2019 – Completed
‘May You Live In Interesting Times’
Delvendahl Martin Architects have worked with curator Ralph Rugoff to design the main exhibition at the Venice Art Biennale 2019. The show is split into two distinct parts, Proposition A in the Arsenale Corderie and Proposition B in the Giardini’s Central Pavilion. Both buildings showcase the same group of 79 artists, who have used this opportunity to respond in different ways to the two locations and their specific conditions. This split underscores thematic breadth and draws attention to the multiplicity of artistic practice.
The first site of exhibition is in the Arsenale Corderie. The repurposed rope-making factory for the Venetian navy is characterised by its strong industrial spaces and large brick columns that run along the full length of the building. The exhibition design responds to the existing material texture and character of the building, introducing a series of free-standing plywood interventions that articulate the visitors’ journey while revealing the historic architecture of the venue. A locally sourced plywood takes reference from the great shipbuilding legacy of Venice’s Arsenale and considers the temporary nature of an exhibition, offering a versatile and recyclable construction. Structures are deployed in varying heights to work with the curated artworks and installations—a punctuated rhythmic flow of spaces, with an experience of the artworks specific to the Venice Biennale setting. Curator Ralph Rugoff describes this engaging quality of spatial sequences as a “symphony of different scales.”
The second site is the Central Pavilion, which features white plastered walls and predominantly day-lit spaces with large skylights. The 16th International Architecture Biennale in 2018 revealed layers in the existing building previously concealed by decades of alterations. Maintaining this approach, the exhibition design keeps alterations of the building fabric to a minimum and uses a series of free-standing white structures to support the artwork and guide the visitor. The concept of duality and open-endedness is achieved by opening a previously unused access route into the building to offer the visitor two ways of entering and experiencing the exhibition.