Diary of Vardiya 13 – Retrospective

Day 00- 15.10.2018 Monday

We all met at the Ataturk airport to head Venice. After very first introduction of ourselves to each other, we settled into Camplus Redentore where located near to Redentore Church. Then as first meeting with city, we all enjoyed city view at Fondaco dei Tedeschi Venezia. After pizza, the day ended with chilled and happy faces.

Day 01- 16.10.2018 Tuesday

Today we first went to Arsenale by ferry and got our biennial entrance tickets. In the Pavilion of Turkey we had a brief talk with Yağız on the purpose of the shift. He gave us the directions on exercise: 1 (on site #1) Keyword Treasure Hunt that we will play for two days –while visiting the exhibitions in Giardini and Arsenale we will be looking for the 3 keywords given to us from a list of 24. We will be producing our own dictionary including the other meaning attributions in each pavilion and our interpretations on the words. We rushed to the Giardini after the talk and started visiting the pavilions. Around 8 we met again and had a discussion on the exersise. We tried to define the way of representing / interpreting the words. To close off we went back to Redentore and had a great meal with white wine!

Day 02- 17.10.2018 Wednesday

The day started with the inspection by all the participants of the debate video between Kutan Ayata and Pelin Tan, the second of whom has a rather futuristic approach on exhibitive practices. She claims that with the developing technologies, our dependence on traditional exhibitive elements would be diminishing. Ayata on the other hand, suggests that representation techniques as physical models and conventional bidimensional images, no mater how primitive, are and will be among the most effective tools that contribute to the perception of architectural elaborations. Later we had a digital roundtable with Ebru Kurbak, who introduced us to her works, and her ideas about Freespace as a concept. In the afternoon we proceeded to inspect the Giardini portion of the Biennial and surveyed the pavilions in relation to their association to the keywords we had agreed to elaborate on the day before. Giardini was already visited in the previous day, so most of our time was dedicated to the Arsenale. We finalized the day, inserting what we had found to be potentially associated to the keywords (such as informal, culture, intervention, online,…) inside the research layout that was provided by our workshop tutors.

Day 03- 18.10.2018 Thursday

We have started the day with presentations regarding the Shifts, each of the participants had received as a preliminary work prior to our arrival in Venice. Each participant presented the Shift they were assigned and the group commented on the work.

We shared drawing and representation duties. With the aim of updating the previous representations, a group started to redraw the axonometric drawings of the pavilion, another began the remodeling of the three-dimensional model, while another started to prepare detailed CAD drawings tracing the interventions made to the modules by the related shift team. The current situation of the modules and the pavilion’s overall standing also started to be documented by one participant via photography.

In the afternoon we had a conversation with Cynthia Davidson in our second Roundtable Meeting. The entire conversation was held in Question and Answer format and Cynthia articulated on the content of this year’s Venice Biennale, her experience as the co-curator of the previous US Pavilion, her position on participation and design, the emergence of Anyone Corporation, differences of editorship and curatorship, and the substance of a publication’s format. She opened the conversation with a stress on the variety of biennales being held as of this year, hence the problem of referring to the Biennale of Venice as “the Biennale”. She went on expressing her appreciation for this year’s curatorship of Venice Biennale being awarded to two women architects even though her being dissatisfied due the lack of energy and catalytic content in this year’s edition. Following a question about the expected coherence of a national pavilion with the theme of a biennale, she further elaborated on the potential of the mandate of a biennale’s curator and the national pavilions’ coherence with the given theme, raising 2014 Venice Biennale curated by Rem Koolhaas as example. When asked about her co-curatorship of US Pavilion during the 2016 Venice Biennale, she discussed on their take of a potential new architecture in Detroit and further elaborated on the theme of participation and design. Cynthia also commented on her experience as curator and editor, and the differences of these two practices. Finalizing the meeting was her insights on the journal ANY and how the discussion on its content and format evolved over time resulting in the Log Journal.

The shift moved onto wrapping up the day’s work after the Roundtable Meeting. Later, we went to have dinner and took a stroll around the city, indulging ourselves with wine, chats on art and architecture, and late night espressos.

