Weengushk Film Institute by Elastico Farm at the Biennale Architettura 2021


Italian architect Stefano Pujatti, principal at Elastico Farm, has recently been commissioned to design a new building in Canada. Elastico Farm and KFA Architects and Planners have been asked to design the new home for the Weengushk Film Institute (WFI), a non-profit, artistfocused film and television-training centre, dedicated to unlocking the creative potential of Indigenous youth, on Manitoulin Island on Lake Huron, Canada.

It’s a project that celebrates the rich aboriginal culture of the place, its traditions and myths, as well as its magnificent natural setting. The project is presented in world premiere at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Elastico Farm, in collaboration with StudioErrante Architetture and Davide Tommaso Ferrando, conceived an iconic installation within the Italian Pavilion, a large 3,5 meter by 1,5 meter metal-mesh model signaled by a tall totemlike element.

The imposing metal structure — a salvaged beam whose wings were partially detached and the core, left free, was then flamecarved, alludes to the soon-to-be iconic edifice for the Weengushk Film Institute and has an strongy materic feel to it A red dress hangs from the structure, a dramatic symbol for many First Nation women who are kidnapped and killed each year in North America. The significance of the turtle. The large model that is placed at the foot of the totem includes a curious object, which vaguely resembles the shape of a turtle.

It’s the metaphorical reference the client held as a pre-requisite for the project. Native American oral histories tell stories of a turtle that holds the world on its back, and Turtle Island is the name used by some indigenous people to indicate North America. The turtle evoked by this terracotta model, whose dark color was obtained by firing it in the absence of oxygen, has a deep symbolic value: it is an icon of life itself, a marker of identity, culture, autonomy and a deeply-held respect for the environment. Source by Elastico Farm photos Courtesy of Cultivar.

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