In an 18th century palazzo by the Rialto market along the Canal Grande the new show Art or Sound at the Prada Foundation is showcasing art works exploring music and sound. The exhibition is curated by long term Prada collaborator Germano Celant and will be open for the duration of the architecture biennale until November.
The building itself is exquisitely detailed and is being completely restored. The second floor piano nobile is open to the public for the first time. In a space like this there is a theatrical aspect, where the exhibited works blend with the setting – a very different experience from the traditional clinical gallery space.
With a range of works from the 16th century, including instruments, paintings and clocks to musical installations of the 1960s and the present day, the show explores formal, sensory and abstract qualities around music. One of the central works is Jannis Kounellis‘ performance piece from 1972 Sensa tilulo. Da invent are sul post (Untitled. To be Invented on the Spot), which is recreated here to a score of Igor Stravinsky with a dancer, a violinist and a painting. It’s a delicate piece on repetition and improvisation and was presented at Documenta 5 in Kassel, which was curated by Harald Szeemann. SEE VIDEO
From political satire to performance and archive, responses to this year’s theme ‘Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014’ at the Venice Biennale www.labiennale.org/en/architecture are varied and interesting. At the Swiss pavilion a marathon program of talks during the opening days was orchestrated by London based curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist around the legacies of sociologist Lucius Burckhardt and architect Cedric Price’s 1960’s concept the Fun Palace.
On day two Swiss architectural duo Herzog & de Meuron discussed the question of preservation with Chris Dercon, the director of Tate Modern in London. The modernist project was famously all about creating new structures, better designed to increase well-being, health and prosperity, but preservation is an “eternal issue in architecture” as Dercon pointed out, and a political one: “less money, less preservation”
The radical visions of high modernism, perhaps Le Corbusier, a fellow Swiss who dreamt of re-organisning the centre of Paris, were considered by Jacques Herzog as modernist provocations. Herzog spoke about Burkhardt’s influence: “Lucius was sharpening our awareness to ask other possibilities and not always do the big gesture. You have to keep stuff.” He said that one of the big challenges in architecture is “dealing with pre-existing forms”.
Elsewhere the question of preservation was raised at the Arsenale in the Albanian exhibition overseen by Beyond Entropy. Simple urban structures are significant as part of the country’s heritage that should be preserved from radical master planning. Atelier Albania is a Dutch-funded organisation that looks for the creative potential in Albania’s future by restoring organic systems instead of radical redevelopment. It’s an interesting situation, where real possibilities could be explored by saving informal aspects in cities.