Yesterday it was announced that, for the first time, the 15th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice (until 27th November 2016) will host part of the filming for the Venice New Year's Concert, which will be broadcast live on Sunday January 1st, 2017 throughout Europe.
Principal dancers Emanuela Montanari and Antonino Sutera, will perform with sixteen artists from the Ballet Company of Milan's Teatro alla Scala in the rooms of the Corderie, Sale d'Armi and Tese dei Soppalchi of Venice's Arsenale, dancing on Giuseppe Verdi and Benjamin Britten's music.
Gianluca Schiavoni’s choreographed sequences will find a stage in the settings provided by the installations of the exhibition "Reporting From the Front", curated by Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, and in particular around one project currently on display at the Pavilion of Turkey, "Darzanà: Two Arsenals, One Vessel".
Curated by Feride Çiçekoğlu, Mehmet Kütükçüoğlu and Ertuğ Uçar, with curatorial collaborators Cemal Emden and Namık Erkal, this could be considered as an art and architecture project about frontier infringement and hybridity with strong links with linguistics.
"Darzanà" means dockyard and it is a hybrid word, like the Turkish word "tersane" and the Italian word "arsenale". These words are derived from the same root, the Arabic dara's-sina'a (place of industry) and they originate from the common language that developed in the Mediterranean from the 11th to the 19th century among people such as sailors, travellers, merchants, and warriors.
The background of the project is therefore a shared experience, a common ground between the arsenals of Istanbul and Venice.
The shared language or lingua franca of the Mediterranean area corresponds in this case to an architectura franca: dockyards in both the cities had similar sizes and featured large shipsheds.
The curators found therefore architectural and linguistic similarities to prove that the two cities have a lot in common and tackled in this way themes such as confinement within borders of religion, language, race, nationality, ethnicity and gender.
The project team - Caner Bilgin, Emine Hande Ciğerli, Gökçen Erkılıç, Nazlı Tümerdem and Yiğit Yalgın - then proceeded to put together an installation inspired by all these issues, a 30 metre long vessel named "Baştarda" (from "bastardo"), a word that indicates a cross between a galley and a galleon and is propelled by oars and sails.
The vessel occupies one of the rooms of the Sale d'Armi and is entirely made of abandoned materials found in the old dockyard of Istanbul and transported to Venice to suggest a new connection with the Mediterranean. The structure represents a hybrid way to bridge the gap between cultures and shipyards.
The vessel comprises over 500 pieces - among them wooden molds, measurement units (endaze) and discarded furniture left in the arsenale of Istanbul after the major shipbuilding industry was replaced.
All the pieces are arranged in a visually pleasing composition: in some cases the project team ordered them following a colour scheme; in others geometric principles seemed to prevail, maybe as a reference to the House of Geometry, the first Ottoman school applying western scientific methodology, founded in 1775.
When the Biennale closes, the "Baştarda" will be sent back to Turkey where it will be displayed in a museum.
The "Baştarda" can be interpreted as a wider metaphor that doesn't only point towards common and shared languages and architectural constructions and styles: it is indeed a means of transport that could infringe borders, reminding us at the same time about the migrant crisis and the many people who died attempting to cross the Mediterranean in the last few years.
According to the catalogue notes, the structure also carries the stories and memories of times past, and is therefore a vehicle of "love at last sight" (an expression the curators borrowed from Walter Benjamin's quote: "The delight of the urban poet is love - not at first sight but at last sight").
Employing the "Baştarda" as the background for a dancing performance will be another way to break frontiers and boundaries between cultures, human beings and disciplines as well, while creating zones of reconciliation.
The "Darzanà" project is accompanied by a very intriguing catalogue: edited by Feride Çiçekoğlu and featuring texts by Namık Erkal and Vera Costantini and photographs by Cemal Emden, it features images of the research behind the project, with a visual history of the dockyards located along the northern shores of the famed estuary of the Bosphorus Strait known as Golden Horn or Haliç.
Image credits for this post
1, 2 and 7. "Darzanà - Two Arsenals, One Vessel", Sale d'armi, Arsenale, Venice ©Cemal Emden
3. Istanbul Camialu Shipyard 2016 ©IKSV
4. Golden Horn Arsenal ©Cemal-Emden
5. and 6. Waterfront as frontier ©Cemel-Emden
8 - 17. The "Baştarda" in the Sale d'armi, Venice Arsenale, by Anna Battista