Gunshots in the Lagoon
Director Biennale Art/Architecture Year Zero, 1976
4th September 2010, 2:00 p.m.
Guest Speakers: Marco Biraghi, Germano Celant, Franco Raggi, Joseph Rykwert
The 1976 Biennale di Venezia was a totally renovated Biennale following the events of 1968, renovated in many ways, both conceptual and organizational. Within the context of this renewal, the focus of the investigation into the condition of the visual arts opened up to new disciplinary identities, with which to build an understanding and discussion. In 1975, when I was asked to organize the new Visual Arts Biennale, I set two conditions. The first was that there be a unitary theme, which was the relationship between art and the anthropogeographic environment, the second was that the Biennale extend its interest to architecture.
I invited Franco Raggi to collaborate in the project, and on the basis of these premises, he worked to make the participations of the various nations converge on the theme of art-environment, and appointed Germano Celant to develop the general theme for the Italian Pavilion. A special exhibition, «Le Macchine Celibi» (The Bachelor Machines), was imagined by Harald Szeeman, while Pontus Hulten, who was responsible for the Beaubourg in Paris at the time, led the International Scientific Committee. The Committee accepted the idea of a Biennale that proposed a debate on the theme of "art-environment", which in those years was at the center of interest of the visual arts, a theme that was promoted from a critical, unitary and deliberately partial point of view (without in any case neglecting to provide information on the most recent international aspects that were deemed interesting and gathered in a specific exhibition entitled «Attualità Internazionale», ordered by Olle Granath with exhibition design by Ettore Sottsass).
The new sector dedicated to architecture was developed in various venues with a positive involvement of the entire city. After an initial event based on the Venetian theme of new ideas for the use of the Mulino Stucky on the Giudecca island, and an event on the relationship between film and the city, in 1976 an exhibition was organized with the title «Europa-America», dedicated primarily to the issues that the modernist tradition had left to the generation following that of the Masters. Twenty-seven of the most important architects of my generation participated in the exhibition, which was followed by a conference on the state of architectural culture. The event was accompanied by an exhibition on the origin and development of particular characteristics of Rationalism in Italian architecture between the two World Wars, and an exhibition on the origin of industrial design starting with the Werkbund (1907), with three other exhibitions on various disciplines: «Five international Graphic Designers», «Man Ray photographer» and «Ettore Sottsass designer». A significant part of the Padiglione Italia was dedicated to an exhibition-commemoration of the Spanish Pavilion at the 1937 Expo in Paris (which contained works by Picasso, Mirò, Calder and others), an unequaled example of the extraordinary, intense collaboration between great artists and architects in the name of the political significance of the battle against Falangism. To conclude, the 1976 Biennale proposed a general debate between the tradition of modernity as the foundation for the new, future and different Architecture Biennale.
In the seminar in September, we intend to go back on the motivations behind that experience (Vittorio Gregotti, Franco Raggi) and to compare it, thirty years later, with the current condition of architectural culture (Marco Biraghi), with the accounts of Joseph Rykwert and Germano Celant, who were two protagonists of that Biennale.