Cumhuriyet tours Venice Biennale 18th International Architecture Exhibition: Africa is the focus of the biennial

Curator Lokko, who is also from Ghana and Scotland, proposes the continent as a kind of laboratory for his future works with a multi-layered perspective, and for this very reason, he puts African studies at the center of the biennial’s main exhibition. Lokko is based on the idea that “the gaps and cracks in the social and material shells of societies and the ground they live in can be defined as spaces for research, speculation and re-imagining”.

As observed in many areas in recent years, there are different opinions regarding the main exhibition, and thus the whole biennial, in terms of its focus and -especially as expressed by architects- in terms of its relationship with architecture. On the other hand, the content, context and exhibition diversity of the country pavilions has the potential to open a space where many conceptual, global and professional issues are discussed. And when we evaluate it from this point of view, the Turkish Pavilion presents an important topic for rethinking and taking action, both locally and globally.


When we look at the country pavilions in general, it is possible to see that natural materials and local solutions are still on the table in the focus of the global climate and natural resource crisis we are in. On the one hand, the pavilions where issues such as waste, energy and water are tried to be discussed politically, especially the Spanish and Dutch pavilions, are remarkable in this context. Located in the Spanish Pavilion and developed by Eduardo Castillo Vinuesa and Manuel Ocaña, the “Foodscapes” project presents a discourse in relation to architecture through food production, distribution chain and consumption at local, regional and global levels. Through 5 short video works and researches in the pavilion, “the past and present of the food system are analyzed together with architecture in order to discuss possible models that can feed the world without swallowing the planet.” In the Dutch Pavilion, curated by Jan Jongert (Superuse Studios), there are financial and regulatory systems that shape society’s relations with each other and with the planet, and this network of systems is presented together with the drawings titled “The Waterworks of Money” by architect Carlijn Kingma. Water in themes and drawings is a metaphor for the need to rethink these systems. The goal presented is “to propose adapting and redesigning existing systems to ensure a more equitable and ecologically resilient future.”


In the focus of the Turkish Pavilion, there is a proposition to rethink on transforming the existing. Organized under the coordination of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), the Turkish Pavilion, co-sponsored by Schüco Turkey and VitrA, is hosting the project titled Ghost Stories: The Sack Theory of Architecture by Sevince Bayrak and Oral Göktaş this year. The project, which proposes to listen to and understand the stories of abandoned buildings instead of demolishing them or leaving them to their fate, takes its inspiration from Elizabeth Fisher’s The Sack Theory of Evolution and Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Sack Theory of Fiction, which adapts this theory to literature.

With an open call to discuss and rethink this issue, which became even more critical after the earthquakes in February, a collective archive has been created by documenting many idle buildings across Turkey. Through this archive and research, as the curators have said, it is important to rethink and get acquainted with our current ways of doing, by looking at the current economic situation, natural conditions, resource scarcity and the damage we are doing to the planet. The pavilion establishes a relationship with this year’s “Laboratory of the Future” theme through this perspective.


In the “Cloud” section, which is one of the two sections in the exhibition, a selection of unused skyscrapers, hotels, schools, hospitals, restaurants and social facilities, which are not used and are familiar to many of the visitors, are exhibited. In the other section, “The Bench”, there are various publications, texts and researches that refer to the fifteen articles of A Manifesto for the Sack Theory of Architecture; There are tables titled Story, Theory, Addiction, Ghosts, Entropy, Expiration, Why Do We Destroy?, Crime Scene Investigation, Concrescere, Repair Shop, Venice Charter – Transformed, Learning from the Present, Test Drive, Transformers, and Pool. There is also an exhibition in the pavilion that includes suggestions on how inactive buildings can be transformed with the help of artificial intelligence technology, which is closely followed by the architectural world.

In addition to all these, the book prepared by curators Sevince Bayrak and Oral Göktaş and designed by Esen Karol, who is also responsible for the graphic design of the project, offers a reading through examples of ghost stories and text and visuals of the manifesto items.

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