This year at the Venice Biennale, the Polish Pavilion goes back to the basics and listens to the universe as it speaks to us in the language of architecture. The Amplifying Nature exhibition, created by the CENTRALA architecture studio, Iza Tarasewicz and Jacek Damięcki, opened to the public on 26th May 2018.
Amplifying Nature is a concept that is supposed to reconstruct the planetary imagination of architecture. The causal aspect of nature, the material basis of biological existence, has been removed from the view of construction for living, working and resting. The Amplifying Nature project stands for the opposite: the transcorporeality of architecture, meaning that processes involved in the reproduction of the planet as we know it mediate the social routines in the form of buildings we inhabit. The universe speaks to us in the language of architecture.
Members of Warsaw-based CENTRALA architecture studio have analysed the phenomena of gravity, light oscillation and water circulation in modernist projects created in socialist Poland on the verge of the Great Acceleration with an empathy for and understanding of the Earth’s workings. They have also designed two new ones, taking the natural processes hinging on the phenomena – rain and circadian rhythms – as actual matter of architecture. This proposal, which acknowledges that geological and life-sustaining metabolism of the planet are changed by humans in general, points to the local and particular modes of imagining and constructing the collective life.
The exhibition can be approached on three levels. It presents the research on selected 1954–1976 works by affiliates of the Art and Research Unit at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, including those who became known for their later individual practices: Team 10’s Oskar and Zofia Hansen, and the visionary Jacek Damięcki. It showcases new sculptural interpretations of these taken-for-granted processes providing the basis for both the planet and architecture in general.
CENTRALA is collaborating with sculptor Iza Tarasewicz to create the affective and materially responsive environment of the exhibition. The concept of ‘amplifying nature’, which captures this dynamic in various scales and a collection of research materials and interdisciplinary conversations in the book Amplifying Nature: The Planetary Imagination of Architecture in the Anthropocene, edited by Anna Ptak.
CENTRALA is an architecture collective comprised of Małgorzata Kuciewicz and Simone De Iacobis. They pursue independent research, reinterpretation and interventions aimed at renewing the understanding of spatial complexity conveyed by architecture, especially that of post-war socialist modernism.
The Polish Pavilion will host a discussion between the authors of the two books accompanying the Amplifying Nature in the Polish Pavilion and DESIGN EARTH in the US Pavilion. How do we make sense of the Earth at a moment in which it is presented in crisis? Geostories: Another Architecture for the Environment is a manifesto for environmental imagination that renders sensible the issues of climate change and, through geographic fiction, invites readers to relate to the complexity of Earth’s systems in their vast scales of time and space. Amplifying Nature proposes a reconfiguration of the narrative on nature-in-architecture and architecture-in-nature.
The discussion will be mediated by James Graham, editor of Climates: Architecture and Planetary Imaginary, Director of Publications and Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia GSAPP.
Meetings on Architecture at the Polish Pavilion
Visions of Space
Presentation and panel discussion
12 September 2018, at 2:30 PM
Teatro alle Tese, Arsenale
Anna Ptak (curator, Polish Pavilion)
Małgorzata Kuciewicz (architect, Polish Pavilion),
Kaja Schelker (architect and researcher, the Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design at the University of Stuttgart),
Saskia van Stein (educator, curator and researcher of architecture and design, director of Bureau Europa)
Organisers: Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Polish Modern Art Foundation
The panel discussion Visions of Space is devoted to the idea of architectural experiment in the context of current knowledge on the dynamic processes of Earth transformation. The practice of Jacek Damięcki, visionary of architecture and experimental architecture, whose works have been revisited only after 50 years, will serve as the point of departure for the conversation.
The architecture of modernisation created at the brink of the Great Acceleration (1945/1970) - a period when industrial production and demographic boom made mankind a fully-fledged metabolic factor of Earth - is characterised by technological optimism and protectionism in relation to the cultural landscape of nature. From time's perspective, we know that it's not so much the possibility to control the surroundings through a designed environment, but rather the relations between constructive and destructive factors that co-create it that determine the future of ecosystems. Imagination and experience are needed to understand this link and combine the large scale with the small scale. Politics or fiction can serve as such tools, but what about architecture?
Architecture as a human activity that reinforces and is reinforced by processes from the realm of nature is an essential topic in the practice of Jacek Damięcki, architect active in Poland since the 1960s. He has carried out a great diversity of projects: starting from devices allowing a corporal perception of the elements, through buildings experimenting with the forces of construction - e.g. replacing gravity with buoyancy - and ending with mesoregional melioration and urban projects. Parting from the proposition that a research of architecture and its historical designs can be a way to create an alternative genealogy of modernisation, we would like to refer to his practice in its local context and to the potential of architecture as a tool allowing to expand the imagination of planetary processes.