Day 04- 19.10.2018 Friday

In the morning, we started talking about Vardiya’s ideas, future, exhibitions, recycle of the used materials… Since our shift is about the survey of Vardiya, we searched for the tools of making a survey. We discussed some questions such as what are we going to survey? Which analyses, observations, researches should be done before the end of the shift? After a fruitful session of sharing ideas, we went to the cells which are assigned us to measure the approximate time spent on each. In addition, we imagined ourselves as visitors and tried to figure out if the exhibition design of the cells are understandable / readable. Regarding that, we discussed about the visibility of the background process of the shifts including the theoretical readings, references and digital conversation and discussions. Further on, we had a debate on making them more visible. After a small observation, we discussed the relations between the actual processes of works and the current design of the cells, transformation of the fabrics with Kerem Piker and Yagiz Soylev. During the conversation, we critically approached to the capability of the shift cells in terms of their way of display.

Later on, in the afternoon we started drawing our own shift’s sections and plans. The aim of the work was recording the interventions made to / within the cells during the shifts. From the 3D model of the Pavilion of Turkey, which was modified yesterday, we extracted the sections and plans (if necessary) of each shift. Then, we added the modifications made within each shift to these drawings. Because of the closing time of Biennale, we had to leave. Therefore, we gave a dinner break. After, we came back to the dormitory, we continued drawing the sections and plans.

Day 05- 20.10.2018 Saturday

Today, we have started the day by completing our survey drawings. Then, we printed the sections and plans to check the graphic quality. After reviewing the drawings, we had a discussion on the future life of the elements used in the exhibition with Kerem Piker and Yağız Söylev. We have expressed our ideas, especially on the possible uses of the styrofoam cubes and the white textiles, after the end of the biennale.

In the afternoon we had a Digital Roundtable with Vasıf Kortun. He briefly explained his perspective on the current state of the biennials and the special status of the Venice Biennale. During the Roundtable, the potentials and the complications of the biennials were discussed. Regarding his relationship with SALT, his ideas about public and private institutions in the art millieu were asked. After Kortun, we had a conversation with Aslı Çiçek. She made a short presentation about the historical development of the biennial culture and answered our questions regarding her approach in this year’s Istanbul Design Biennial and her previous works in the field of exhibition design. Related to her editorial role in XXI and OASE Magazines, the comparison between editorial and curatorial practices have been discussed. After these fruitful digital talks, we had a final conversation with Kerem Piker and Yağız Söylev about our opinions and reflections on Vardiya.

Day 06- 21.10.2018 Sunday

For the last day of the 13th shift and the last day of Vardiya, we started the day editing and test printing the explanatory brochures of the previous shifts. As each member of the 13th shift finalized their drawings, we started printing the brochures we were planning to leave at the pavilion. In the meantime, we started on the additional page to add to our shift reports, which consisted of our opinions and reflections of the shifts once we saw them in the Biennale. As everyone started wrapping up their final pieces of writings, two of us started hanging the exhibition copies of each explanatory brochure on the fabric of each shift, while the rest of the group continued folding and organizing. Once we finished all the tasks, we started cleaning up the roundtable and the area for the final time. As Vardiya would be coming to an end before the Biennale, we decided to leave the previous roundtable discussions on a loop at the area where we worked, so the visitors will be able to see and understand the progress that happened at the exhibition space.

We laid out our final production of the brochures at the roundtable, and took one last picture of the end of Vardiya in Venice. We discussed the future of Vardiya and what it will become once the Biennale ended. We took one last look at the work produced through the course of Vardiya as we left the pavilion for the last time, and all of us felt proud to be a part of this project. We spent the remainder of the day exploring Arsenale, and getting ready to leave Venice.

