Chintan Gohil and Jason Taylor are activist-videographers that presented on their work and their life story. Jason explained to us about his life journey and how he got attached with the nature and community in the small places all over the world, making movies and pictures from India to El Salvador, and met with small communities from the remote world, and heard different stories. He told us that if he wanted to become a commercial photographer he could earn 30 times higher than what he earns now, but he prefers to live his life like this. On the other hand, Chintan was explaining to us how her life changed after she met Jason, and how she left her profession as an architect to be an activist like Jason.
Sevim Aslan talked about architectural survey methods as an architectural tool with specific sample projects. And also mentioned what and who the architectural biennales are for. She said that the Biennale is an opportunity to exhibit actual problems for architecture and acts as a pool of inspiration for everyone–but especially for architecture students.
Andrew Kovacs is an architect, critic and educator, currently at UCLA.
Kovacs’ meeting, on the other hand, started as an informal Q&A talk. Using his blog Archive of Affinities as a starting point, we probed questions of digital image culture, architectural appropriation, the latent opportunities of kitsch, and the position of a drawing in an architects body of work.
We had a discussion with Ahmet Öğüt about museums and biennials in relation with his work Fahrenheit 451: Reprinted which is a mobile instant printing work in partnership with Leevi Lehto (NTAMO). Project reverses the concept and brings forbidden books to people with the help of a fire engine and its crew. Ögüt has chosen a selection of books that have been banned on seemingly absurd or unexpected grounds. Participants can select a book of their choice and the fire crew will print a copy for them using equipment placed in their vehicle. We also talked about how he perceive the project and driving forces for project.
Öğüt also compared Venice, İstanbul and Berlin biennials. He defined Venice biennials as “Training military service for other biennials.”
He concluded the discussion by answering a question about how he choose his media medium in order to communicate and as a way of expression and mediums role in connecting people even they don’t have personal interest / collective interest. He added that personal priorities should not counteract the needs of the exhibition or the concept.
Han Tümertekin is an Aga Khan Award (2004) winning architect with several publications in international architectural journals, including Domus, Abitare, AV, Oris, Architectural Review, L’architecture d’Aujourd’hui, the World Atlas of Contemporary Architecture, and the Phaidon Atlas of 21st Century World Architecture. His well-known works include the award-winning B2 House in Ayvacık, Turkey. He founded his own firm, Mimarlar Tasarım Danışmanlık in 1986 and has done many project worldwide since. Now he is working with his daughter Zeynep Tümertekin who has previously worked with Eisenman Architects in New York.
There wasn’t a presentation about a specific subject but rather we talked about the biennale, its history, what it is for and whom and what it means. There was a discussion on what each country is trying to express in their pavilions in the age of globalization and the effects of the digital world. The overall idea was that even though the developing technologies allow us to experience the spaces through digital environments, the biennale should be experienced within the space indivıdually and physically. It is an experience of seeing, feeling, observing, understanding etc.
For Zeynep Tümertekin, who is a young architect raised in this digital globalized world, biennale is a space to be inspired and also to inspire. It should be a learning process. It should be accepted as an opportunity to understand architecture through many vıewpoints throughout the world.
Another discussion we had was the Turkey’s role and its approach. We don’t have a long going history in biennale so it was difficult to have a comparison but Han Tümertekin’s opinion on this year’s approach was that it is a risk of brilliance and significance that invites young architects to be a part of such an important organization. It is a collaborative, inspiring and inviting theme which reflects the soul of biennale itself.
There was a discussion about this year’s theme Free Space actually being the theme of the biennale itself since each time there are different installations usıng and filling the free space the biennale is offering. So the question was that can it be the subtheme of all.
In the end, it was a productive and thought provoking discussion that helped us to understand the essence of biennale. It is a tool for architects at any age to learn and get influenced.
Ségolène Pruvot is Director at European Alternatives, a not-for-profit organisation promoting Democracy, Equality and Culture beyond the Nation-State in Europe. We had a roundtable about European Alternatives. We examined several topics. First, we talked about the role of the architect. The boundaries of architecture; how it affects? Then we talked about ‘who governs and who owns the rights to the design of the cities?’ We looked up for several examples about municipalist movements around the world. Then we moved on to the key notion, ‘the right to the city’. Lastly, we talked about the urban commons, like water, air, public facilities…
Pedro Rivera is an architect based in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil (RUA Arquitetos). He is also the director of Studio-X, Rio de Janeiro. We had a talk about the question, ‘What does the Biennale do?’’
The Biennale shows us what is happening all around the world. We can see it through the national pavilions. However, we are not able to see the ‘others’ that are not included in the Biennale. For example, what is going on in Congo? What we see is the dominating trends, while some regions are muted. There are many things happening in the world, about which we have no idea…