A Fragile CorrespondenceVenice Biennale 2023
Docks Cantieri Cucchini, 20.05 - 26.11
Exhibition made in collaboration with the Architecture Fringe and -ism magazine
One of the Architects' Journal's top picks of the pavilions and installations to see at the Biennale
Highlighting cultures and languages that have a close affinity with the landscapes of Scotland, A Fragile Correspondence explores alternative perspectives and new approaches to the challenges of the worldwide climate emergency.
Taking inspiration from The Laboratory of the Future theme of La Biennale Architettura, curated by Lesley Lokko, writers, artists and architects, in correspondence with landscapes, explore issues distinctly rooted in place but with global relevance to the cultural, ecological and climatic issues that we face.
From the forests around Loch Ness, the seashore of the Orkney archipelago, and the industrialised remnants of the Ravenscraig steelworks, the project takes us on a journey through three Scottish landscapes across the Highlands, Islands and Lowlands.
In Loch Ness with the Highlands as the genesis for modern, romanticised world tourism, the exhibition explores how internationalised capital and commercial extraction affects the biodiversity, cultural identity and environmental sustainability of the land in a local context.
In Orkney the work examines how the local population have for centuries negotiated the forces of nature, in particular the dynamic and powerful sea, as an example of an evolving relationship between people and place anchored in a deep understanding of the natural environment and steeped in community resilience.
At Ravenscraig, the exhibition presents the contemporary landscape, often unseen as a moment between somewhere and nowhere, as a place of authenticity and a resurgent natural landscape.
Through these creative explorations, and by proposing a new lexicon of terms and definitions, the exhibition looks to see the potential in possible futures that sensitively work in correspondence with the land rather than simply upon it.
Situated adjacent to the dock with open views to the canal and city beyond, the exhibition is arranged into four distinct areas with visitors being gently guided through the different landscapes before reaching the reading room and project lexicon.
Each landscape is introduced through chosen words and language with a bespoke research wall of archive and contemporary imagery, printed materials and artefacts. Large-scale monitors display specially commissioned films presenting the landscapes with contributions from the curatorial teams and exhibition participants.
The creative responses to the questions posed by A Fragile Correspondence are displayed throughout the exhibition and include artworks, photography, sculpture, installation work, film, audio and sound. Materials used within the exhibition’s presentation reflect aspects of the various landscapes in focus with timber supporting the work exploring Loch Ness, a palette of natural materials helping to frame Orkney, and an emphasis on metalwork and the reflection of heat contextualising Ravenscraig.
It culminates in the reading room which hosts the project lexicon and a digital touchscreen interface where visitors are invited to interact with the text and resources to contribute their own words and descriptions for place, land and landscapes that are important to them.
Find out more at scotlandandvenice.com
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Discover the lexicon at afragilecorrespondence.org
Neil McGuire, Andy Summers (Architecture Fringe)
Alissar Riachi, Aoife Nolan, Amy McEwan, Kristina Enberg (-ism magazine)
Mia Pinder-Hussein, Carl C.Z. Jonsson, Alyesha Choudhury (/other)
Dr. Amanda Thomson
Dr. Mairi McFadyen
Prof. Donna Heddle
Simon Forsythe (Lateral North)
Ann Louise Kieran (North Lanarkshire Council)
Scotland + Venice partnership
Matthew Arthur Williams (team photo)
Carl C.Z. Jonsson (axonometric visual)