As mentioned in a previous post, the image that accompanies the 15th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice - entitled "Reporting from the front" and directed by Alejandro Aravena - is inspired by Bruce Chatwin's trip to South America.
While travelling Chatwin met an old lady walking the desert carrying an aluminium ladder on her shoulder and discovered she was German archaeologist Maria Reiche studying the Nazca lines.
Standing on the ground, the stones did not make any sense as they were just random gravel; but from the height of the ladder those stones revealed themselves as configurations forming the shapes of birds, jaguars, trees or flowers.
"Maria Reiche did not have the resources to rent a plane to study the lines from above, nor was there the technology to have a drone flying over the desert," Aravena explains in the rationale for the exhibition, "but she was creative enough to still find a way to achieve her goal. The modest ladder is the proof that we shouldn't blame the harshness of constraints for our incapacity to do our job. Against scarcity; inventiveness."
Aravena also highlights in the rationale why Reiche didn't opt for a car or a truck to move around: "This choice would have destroyed the object she was trying to study. So there was a canny understanding of the reality and the means through which to care for it. Against abundance: pertinence."
Inventiveness and pertinence are the key words that inspired "Maria Reiche's Room", located at the entrance of the Central Pavilion in the Giardini, and the first room of the Arsenale. In the latter a forest of steel studs hangs from the ceiling, while the walls are made with layers of plasterboards.
These waste materials (100 tons as a whole; 10,000 m2 of plasterboard and 14 km of metal studs) were relics from the 2015 Art Biennale: disassambled and reassembled (as shown in the videos in this room and in the entrance to the Giardini Central Pavilion), the materials provide visitors with a lesson about recycling, being inventive, thinking laterally and looking at the horizon from a different perspective (as Reiche did).
Aravena's suggestions could definitely be applied to other fields: greed has indeed produced banal results not just in architecture, but also in other creative fields (think about art or fashion...) and looking at the horizon with hope while reacting to the challenges of life with inventiveness and pertinence sound like great lessons to observe on a daily basis.
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