Blog der Professur Philip Ursprung

Mai 28


Biennale Urbana1

An exercise in rethinking Venice Biennal starting from abandoned spaces.
A Stalker Walking School proposal for ETH Zürich Professur für Kunst- und Architekturgeschichte
Dr. Philip Ursprung Institut für Geschichte und Theorie der Architektur in the frame of the
Swiss Pavilion ‚the School of the Tomorrow‘ programm,
14th International Architecture Exhibition, Venezia 2014, 8-15 June 2014, in collaboration with
Osservatorio Nomade/Laguna, Comitato Teatro Marinoni Bene Comune, Associazione Poveglia


Grand Tour. Learning from Italy.
This summer school wants to open up the discussion on the Biennale 2016, as a possible Urban Biennale, using the Lucius Burckhardt 1984 project for Documenta in Kassel.
An Urban Biennale that becomes part of the process of reuse and reinvention of the enormous patrimony of abandoned spaces in the lagoon of Venice. „Actual Territories“, as Stalker called in 1995 those places of forgotten memories, marginal presents and spontaneous possible futures. Simultaneous, decontextualized, instantaneous, exclusive events, seems to characterize the contemporary production of space, while in the Actual Territories, often forgotten, forbidden, refused and exploited spaces, through contextual, relational and processual practices, new creative communities are spontaneously experimenting strategies of coexistence, in search of more sustainable forms of culture, economy and democracy. Those collaborative, social and artistic, practices are indicating possible strategies to re-enact those spaces, re-creating a possible „Common sphere“ aside of the decline of the public sphere and the blind privatization, or better explotation, of any resource, practice and space on earth on going today.
The Biennale, the most important Contemporary institution in Venice and the „Actual Territories“ could mirror one in the other, become reciprocal resources, text and context of a process of going back to imagine a future for Venice, beyond its contemporary cliché.
The summer school will start with two Stalker’s exploration of the sites of interest:
The Biennale, on sunday, and, on monday, the abandoned spaces of the Lido and the little abandoned island of Poveglia, just put on sale by the state. The Lido, „leisureland“ of the venetian archipelago, site of the Cinema Festival, is today disseminated by abandoned buildings and sites that have to be re-imagined. Five one-day seminars, will follow the Lido and the biennale explorations. Those seminars will focus the possibility to rethink the Biennale institution and its possible role in the re enacti by discussing the following problematic:

1. Its organization in national pavilions.
2. Its organization in disciplinary art fields (visual arts, architecture, dance, theatre, cinema).
3. Its relationship with national and international educational paths that take place in Venice.
4. Its relationship with citizens organizations and innovative social practices and the practicability of living in Venice.
5. Its relationship with the urban space and the reuse of the enormous amount of abandoned spaces in the lagoon of Venice.



Charged by the amazing walks through the abandoned spaces of the Lido/Poveglia and motivated by the many inputs of activist, artists, philosophers and alike, the question remained: How is a Summer School from Switzerland supposed to contribute to the complexity of Venice in less than a week? What to do with all this information which is invested in us? And how can this lead into a Biennale Urbana? And last, but not least we ask in the spirit of Lucius Burkhardt: Does a Biennale Urbana even make things better or is it best to keep the subversive hidden?
It became clear that our main advantage was our perspective as outsiders. To be able to see and make visible the net of correlations and premonition of scenarios that are – or could become. And what better way to convey this message than through the touristic medium of the postcard! And so more than 100 different postcards were produced, some depicting present stories, some referencing the past and some introducing future scenarios. The postcards are then presented in the Swiss Pavilion and various Social Media platforms and will hopefully spread new ideas and insights throughout the community of Venice.

Process documentation through Social Media by the amazing WHOAMI can be viewed on facebook and our website.

Thank you ON/Laguna, Guido Iannuzzi, Martin Josephy, Peter T. Lang, Lieven de Cauter,  Anna Detheridge, Marco Favaro, Michael Obrist, Christian Costa, Suad Amiry and Pelin Tan for the beautiful inputs that guided us though out the week!