Diary of Vardiya 7 – Obituary Island

28th of August, Tuesday

On the long awaited first day of the 7th Vardiya, we arrived at the Turkish Pavilion for the first time after going through a long promenade in the main exhibition hall located in the Arsenale. Following the first attempts of grasping the technical directions to connect Vardiya #7 to the outer world, we had our first meeting with the fellow tutors who further illustrated the process and the program we will be following for the coming days of our shift. After meeting with them, the team moved back to discovering Arsenale, getting around visiting inspiring pavilions.

At 5 pm, we then had a roundtable meeting with Isaac Michan. He started off the conversation with his responses to functioning of a biennale and its framing. After that he presented three projects of his practice, concerning the current developments in digital tools, his practice develops under the theoretical background of contingency and autonomy and additionally the debate between the two affects his understanding of architecture. Among the several questions of ours, the discussion circled mainly around the topics of importance of representation, teaching of architecture and sustainability.

29th of August, Wednesday

The day started off with our visit to Vatican Chapels located at the San Giorgio Maggiore island, housing the first-ever pavilion of glorious Vatican that left many of us speechless and inevitably astonished. Following our small trip, we found ourselves lost in excitement and simultaneous rush while going through the pavilions of Giardini della Biennale. Following our time in Giardini, we digitally connected with the tutors to exchange ideas on the topic of shift #7 and our impressions on Venice Biennale. After the digital roundtable discussion, as the participants of the current shift, we debated on the possible ways of extending the theme to its very extent and how we could make contributions to it in imaginative ways. Having done with our discussion on the theme, we then started to reflect on the debated ideas through the most effective tool of our time, social media.

30th of August, Thursday

Today, according to our program; we visited The San Michele Island where the cemetery of Venice is located. Because our subject is related to death, as we can understand from our workshop name, ”Obituary Island”, we were looking forward to have inspiration from this beautiful island. Within a very silent atmosphere, we walked around, took photographs and made some sketches. While some of us described this island of cemetery as depressive, overplanned, and highly classificated area according to social rank, others defined the place as unexpected and unconventional.

After our experience in the island, we returned to our pavillion in Arsenale and discussed some ideas about our work. During the following hours, we had a discussion with Bernard Khoury who has various projects in Lebanon. After his speech on several of his works that arose from the political background of Lebanon, we asked him some questions about the role of academy in architecture that he answered with negative ideas.

At the end of the day, we left the pavillion in order to have dinner together.

31st of August, Friday

The fourth day of our Vardiya have started intensively. Because we had the first meeting with our tutors at lunch, we continued to discuss our work and tried to decide some main ideas and sub-ideas that will form our process of work. With our experiences on the island and Venice and with several materials that we have collected from these areas, we decided to focus on a series of deaths and their processes in time with different kind of representations. Some of our ideas were like these:
‘’Ways of dying in Venice?’’
‘’Death Islands’’
‘’Venice is dying/decaying continuously’’
‘’Life is made of various strata of death’’
‘’Dance with masks’’
‘’Visual life and death’’
At noon, we met with the tutors and made another discussion session with them. After we shared our initial ideas, we quickly started to improve on the subject.
At the end, we went to a dinner all together and finalized the day.

1st of September, Saturday

We began the day with a discussion with the tutors to rigidify the main conceptual idea and framework. We structured the concept of “Death” in Venice in a durational sense: past, present, future. Each of us brings to the overall framework different aspects of understanding and exploring the definition of death in Venice. The discussion extended to the method of representation, of how the works should be presented in the exhibition space. We decided to use mixed media as a main strategy to inform a concept of “Cloud.” The media of expression are varied from hand drawings to physical models to writing and video.

In the afternoon, we began to separate to work in smaller groups or individually. The collaborative environment allows each of us to share thought; feedback from each other. In the end, we were able to work on an abstract concept of death, in order to enrich it with a spatial, cultural, and temporal quality. The final discussion and feedback from the tutors ended our productive day. Now we move on finalizing our works and setting up our exhibition.

2nd of September, Sunday

The last day of our Vardiya started early. We continued to study individually or with our groups in order to finalize our works in a cloud within our exhibition cell.

We stayed in our pavillion the whole day. While we were working on the projects, our tutors helped us in organizing the final exhibition. Because we had different aspects of death and different experiences of Venice; we created different and interesting works in the cloud. There were different subtopics about death in Venice, but important thing was to combine each of them together, so that the exhibition cloud can be followed like a storyboard.

At the end, we had an exhibition space that consists of stories about death in Venice, created with different media tools such as videos, collages, renders, models, postcards, which emphasize the freespace itself. Also, it was important to experience how a space can be designed with different tools and what kind of reactions it can create between product and visitors.

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