
The Ruskin Library, Lancaster University
a working class area of the city adjacent to the Biennale’s Giardini. Both bear testimony of confidence towards the cognitive means of the image and a moral commitment towards representing the urban built environment in its minutiae. Among Wolfgang’s most widely acclaimed projects is his co-founded and co-authored opus on urbanism, named ENDCOMMERCIAL, and his comprehensive study on globalisation and the city named MIGROPOLIS. Both have been published as books and were shown to international acclaim at leading art institutions in the US and Europe. He teaches Politics of Representation in Switzerland and at the Faculty of Arts and Design of the IUAV University in Venice.
Opened in 1998 with Heritage Lottery Fund support, the Library houses the largest collection of archive material relating to John Ruskin (1819–1900), the leading cultural figure of the Victorian era, now in the care of the Ruskin Foundation. Ruskin’s significance as a pioneer of conservation and ecological issues continues to be appreciated over a century after his death, as are his perceptive commentaries on social and economic issues, through seminal writings such as Unto This Last (1862), an influential critique of self-centred capitalism. Also in the Library are most of the thousands of drawings and watercolours made in preparation for The Stones of Venice (1851–53), a three-volume study of the city’s Gothic architecture and early Renaissance painting. The notebooks, detailed studies and preparatory drawings for the book (available in digital form on the Library’s website) were an important inspiration for Liza Fior and Wolfgang Scheppe in framing the theme and content of the British Pavilion.
Spazio Legno was founded in 1980 to continue the tradition and craft of the marangòni (the carpenters of the Serenissima Republic) and the remèri (specialists in gondolas and oars). They are suppliers to the Comune di Venezia, and are building the Stadium of Close Looking for the British Pavilion.
Rebiennale is an international network based in Venice of activists, collectives, architects, students, artists, writers, and technicians who share knowledge, methods and expertise in the process of recycling, self-build and their understanding of regeneration and the productive reclaiming of communal spaces. The project was started in 2008 from the experimentation by a group of Venetian activists who began to recover the discarded materials from the Art and Architecture Biennales, with the aim of giving them a new life and to promote the processes of environmental, economical and social sustainability as well as the re-possession of the city, its resources and its territory.
Tom Spencer is Director of the Cambridge Coastal Research Unit and Senior Lecturer in Geography, University of Cambridge. He is interested in hydrodynamics, sedimentation and ecological processes in natural and recreated tidal wetlands. He is co-author of Coastal Problems: Geomorphology, Ecology and Society at the Coast, co-editor of Big Flood, a research collection commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1953 North Sea storm surge and, in 2005, co-edited Flooding and Environmental Challenges for Venice and its Lagoon: State of Knowledge. In 2004 he received the Royal Geographical Society’s Murchison Award for contributions to coastal geomorphology.
Wolfgang Scheppe is a German artist-philosopher who lives and works in Venice. He holds a Ph.D in Philosophy from LMU University in Munich, where he wrote his thesis on Hegel. He is currently working on an investigation into the means and measures of representation to find out how visual archives on the city allow an understanding of society. In a conceptual work entitled Done.Book he relates two obsessive endeavours of archiving Venice: the Venetian notebooks of Ruskin and the previously unseen private picture library of a local resident from
Venice in Peril
For over 40 years, the Venice in Peril Fund has disbursed millions of pounds for the restoration of Venetian monuments, buildings and works of art. Venice is a city facing a range of threats so Venice in Peril also finances essential work to improve the understanding and communication of issues vital to the survival of the city and the Lagoon.
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Commissioner of the British Pavilion: Vicky Richardson Artistic Director: muf architecture/art Llp Project Manager: Ellie Smith, British Council Project Assistants: Amy Pettifer and Sophie Parry, British Council Technical Manager: Marcus Alexander Technical Team: Julian Hodges, Tony Connor, Daniel Reeves and Richard Schofield British Council Registrar: Silvia Bordin Events Manager: Nansi O’Connor British Pavilion Manager: Caterina de Rienzo Director British Council Italy: Christine Melia Director Programmes British Council Italy: Michael Taylor Relationships and Projects Manager British Council Italy: Alison Driver Arts Assistant British Council Italy: Marina Machelli PR Consultant: Bolton and Quinn
The British Council would like to thank the following companies for their generous support of the British Pavilion project at the 12th International Architecture Exhibition.
Arper has generously supported Villa Frankenstein and provided Palm Chairs for the events being held in the British Pavilion. These award-winning designs were produced in collaboration with Studio Lievore Altherr Molina. The collection also includes designs by Simon Penguelly, Jean-Marie Massaud, Rodolfo Dordoni and Ichiro Iwasaki. Arper is committed to outstanding craftsmanship, innovation and international design and was founded in 1989, evolving from the artisan tradition of leatherworking into a furniture company for the 21st century. Investing in new technologies and researching new materials, Arper’s vision reflects the Veneto region where it is based – an area renowned for its artistic and manufacturing prowess.
