The Russian Federation Pavilion launches the reconstruction of both its architectural and institutional structures across the physical and digital realms. Through an architectural renovation of the pavilion building, research into the social role of video games and digital environments, and the publication of the essay series Voices (Towards Other Institutions), Open will search for possible answers to the question posed by the curator of the 17th Architectural Biennale Hashim Sarkis: How Will We Live Together?
What was meant to be a physical space for encounters was transformed into a virtual platform for exchange between artists, architects, and thinkers. It will build further on foundations prepared through Open?, and extend beyond the traditional timeframe of the 17th Exhibition with an online program that has started in May 2020 and will continue throughout the next editions of the Biennale with the digital pavilion – pavilionrus.com – connecting to audiences beyond the perimeter of Giardini.
Pavilion renovation by KASA Architects and architectural intervention, the Russian Federation pavilion building opened to the public in 1914, and has functioned as a home for Russian culture at the Art and Architecture Exhibitions of La Biennale di Venezia ever since. A large portion of the pavilion spaces will be empty to showcase the renovation itself, along with a series of drawings by KASA that illustrate the ambitions and intentions of the preservation
To celebrate the renewed pavilion, the design collective Electric Red will reflect on the notion of collective belonging by developing an interactive flag which will be installed in the renovated space. The flag functions both as a spatial expedient to highlight the architectural renovation and as a symbol for the institutional renewal, interpreted as a multifaceted character with a physical, digital and social body. It will grow incrementally throughout the course of the Biennale Architettura 2021, based on users’ interactions.
Game Station and Into the Sandbox
A gamer station will be installed on the ground floor of the pavilion. It will stage and reflect on digital gaming environments and their social meaning, specifically within the context of Russia — one of the world’s largest markets for video games. Games offer the possibility of imagining other types of futures through digital environments and world-building, potentially acting as a testing ground for institution-making. Visitors will be able to play three Russian video games.
Conversations and live streams on the topic of games, gamification and digital space will stream on screens at the gamer station and also feature on pavilionrus.com, which will act as the digital counterpart of the physical pavilion. Contributing video games are Sanatorium Anthropocene Retreat, chapter II (2021) by Mikahil Maximov and commissioned by the Russian pavilion, It’s Winter (2020) by Ilia Mazo and Yuha’s Nightmares (2021) by Yulia Kozhemyako (aka Supr).
The three games are accompanied by seven theoretical contributions that reflect on the Russian gaming scene as well as more speculative insights into digital gaming environments from an architectural, philosophical, and social standpoint. Contributors: Alice Bucknell, Federico Campagna, Emanuele Coccia, Cat Goodfellow, Daria Kalugina, Alina Nazmeeva, Alexander Vetushinsky.
Deepening the core theme of digital gaming environments, a digital take-over program invites gaming experts, developers, scholars, cultural practitioners and universities including the Strelka Institute Moscow to contribute to the Russian pavilion. The take-overs will have a variety of formats, including performative lectures, panel conversations, Let’s Play events and Twitch-takeovers, and will be live-streamed inside the pavilion as well as on pavilionrus.com.
The film program Into the Sandbox curated by Vladimir Nadein examines the intersection of cinematography, game engines, digital environments and processes of gamification. It will feature nine movies curated in the following three chapters: God Mode, AFK (Away From Keyboard) and Instance Dungeons. Contributors: Alice Bucknell, Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis, Antoine Chapon, Dina Karaman, Lawrence Lek, Benjamin Nuel, Total Refusal, Keiken & George Jasper Stone.
Voices (Towards Other Institutions) is a collection of contributions and perspectives into new ways of thinking and building institutions. It gathers twenty-eight texts released weekly between May 2020 and May 2021 on pavilionrus.com commissioned from an interdisciplinary cohort of practitioners and thinkers, from Russia and beyond. Voices will be published by Lenz Press and designed by Lorenzo Mason Studio. The publication will be available at the pavilion. Source and photos Courtesy of Send / Receive.