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Diary of Vardiya 12 – Treasure hunt

Day 01- 09.10.2018 Tuesday

Our second day in Venice started with a trip by vaporettos to Arsenale. Our first aim was finding a good place to have breakfast, therefore we ended up in the streets of Castello before the opening time of the biennial. We couldn’t help ourselves to look around that beautiful city, everytime trying to find a better place, resulting not having breakfast at all. Getting our cards in Arsenale, we passed from the exibition parts of the biennial, having a little clue about what we are going to see during the rest of the day. Finally we made it to the Pavilion of Turkey just in time, met Katarina and quickly tried to explore the Arsenale until our set time for digital meeting with our tutors. We had only a few hours to explore the biennial which was a little bit challenging but also fun. To me, the most incredible part was seeing all the different techniques of creating architectural models, and the materials used. The idea of freespace was taken so differently in each pavilion that it was hard to understand some of them. Exibited ideas were also strong. The Pavilion of Iceland was my favorite part, the idea of freespace and its presentation was so powerful and incredibly effective. We couldn’t help ourselves to take quite a few videos from their installation. After having a fast tour in the Arsenale, we went back to the Pavilion of Turkey, to meet our tutors. It was a nice quick talk and we continued our tour in Arsenale until the closing time. The day has ended with a glass of Sprizt and a beautiful dinner near the canal.

Day 02- 10.10.2018 Wednesday

As we had planned from the day before, we had our breakfast quickly and “climbed” on the vaporetto–which was going to be our companion for the next six days ahead of us–in order to go to the Giardini to see what was going on in the rest of the Biennale. From our experience of the previous day, we made ourselves a compact program so that we could see as much as we could. We basically started from the Pavilion of Switzerland, since it was the one closest to entrance, and continued in circles till we felt like we saw enough of what we could see by walking around for around six hours. Oh, if we go back a few hours, I should mention that some of us woke up super early in the morning in order to be able to finish reading the articles that we had received and that we should have read before our lecturers came to the Pavilion of Turkey.

As we entered the pavilions we made basic expressions, criticized or just walked around and tried our best to continue reading and absorbing what was going on. There were pavilions we lingered in and there were some we collectively decided not to see in detail just because we were so tired and there was so much to see. And there were details, like Carlo Scarpa’s, that would excite us along the way and that would motivate us to fight with the physical tiredness of our bodies. I should say that towards the end of the day, our necks and our ability to read each pavilion’s statement became the hardest task in the world to accomplish but in the end we were amazingly satisfied. We put more time to see the Pavilions of Japan, Switzerland, Israel, USA and the Nordic Pavilion and of course there were many pavilions in the central pavilion like Assemble’s pavilion that we tried to spare more time for as we had excitedly planned to see since we were back in Turkey.

That evening after our elaborate hunt in the Giardini, we sat down at a random restaurant (finding the right place to eat in Venice is a task hard to accomplish!) with the group and our coordinator from Studio-X and we all started to know each other better by introducing ourselves and talking about our future plans or what we were doing. It was a nice eat-and-talk evening activity. If I remember correctly, my day finished by going to the supermarket for gathering some food for the next day and then going back to the dormitory to finish off a whole day of journey by throwing myself on my bed and sleeping sound like a baby!

Day 03- 11.10.2018 Thursday

After spending the first half of the day with the readings, we met our tutors Selva, Greggers and Holger on Thursday afternoon. We went to Piazza San Marco and Holger Klein explained the term “spolia” with its connections between the Eastern civilizations and “reinvention” of Venice. We took a closer look at the details of narratives of St. Marco Church and the Doge’s Palace. Holger told us the story of individual elements like the tetrarchy sculpture taken from Constantinople, the marble pieces resembling to the ones in Hagia Sophia, the four horses of the Hippodrom of Constantinople etc. Afterwards we took a walk through the narrow streets of Venice to start our “treasure hunt”. We stopped by many other spolia pieces taken from Eastern world, discussed and documented them.

Day 04- 12.10.2018 Friday

In the first half of the day, we attended Deborah Howard’s presentation in Arsenal. We studied Venice and the eastern world and interactions with each other. After watching the presentation, we asked our questions and discussed together on the topic. We then talked to Holger about “Treasure Hunt” and went to San Marco to take a few photos, then come back to Arsenal and negotiate to photograph them. In fact, everyone went on their “treasure hunt” at San Marco. Then we met in the Arsenale at the time we set. We looked at the photos we took and talked on them.


