THE EXPANDED EYE
The image behind the 15th International Architecture Exhibition, curated by Alejandro Aravena, shows a lady who has climbed the ladder; at the top she can gaze out to a far broader horizon, and thereby conquers her “expanded eye”.
We immediately loved this picture. Partly because it represents La Biennale as a whole, with all our attitudes and our goals.
It is also partly a counterpoint to the one chosen for the most recent Art Biennale. The symbol chosen last year by Okwui Enwezor was Paul Klee’s very famous “Angelus Novus” as interpreted by Walter Benjamin; the winged angel looking backwards in shock, seeing the past with all its debris and tragedy, but also with insights which could be useful in the future, towards which the occult forces of providence are driving it like wind blowing on its wings.
What does the lady see? I think mainly desolated land comprising immense swathes of human habitation which no human could be proud of; great disappointments representing a sad, infinite number of missed opportunities for humanity’s ability to act intelligently. Much of this is tragic, much is banal, and it seems to mark the end of architecture. But she also sees signs of creativity and hope, and she sees them in the here-and-now, not in some uncertain aspirational, ideological future.
Is this a sign of optimism?
Several previous Biennale’s Exhibitions have seen us deplore the present, which seemed to be characterised by increasing disconnection between architecture and civil society. Previous Exhibitions have addressed this in different ways. This time, we wish to investigate more explicitly whether and where there are any trends going in the other direction, towards renewal; we are seeking out encouraging messages.