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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