At the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, taking place from May 26 to November 25, 2018, Latvia will be represented by a team of curators with the concept «Together and Apart. 100 Years of Living», which won the competition held by the Latvian Ministry of Culture. Highlighting ideological turning points of the last one hundred years, the exposition will depict how architectural projects and processes of apartment blocks have embodied different ideas about living together and building a nation.
The curatorial team includes architect and urbanist Evelīna Ozola, architect Matīss Groskaufmanis, scenographer Anda Skrējāne and Director of the New Theatre Institute of Latvia Gundega Laiviņa. The exhibition will be produced by the New Theatre Institute of Latvia — an organisation with a deep interest in contemporary art, society, interaction of spaces for living and the urban environment, and an extensive experience in producing the Latvian national and student exhibitions at Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space.
Latvian pavilion «Together and Apart. 100 Years of Living» will focus on apartment buildings as an architectural category that simultaneously offers life together and apart — even though the apartment makes it possible to separate from the outside world, it is always part of a common structure. Almost two thirds of Latvian residents live in apartment buildings, the second highest ratio in Europe, however, both the experiments in the architecture of residential buildings and wider discussions about the environment in which the modern Latvian society lives, have largely disappeared from the architectural discourse.
«Our intention is to raise the issue of how to live together in today’s increasingly complex society and how the architecture of apartment buildings can provide it. In the exhibition, we want to highlight the parts of the apartment building that cannot be reduced to a private sphere and an individual apartment — staircases, balconies, courtyards, partition walls and other fragments, which in the architectural theory and contemporary periodicals most often remain in the second plan of analysis, but clearly demonstrate the current ideals of the society and influence the forming of common values,» explains Matīss Groskaufmanis, co–author of the concept.
The curators of the Biennale are Irish architects Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of «Grafton architects», who have received the Silver Lion from the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012. The theme they have defined for the 2018 Biennale is Freespace, which encourages architects to «go beyond the visual, emphasizing the role of architecture in the choreography of daily life.» The theme calls for examples that show how architecture, even within the most private or commercially restricted conditions, can offer qualities that benefit everyone.
The Venice Biennale of Architecture is the world’s largest and most prestigious architectural exhibition held every two years. Latvia has participated in the Biennale since 2002, and in 2018 will be the eighth exhibition for our country. In 2016, the jointly–designed Baltic Pavilion represented Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.