10th July Tuesday
The first day started in Arsenale with the introduction of ourselves and a small discussion on what do we expect from Vardiya and what do we think about it. We continued with a little architectural warm-up game where we saw the architectural cliches in our minds.
Before the lunch, we had a small talk with Justin McGuirk on his book, Radical Cities. He presented some critical projects from the book as examples of ‘informal architecture’. We have discussed how can we learn from organic spaces that create themselves and how can it be adapted to formal spaces; what is the role of the architect given the big scale problems and if ‘activist architecture’ can exist/to which scale.
In the afternoon we had two other online calls with SULSOLSAL and Andrew Kovacs. The former started with explaining their ‘critical design’ projects which opened up a fruitful discussion on the ongoing trends like ‘tiny house movement’ or survivalism, and what can the architect do for the possible future cases. Kovacs’ meeting started as a 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.
11th July Wednesday
We met at Giardini in the morning and visited together the Main Pavilion hosting different exhibitions within the theme “freespace” until the lunchtime. During the lunch, we discussed how the architects or the curators conceived and processed the theme “freespace” into their exhibition. The discussion led to the further questioning of the conception of “free space” itself. The questioned we tried to answer include if really there is any free space and possible ways to define it despite its subjectivity.
We spent the rest of the day looking at each country’s presentations, which ranged from bold, minimal statements to extreme content overload. After a long day on our feet, we headed to the OMA-renovated Fondaco dei Tedeschi for some sweet rooftop views.
12th July Thursday
The third day in Vardiya was a full day with four online meetings and discussions upon both Giardini visit and what do we want to produce at the end of our week.
We have started with the continuation of our discussion on the Giardini visit. Then we have the first online meeting with ‘ONAGÖRE’ – Ali Taptık and Okay Karadayılar. They have presented their works mostly concentrating on visual communications and especially DIY Urbanism
‘İmkan/mekan’ and ‘Cevher’. We had a fruitful discussion about how can it be possible to collaborate with the public. The second meeting was with Marco Ferrari from Studio Folder on the edge where architecture touches politics physically on melting Italian borders. In the afternoon, we had another call with Pınar Yoldaş. She presented her work in which she focuses on the ‘human experience’ via a specific medium which she calls ‘Speculative Biology’. With the questions, we have discussed this futuristic, combinatorially ‘free’ area where art – architecture – science learn from each other and turn into real products. Our last call was with Ali Murat Cengiz, who is a musician besides an architect. He explained to us how does he use shape grammars and architecture – two/ three-dimensional physical objects to find another order for a four-dimensional medium which is music.
13th July Friday
On Friday, Cansu Cürgen joined us and we have started by talking about our expressions through the week on the biennial, freespace and vardiya. It was a full day working on our project. We came up with several ideas about what we want to produce and what do we want it to say to the visitors. During the discussions, Nadine helped us a lot about directing our collective thoughts to the more important way and finding the core of our ideas. Afterall, we all agreed on the idea that ‘free space does not exist and only its degrees can be possible within the boundaries. Physically, we realized that the cloth in our reserved area is limiting the space. Thus, we wanted to both free the border by cutting it and the area that it covers. In the end, we cut the cloth from its borders, leaving only the infrastructure of it giving reference to it’s once existence, and we get rid of it as much as possible. We wanted it to be a continuous process of ‘freeing the borders’ and we have turned some of it to souvenir objects which the visitor can take help the cloth to get freed from the biennial area that is a given for her.
14th July Saturday
Today we spent the morning working on our installation and testing our ideas so we could evaluate them as a group. There was some productive disagreement and we deferred decisions until after the afternoon keynote. Jan Boelen, director of Z33 and curator of this year’s Istanbul Design Biennial, gave a presentation about his many spheres of work and the significance of “social design.” The talk led to an interesting Q&A session about the role of students as “symbolic labor” testing societal experiments and the need for a universal basic income. We also discussed the nature of education as an arbitrary bureaucratic framework that can be accepted or ignored. The conversation came back to the notion of “freespace” and whether schools are actually “free.” Jan then critiqued our installation and prompted a spontaneous building session using the blocks around the pavilion. We spent the evening editing our video and finished the day with fireworks at Redentore.
15th July Sunday
We gathered for final conclusions and submit all the works we have produced to the driver. We also worked on the rendering of the film in order to be able to screen it with a proper resolution.