Russia Moves Biennale Pavilion Online

John Hill
12. May 2020
Image: 2050+

The Russian Pavilion for the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale — curated by former OMA partner Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli and titled Open? — is the first to move to a strictly online presence.

Announced on May 8 by the Commissioner of the Russian Federation Pavilion of the Venice Biennale, Teresa Iarocci Mavica, the move online is obviously a response to the postponement of the opening of the Biennale from May to August due to the coronavirus pandemic. The move online allows the many contributors to Open? to continue their work and "not be left without financial means or the opportunity to gain invaluable experience and carry out their artistic concepts," as Laparelli said in a statement.

Mavica also said, "The pandemic has challenged our understanding of the role of cultural institutions and has called for a radical reconsideration of the framework of major cultural events. The focus must shift to what is essential: our responsibility for the local creative professionals invited to participate in the exhibition and the planned work on the Pavilion, both in terms of renovation and programming content."

This news comes a few weeks after the Australian Institute of Architects announced Australia would not be participating in the Biennale, instead "working with [curators Jefa Greenaway and Tristan Wong] to showcase this work in other ways when it is safe to do so."

Russian Pavilion at the Giardini (Drawing: KASA)

Although Russia's participation will be moving online (at pavilionrus.com) it will include a physical component at the Biennale — the renovation Mavica alludes to above. KASA (Kovaleva and Sato Architects) was selected in a competition to set up their temporary office inside the Pavilion, "where they will work on a reconstruction of the building during the Biennale." 

That competition was decided in February, before the lockdown in Italy, the postponement of the Biennale's opening, and Russia's decision to move online; it is moving ahead as planned, with construction planned to start in November and be completed next spring.

Sketch for renovation of Russian Pavilion (Drawing: KASA)

As of now, the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale is scheduled to open on August 29 and run until November 29.

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