Venice Biennale 2008

Venice Biennale art, design and architecture
(Image credit: press)

What with the much-discussed convergence of art, design and architecture, it came as no surprise that many an architect at this year’s Biennale was hopping on the art bandwagon.

Venice Biennale

(Image credit: press)

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The Arsenale in particular hosted large gallery style pieces of varying degrees of success; Swiss architect Philippe Rahm’s installation ‘Digestible Gulf Stream’, which involved the creation of a micro climate through the phenomenon of convection created by hot and cold air systems in which naked people played saws and guitars was mock rather than shock, while the Evening Line, a collaboration between American hipsters Aranda/Lasch and artist Matthew Ritchie made a beautifully delicate organic form which is rumoured to be locating, post Biennale, to the garden of its patron, art maven Francesca von Hapsburg.

She was not the only gallerist with her sights on the architecture world; curators from private galleries everywhere were gliding about wooing architects and threatening to buy up exhibitions for their art spaces, (allegedly it has never happened yet) and all the while the conflict between both disciplines raged on.

‘Architects know much more about how to work with space than artists,’ claimed Doriana Fuksas, who with her husband Massimiliano created an installation consisting of green boxes in which films on domestic life played while von Hapsburg claimed exactly the opposite.

The masters of the art/architecture collaboration, Ai Weiwei and Herzog & de Meuron came together with a large sculptural piece involving bamboo and chairs in the Italian pavilion, and Spanish architect Vicente Guallart went hi-tech with Hyperhabitat - Reprogramming the World a neon installation with more than a nod to The Matrix.

In a nod to large scale art interventions, The Belgian pavilion was wrapped in a galvanized steel shell while, inside was nothing but confetti on the floor. We caught up with the curator, Moritz Küng from deSingel arts campus in Antwerp.

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).