The Visions of Space discussion panel is part of the Meetings on Architecture Programme; and it makes reference to the FREESPACE Manifesto by Yvonne Farell and Shelley MacNamara by reviewing the concept of “Client Earth”. Meetings on Architecture is a programme of events taking place during the 16th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, from May to November 2018. The Programme is curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, and explores all the aspects of their FREESPACE Manifesto.
Visions of Space is an accompanying event of the Amplifying Nature exhibition, featuring the CENTRALA (Małgorzata Kuciewicz and Simone De Iacobis) in cooperation with Iza Tarasewicz and Jacek Damięcki, on view in the Polish Pavilion at the Biennale Architettura 2018 (www.labiennale.art.pl).
Jacek Damięcki is an architect and inventor. His uncompromising spatial concepts and syncretic designs combine elements from many areas - art, geometry, sports. Since the 1960s, he has been developing architectural and exhibition projects, as well as painting and spatial macro-installations.
Damięcki is an author of the biggest art installations in public space in Poland: Warsaw XXX (1974), The Cloud (1994).
In 2016, Zachęta National Gallery of Art presented his monography exhibition (Jacek Damięcki. Macro-forms). The Amplifying Nature exhibition in the Polish Pavilion at the Biennale Architettura 2018 features the reconstruction of Jacek Damięcki's idea of a "Rotating Pavilion on Water" from 1975.
Participants of the Visions of Space discussion panel:
Małgorzata Kuciewicz – architect and researcher. Author of projects aimed at encouraging reflection on the urban space, as well as of exhibitions and architectural designs. Together with Simone De Iacobis, she forms part of the CENTRALA - a Warsaw studio performing independent research, re-interpretation and interventions to renew the language of architecture and the city. They are authors of the Amplifying Nature exhibition in the Polish Pavilion at the Biennale Architettura 2018.
Selected projects: Decoding Khirki Climate-Responsive Design (Khoj International Artists' Association, New Delhi 2016), Dido's Blanket, microarchitecture for communities (Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw 2016, within the framework of the Akademie Schloss Solitude residency) and The CUT - a Socio-Spatial incursion into Warsaw's Anthropogenic Stratum (with Aslı Çavuşoğlu, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw 2015).
Anna Ptak – curator of art and research projects, with a background in cultural anthropology. She is the curator of the Amplifying Nature exhibition presented in the Polish Pavilion at the Biennale Architettura 2018.
She works as a curator and co-manager of the international residency programme at the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw.
Ptak is a curator of exhibitions exploring the ecological and political implications of culture-forming practices: Maja Bekan: 23 Assemblies (Warsaw 2017), Five Pieces on a Background (Izolyatsia, Kiev 2016), kurz/dust/ghobar (Warsaw 2015).
Editor of many books: The Make Yourself at Home Guide to Warsaw (with Monnik and Rani Al Rajji, 2015), Inicjatywy i galerie artystów [Artist-run Initiatives and Galleries] (with Agnieszka Pindera and Wiktoria Szczupacka, 2015), Re-tooling Residencies. On Mobility of Art Professionals (2009).
Kaja Schelker – tutor and research assistant at the Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design at the University of Stuttgart chaired by Professor Werner Sobek.
She is a doctoral candidate at Faculty of History and the Arts at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich. Her PHD research is supervised by Professor Burcu Dogramaci and focuses on interdependencies of Stalinist architecture and regional culture based on the oeuvre of the Polish architect Anna Górska. Her research in academia is funded partly by the German Historical Institute in Warsaw.
Professionally Kaja Schelker has trained at Jüngling Hagmann Architects and Men Duri Arquint Architect in Switzerland. She studied Architecture at the University of Stuttgart and the University of Porto. She is a licensed architect in Germany.
Saskia van Stein – is artistic and managing Director at Bureau Europa, platform for architecture and design in Maastricht. As a presentation and network organization, Bureau Europa presents exhibitions and other activities in the field of architecture, design, instable media and urbanism. From a broad cultural perspective, the issues addressed in this institute relate to contemporary societal global urgencies and how these are analyzed, addressed or expressed in the designed environment.
Van Stein has an ardent social and cultural commitment and is actively involved in many debates on art, architecture and design, both as a cultural practitioner, writer and as educator she’s frequently involved in guest lecturing. She’s part of numerous committees and juries such as The Prix de Rome and Dutch Design Awards jury. Currently she’s also part of the advisory committee to the Council for Culture.
Polish Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia – Amplifying Nature
Venice, 26th May – 25th November 2018
Created by: CENTRALA – Małgorzata Kuciewicz, Simone De Iacobis, in collaboration with Iza Tarasewicz and Jacek Damięcki
Curated by: Anna Ptak
Polish Pavilion commissioner: Hanna Wróblewska
Deputy commissioner: Joanna Waśko
Organised by: the Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, Warsaw
Find out more: www.labiennale.art.pl, www.zacheta.art.pl
Polish participation at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia was made possible through the financial support of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland. Additional promotional activities supported by Adam Mickiewicz Institute/Culture.pl.
Sources: press materials, compiled by NR, May 2018