In Vino Veritas Biennale Style!
It was the Vernissage days at the 2014 Biennale, and for me those of the Vernissage are the most exciting days to visit the exhibition, more for the fact that you get to meet with old friends than for the presented works as because of the large number of people you can never experience it as you should. During the Vernissage one usually spends the morning and afternoon visiting the pavilions openings, meeting up with friends and of course having a lot of Aperol spritz. And evenings are usually reserved for the parties.
That was the second time that I was involved with the Kosovo National Pavilion as Commissioner on behalf of the Ministry of Culture after our first participation as Kosovo at the Biennale in 2012.
On the second night of the Vernissage I was supposed to go to the Turkish party, which was organized by Murat (Tabanlioglu) at one of the Venetian islands, but during the day I met up with two close friends Winy (Maas) and Jan (Knikker) from MVRDV who invited me to a somewhat private dinner at a restaurant nearby San Marco Square. “You have to come and you’ll going to love it, but it’s a strictly personal invitation”, Jan told me.
It was a bit difficult to reach the place as my phone battery was very low and I was trying to find it without using Google Maps. I finally did find it and, although I thought I was late, apparently most of the guests also got lost and everyone was showing up at around the same time.
So I entered this room that was not larger than 4x4 meters, with a large table in the middle and people sitting around it, and a second row of chairs behind them. I set at one of the chairs close to Jan and could identify some of the people sitting at the large table. Apparently Winy was the moderator of this “debate” and the other people attending were Aaron Betsky, Patrik Schumacher, François Roche & Peter Noever. Anyhow, before the debate started, a gentleman, that I later learned was Robert White, welcomed everyone to the second night of the “Dark Side Club” talks and asked for drinks to be served.
After drinks were poured and Winy made his short opening speech, which was supposed to set the tone of the debate, each participant around the table had his own turn to talk about the curators’ work. I’m not sure if it was the drinks, the late hours or the intimacy of the place, or maybe all of them, but all of the participants around the table took their terms at criticizing Rem (Koolhaas). Everything went on smoothly, with all participants jabbing Rem and telling architecture jokes, but the mood suddenly changed after Patrik (Schumacher) declared that the curated work was brilliant and that the future of architecture was parametric!
This was the moment the “architecture roast” started and the gloves were off! Roche, Noever, and Betsky were all yelling at Patrik. I must say that after few minutes I felt bad for Patrik being called a narcissist, childish, a preacher, etc., and at one point was thinking of standing up and screaming he “knows that parametricism is just a tool" but I think he was enjoying the fact that the debate focused on him and also Betsky anticipated me by telling Patrik that he doesn’t like using offensive words but he felt the need to say to him to “F..k off”. After that he stood up and left the table!
Patrik defense of his view and others’ criticism continued until the end of the debate which apparently lasted for another 2 hours although to me it seemed much shorter than that.
I must say that this was the most fun I had in a Biennale-related event and I was told that these kinds of matchups of participants take place on purpose so the debates are always super interesting. This provided me with the incentive to do something similar back home at the Kosovo Architecture Festival, which involved those Future Architecture young creatives we invited to the event.
Probably because of the young age of our participants “Debates over Beers" were not that serious and they ended up with the young fellows imitating “starchitects” and raising philosophical questions on the meaning of life and why one should become an architect, with the latter definitely being the result of drinking too much beer!
I’m really sorry that just minutes into the Venice “Dark Side Club” debate my cell phone died and couldn’t take any photo to show. All I can add is that I did ask everybody in the room to lend me their power bank to recharge my phone but no one was willing to do it!
There is a link at uncube magazine blog on the DSC I participated at.