Day 05- 13.10.2018 Saturday

Day 06- 14.10.2018 Sunday

The 12th shift explored the city of Venice and tried to find out similarities between Istanbul and Venice all week. Each of us had their very own experience during the week, we discussed about the interaction between the two Mediterranean cities, how it happened, the history of this interaction and how this interaction resulted. Most interesting point is the architectural elements that were “exported” from Istanbul to Venice, decorating the façades of many of the Venetian architectural examples. During the week, we documented Byzantine and Ottoman elements that can be seen in and on the façades of several buildings. Today, the collection of each have, been discussed, combined and interpreted into a representation to exhibit on our pavilion. Since process comes first in this shift, we documented and exhibited the “process” of our journey and also how two cities influenced one another.

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Diary of Vardiya 11 – Redrawing Venice

Day 01- 02.10.2018 Tuesday

We woke up early in the morning after our arrival in Venice and we went to Redentore stop to ride the ferry. First, we had to go to the Pavilion of Turkey. We went to our pavilion in Arsenale to hand over some documents, pick up our cards, pick up the phone of Vardiya, see the pavilion and check the list of materials. We had time for coffee and breakfast in a cafe before we reached the pavilion. After we saw the works in the pavilion, we started to visit Arsenale. While examining the pavilions in Arsenale, it was very useful to see new methods in architectural representation methods. According to the theme called as free space in this year, it was a good experience to see different countries handling this issue. We have seen architectural solutions for free space in different countries. After the tour of the pavilions, we had a lunch break together and we continued to visit the exhibition. At the entrance of Arsenale, it was a pleasure to experience the installations of different architecture offices in the main area, mostly in a 1:1 scale. Those who rushed Arsenale went to Giardini. The rest of the group continued to travel around Arsenale. We set a certain hour in the evening and met for dinner. Then we took our ice cream and walked the streets of Venice for a long time and spent time in the Santa Margherita square and returned to where we stayed overnight.

Day 02- 03.10.2018 Wednesday

On our second day, we started the day at Giardini. We met with our coordinators for first time at our lunch break while trying to complete to visit the all country pavilions and the main pavilion. We discussed about how we will proceed in the coming days and what we will study about. After this brief meeting, we spent some time at the Giardini, and then left there to visit the exhibition where works of Francois Roche and Peter Eisenman are exhibited who will be our roundtable and keynote speech guests in this shift. Then we separated to groups to visit our buildings which we had chosen and will be working at this workshop. These five buildings are; Fondacio dei Tedeschi, San Giorgio Maggiore, San Marco Campanile, Santa Maria della Salute and Scuola Grande di San Marco. After doing some researches and analysis, we got back together and spent our time sitting by a canal and having a nice pizza.

Day 03- 04.10.2018 Thursday

This was our first day in the pavilion with tutors. We meet at the pavilion at 9:30 and started the day with a robust discussion about the idea of ‘Rewriting History’. Tutors Eren and Erdem started the conversation with a brief introduction to the elementary concepts of Object Oriented Onthology, we’ve discussed about Graham Harman’s and David Ruy’s work and how they are related to architecture today. We’ve also discussed about Evliya Çelebi’s memorials, Piranesi’s etchings called ‘Views’ or ‘Vedute’, the beginning of movie: Star Wars (1.000.000 years ago in a far far away galaxy), drawing and its critical relationship with architecture, concepts of approximation & abstraction and how those are related with spatial design, representation and critique of it, history and how it is written, iconography, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo, language of architecture, legibility and so on…

After our prosperous conversation, we started preparations for François Roche’s online roundtable talk. At 11:00 we contacted Roche. We made a brief introduction on who he is, and on his work. Then our speaker talked for approximately thirty minutes without a break before imitating an online suicide. We tried contacting him for a while and then gave up after fifteen minutes. It was a pity not having a chance to discuss about his work and our perspective, which we were very excited about. Also, it was unfortunately very hard to hear his speech because of some connection and pronounciation problems. Two days later, we’ve heard that he declared becoming a zombie after the suicide and wants to answer our questions if we have any. Anyways, after this disappointing event, we’ve gathered as a group to talk about our assigned buildings. Every participant showed some images and preliminary drawings about her/his building and we discussed each of them. After that, we’ve talked about formal analysis, mostly about Peter Eisenman’s method of it, checked some examples, and tried to use this method on our assigned buildings in order to articulate more understanding about them. After this, tutors made a critique list and talked with each participant about how they would like to move forward working on their building.

