Venice Biennale 2012

“Public space is more important than any individual building, which we often take for granted”, stated by Norman Foster on his encyclopedic video installation in the gateway of the 13th Venice Biennale 2012. The mysterious black box of knowledge in response to the theme ‘Common Ground’ has successfully carried out an impression of escorting all the masterminds behind the civilization in a common platform. Norman Foster designed the gateway to the arsenale which is one of the very first spaces experienced by the public at the biennale.

Courtesy of Nico Saieh - Venice Biennale 2012

Courtesy of Nico Saieh

Mr. Foster interprets a common ground in two ways. First of all, knowledge is the only common subject to bring people from different disciplinary practices in the same podium. Another one is space which is commonly defined as public space which brings us socially together. This deep philosophy of wisdom was articulated into words through the projection of the names behind it. In the gateway names of architects, planners, engineers, landscape architects and critics who worked to build the human history, flashes a criss-cross pattern on the floor like a moving mosaic and swirl within the circular column interfaces. The fascinating video installation was done by Finland-based artist Charles Sandison with the help of Carlos Carcas, one of the directors of 2010 film ‘How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?’

Courtesy of Nico Saieh

Courtesy of Nico Saieh

Sandison wandered around the empty forests of Finland for years where he learned about the colonial behavior of ants. Later, he went to Singapore and was fascinated by the peaceful coexistence of different languages, norms, nationalities and systems. Motivated by the experience, he designed the flowing texts as the computer runs genetic algorithms based on ant behaviour. Writing systems of major language groups are involved here in creating a more sophisticated outlook.

Courtesy of Nico Saieh

Courtesy of Nico Saieh

Mr. Foster depicted another form of common ground through the images of cities, parks, stadiums and public activities, solicited from a global network of architects, planners, photographers, critics, writers, and artists. Space comes to live by its inhabitants and the space between buildings is much more important than the building itself. The buildings are occupied by a specific group of people but the public arena accommodates many- from street beggars to millionaires. These still pictures have been combined to make film sequences by the Ivorypress Team lead by Elena Ochoa Foster, with Antonio Sanz as a production designer and in collaboration with Carlos Carcas as a photomontage editor.

Courtesy of Nico Saieh

Courtesy of Nico Saieh

Picture range from Arab spring to London riots or Italian piazzas to Indian Jama mosque which clearly show the spaces that resonate social changes. A summation of common space that incorporates all the historical heroes to civilian people in a virtual reality at the gateway, which Norman Foster believes will elevate the level of awareness not only within the architects but also people from all professions.

Project Information:

Curator: Norman Foster
Location: Venice, Italy
Project Year: 2012
Concept & Design: Norman Foster with Ivorypress team
Production: Elena Ochoa Foster and Antonio Sanz (Ivorypress), Katy Harris and Matthew Foreman (Foster + Partners)
Film Director & Editor: Carlos Carcas
Art Installation: Charles Sandison
Artists: Norman Foster, Andreas Gursky, Ben Johnson, John Nye, Marisa Gonzalez
Sponsors: The Norman Foster Foundation and Ivorypress

Leave a Reply