Installation and Graphic Design: Axel Feldmann, objectif Structural Engineer: Aran Chadwick, Tania Scotney and Dave Miller at Atelier One; Ignazio Pavanini and Aldo Giuponi at Spazio Legno Website Design: Wolfram Wiedner
The British Council would like to thank Liza Fior, Katherine Clarke, Viola Carnelutti and all the team at muf architecture/art Llp who have kept the practice in practise since the commission.
Contributors / Collaborators Lorenzo Bonometto, Andrea Bonometto, Lottie Child, Jane da Mosto, Adrian Dannatt, Robert Hewison, Alina Marazzi, Rebiennale, Wolfgang Scheppe, Tom Spencer, Stephen Wildman, The Women’s Library, The Schools of Venice and Venice in Peril.
With support from:
The British Pavilion’s three-volume catalogue is printed on Favini Shiro Alga Carta and Burano Cyclamen paper. Alga Carta is a specialist paper made from algae which would otherwise clog up the Venice Lagoon. The algae are harvested annually and combined with FSC fibres. These special products are produced and kindly supplied by Favini.
With special thanks to The Ruskin Library and Research Centre, Lancaster University Stephen Wildman – Director, Jen Shepherd, Linda Moorhouse
‘Ruskin’s Venetian Notebooks 1849–50’ Ian Bliss, Roger Garside, Ray Haslam, Sarah Quill
Bauer Palladio & Spa (Casa delle Zitelle) Alvio and Gabriella Gavagnin
Computers generously supplied by Lomas Davies.
Acknowledgements & Thanks Noemi Blager, Nicky Baly, Andrea Bertoldini, Mauro Bon, Andrea Buran, Gail Cameron, Stefania Cappellari, Luigi D’Alpaos, Delia da Mosto, Filippo De Sero, Bee Emmott, Sarah Gillett, Nicolas Henninger, Eleanor Hutchins, Teddy Jefferson, David Landau, Gemma Latty, Sandra Lawson, Nemo Monti, Piero Morello, Barbara Pastor, Gianfilippo Pedote, Giuliana Racco, Richard Riley, Roberto Rosolen, Cristiano Battisti, Hannah Schlotter, Phil Sharp, Eleonora Sofrani, Anna Somers Cocks, Nadia Spirito, Julia Taylor-Thorson, Rafaella Trabucco, Valerio Volpe and Chris Aldgate, Emily Butler and Patrick Lears at the Whitechapel Gallery.
Kindly supported by Hotel Danieli. www.luxurycollection.com/danieli
Advisory Panel Christopher Egret, Director, Studio Egret West Kathryn Findlay, Director, Ushida Findlay Architects Pedro Gadanho, Professor at Faculty of Architecture, University of Porto Michael Hegarty, Director, PLACE Kieran Long, Architecture critic, Evening Standard Andrea Rose, Director of Visual Arts, British Council Chair: Sarah Ichioka, Director, The Architecture Foundation Catalogue Published by the British Council 10 Spring Gardens, London SW1A 2BN on the occasion of the exhibition VILLA FRANKENSTEIN, muf architecture/art Llp British Pavilion, 12th International Architecture Exhibition 29 August–21 November 2010 Text © The Author, unless otherwise stated Edited by: Adrian Dannatt & Vicky Richardson Sub-edited by: Gwen Webber Translations: Joanna M Case, Manuela Rizzo and Edward Harcourt Photography: Cristiano Corte, Lottie Child, Liza Fior Design: Axel Feldmann, objectif Printed by: Papergraf S.p.A., Padova, Italy All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior consent of the publisher. © British Council 2010 ISBN 978-086355-646-3 www.villafrankenstein.com
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VILLA FRANKENSTEIN #1
DĂŠtournement by Wolfgang Scheppe for the invitation of this exhibition
In Partes Tres
of public space and includes a Street Training Manual for Venice and Whitechapel.
The Journal of the British Pavilion, 12th International Architecture Exhibition is, like all Gaul, divided into three parts. The two subsequent forthcoming publications are provisionally entitled: The Child in the City, and The Venice Lagoon. Volume #2 – The Child in the City addresses play as a methodology for design
Volume #3 – The Venice Lagoon pairs speculation which draws on knowledge of the Lagoon to suggest possible futures for Venice (and the U.K.). To purchase any or all of these volumes please visit www.cornerhouse.org/books, where prices are staggered accordingly, with a discounted price for two or three volumes.
Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others; but of the three, the only quite trustworthy one is the last. John Ruskin (1819–1900), St Mark’s Rest, (Kent: George Allen, 1875), p. 7
Published on Feb 3, 2013
muf were author of the UK pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2010. This is the first of 3 publications writen by muf and our collaborators.