Lastly, at around 17:00 we contacted our second online roundtable speaker, David Ruy. He gave a very interesting talk, weaving a discussion around topics like; defamiliarization, speculative realism, weird objects, mediation of the world, J.G. Ballard and his internalistic unusual way of writing fiction, aesthetics, represantation, micro colonialism and so on…

After this very hard working day, with all group we went to a restaurant in via Garibaldi, which is close to the Pavilion of Turkey. There we delved into really nice pasta, pizza, aperol and prosecco. At some point in that tiring night, we’ve seen a giant cruiser ship entering Venezian waters. It was ironically ‘defamiliarized’, weird, and poetic at the same time.

Day 04- 05.10.2018 Friday

After a very busy and suprising day with the suicide of Francois Roche we have learned that he will continue his life as a zombie! We all relaxed a bit and after two dense speeches by architects Francois Roche and David Ruy we had lots of inspirational and futuristic thoughts on our minds. We came to Arsenale at 8 AM, earlier than the other days and we have started with talking about some formal analysis of the buildings, which we were assigned to work on. We tried to solve some architectural elements of the buildings and drew some formal analysis diagrams. We have discussed about those diagrams with our instructors individually. They gave us some feedback about our works. We had one more online conversation with David Norell from Norell/Rodhe architects from Stockholm. We have talked about his projects “Grain figures”, “Klumpedunser”, “Nine rooms”, “Erratic”, “Two- face furniture” and “Skelleptea kulturhus”! It was a very good presentation and we have learned a lot about his design process and his way to abstract real life objects in a very abstract way. He also talk about some fabrication methods and technology related with his design. After this conversation we continued to develop our ideas and talked again with the instructors. Everyone studied individually and during this process some visitors asked us about our projects. At the end of the day, we left the building quite late and continued work in our dormitory!

Day 05- 06.10.2018 Saturday

After Friday’s hard work and evening bonanza, Saturday started with several cappuccinos and delicious marmelade croissants at our usual meeting spot near Redentore. This time we met earlier at the Arsenale than usual for an early design session in order to get some work done before we would have the opportunity to meet with “Uncle Eisi”. The reason why I call Peter Eisenman uncle Eisi is the way that he approached our group. From the start, the dialogue with Mr. Eisenman felt like an informal conversation with family members over some afternoon cake and coffee. Still, Peter never failed to express precisely his critical thoughts about the discipline of architecture while creating a friendly atmosphere that engaged all the visitors and workshop members to join the discussion. After his speech on the importance of experiencing spaces of Venice and drawing them in order to understand their values we decided to finish most of the workshop assignment until the evening so that we could spend the Sunday afternoon for further exploring the city. As usual, the evening work session was topped of with some tasty Italian food and Prosecco followed by a spontaneous night visit of the Redentore Church in Giudecca.

Day 06- 07.10.2018 Sunday

On Sunday, October 7th, we have started off our day with finishing the final remaining parts of our projects, taking prints and setting up the exhibition. We have finalized our reinterpretative drawings of our selected buildings, and our written explanatory texts elaborating the scenario that we have conceived. We have printed a catalogue covering all of our projects and also posters that explain the history and analysis of the building. We have scanned our sketches and plan drawings and hanged them to our shift’s spot according to our exhibition format. After having finished printing and hanging our materials, we have left the Pavilion of Turkey. In our spare afternoon we have visited the Vatican chapels that are interpreted by famous architects in the scope of the biennale. We also had the chance to visit the Church of the Santissimo Redentore which was highly recommended to us by Eisenman that it was the building to see in Venice. As he claimed, among many other Palladio buildings that exist in the city, Redentore was a particular experience indeed. Later we headed towards the Grand Canal and spent the rest of the night having a good dinner and wandering in the streets of Venice.

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