POST-Venice: The Latvian and Nordic Pavilions
June 4, 2015

We explore new architectural forms in two site-specific installations, next up in our essential Venice selection

Latvian Pavilion

A haphazardly constructed series of cramped wooden workshops make up the Latvian Pavilion. After the swooping grandeur and cavernous, high-ceilinged spaces typical of many other pavilions in the Biennale, this dimly lit, kaleidoscopic complex of buildings immediately stands out. ‘Armpit’ is an installation by Katrina Neiburga and Andris Eglitis, inspired by a closed community of ‘garage elves’, who spend their leisure time tinkering in home workshops built in 1970s and 80s Soviet Latvia.

Chunky computer monitors are placed throughout the space, showing video stories of these hobbyist engineers and mechanics. Upstairs, a series of large-scale screens are installed on a sawed, chopped and nailed-together rotating platform, whirring and clicking around each viewer. The promise of new technology is here integrated with the physicality of the personal, vernacular architecture that houses it, screens nestled within roughly cut wood and exposed electrical circuits. Together, they are at once archaic and escapist, rooted in a distinct historical past whilst looking firmly to an ever-shifting future; mechanics become alchemy, and the screen a portal to disrupted materiality.

 

The promise of new technology is here integrated with the physicality of the personal, vernacular architecture that houses it.

 

The Nordic Pavilion

The architecture of the Nordic Pavilion is immediately striking, all cast concrete beams and a riot of natural light. Designed by Norwegian architect Sverre Fehn in 1962, the entire building is cast in a mixture of white cement, sand and crushed marble, adding to the intensity of the light inside. Fehn’s design comes to the fore this year, fully animated in tandem with Camille Norment’s site-specific, multi-sensory installation.

Titled ‘Rapture’, a series of performances and sound pieces explore the disruptive potential of sound in sensory experience. In particular, the relationship between the body and music is questioned, redefining our own sense of self through the construction of her sonic environment.

 

The pavilions are on show until 22nd November 2015, as part of the 56th Venice Biennale

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