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Romanian Pavilion-Fundamentals-Biennale di Venezia-Interview on Arhitectura Magazine 2014, Bucharest, Romania

PUBLISHED INTERVIEW

on

Arhitectura Magazine, issue no.3 (651), “Collective Dwellings“, Bucharest 2014


reporter, Biennale di Venezia © Alexandru Crisan 2014

EXPLORING IDENTITY_THE NOMAD ARCHIVES

[Interview, Venezia 2014]

Exploring Identity_the nomad archives
Romania/2, la Biennale di Venezia 2014

interview Alexandru Crișan vs. Emil Ivănescu

Alexandru Crișan: În numărul 6(642)/2012 al Revistei Arhitectura in cadrul interviului PlayMincu te-am intrebat daca ai repeta experienta participand la urmatoarea sesiune a Bienalei de Arhitectura de la Venezia din 2014 si… anul acesta ai participat la realizarea pavilionului Romaniei localizat in spatiul Galeriei Institutului Roman de la Venezia, la Palazzo Correr, in Campo Santa Fosca, din Cannaregio 2214. Cum raspunde proiectul propus de tine temei Bienalei, Fundamentals (Elements of Architecture) lansata anul acesta de Rem Koolhaas?

Emil Ivănescu: PlayMincu, pavilionul de acum doi ani, a prefigurat tema de anul acesta a Bienalei. Atunci am propus o suma de arhive, unele interactive, prin care am dorit sa exprimam un anumit lucru. Pavilionul de acum doi ani a pornit de la istorie si de la interpretarea ei. Citind invitatia curatoriala a lui Koolhaas de a oferi o optica a contemporaneitatii printr-o cercetare de arhiva si aparent istorica, nu m-am putut abtine sa nu continui demersul inceput acum doi ani. Si astfel am participat din nou la concurs, insa la pavilionul mic, cel de la ICR.
Ne-a placut tema propusa de arhitectul olandez si ne a placut exact dimensiunea istorica si de cercetare pe care a dat-o. I-am inteles demersul si am incercat sa ne inscriem in el. El pune accent nu pe modernism, ci pe modernisme, cum fiecare tara implicata a trait perioada si cum merge mai departe. In acest sens, am tratat modernismul si modernitatea romaneasca ca pe un fenomen identitar aparte in peisajul general, dar intr-o anumita masura, comun in contextul tarilor est-europene.

Alexandru Crișan: Absorbing Modernity trateaza aspecte diferentiate ale unui concept complex deoarece evidentiaza aspectele definitorii care au produs schimbari majore in evolutia fenomenului arhitectural in ultima suta de ani raportata unei identitati nationale. Proiectul propus de tine, Exploring Identity- the nomad archives, trateaza un aspect aparte al modernitatii romanesti incadrat temporal intre 1914-2014. Iti propun sa detaliezi subiectul temei propuse de tine, exploring identity, respectiv conceptul pavilionului.

Emil Ivănescu: Expozitia Exploring aduce o premiera absoluta pentru Romania, fiind prima oara cand tara noastra participa cu o instalatie in spatiul public al Venetiei. De fapt pavilionul ICR, debuteaza cu doua instalatii denumite generic arhive nomade. Aceste arhive au doua semnificatii. Una directa si pragmatica, reprezentand prima galerie de arhitectura din Romania destinata spatiului public. Ea prefigureaza Muzeul de Arhitectura, care ar trebui sa se infiinteze la un moment dat. A doua, metaforica, simbolizeaza arhivele personale ale unui arhitect nomad contemporan, care, calatorind prin lume cu profesia sa, isi creeaza si isi poarta cu sine aceste arhive, actionand in functie de ele. E o memorie pe care fiecare din nou o strangem, o depozitam si ne influenteaza constant, fie ca lucram in tara natala, fie in alta parte de lume (si asta e un fenomen sensibil de care curatorii Bienalei erau interesati).
Expozitia noastra este 100% o cercetare de arhitectura care pleaca de la o ciocnire a discursurilor: unul oficial despre identitate si arhitectura si altul, denumit de noi, trans-arhitectura, care pune intre paranteze, suspenda sau transgreseaza identitatea oficial-nationala creeata prin arhitectura. Aceasta ciocnire este observata pe tot parcursul celor 100 de ani, expunand un fenomen interesant petrecut cu arhitectura moderna romaneasca: pe masura ce devine din ce in ce mai sincrona cu modernitatea occidentala, absorbtia acesteia fiind mai profunda, tot ea isi creeaza un fel de antidot, prin care adopta influentele din lumea rural-agrar-ortodoxa, ca fenomen transgresiv al unei identitati oficial-globale. Iar cand aceasta influenta interioara devine norma de stat, masura a unei identitati nationaliste prin arhitectura, apar absorbtii transgresive ale unei noi identitati care recableaza cu modernitatea. Am incercat sa facem o analiza a acestei pendulari constante a arhitecturii romanesti intre modernitate si traditionalism, pendulare care si astazi, in ciuda unei abordari mai abstracte si mai de substanta, are loc.
Am plecat de la un fapt real, doua personalitati culturale non-ahitecturale, caracteristice Romaniei moderne: Nicolae Iorga, traditionalistul dar si umanistul om de cultura si politic, care a initiat Pavilionul Romaniei de la Venetia, un adevarat dusman al modernismului, si Tristan Tzara, initiatorul miscarii DADA, ca exponent al culturii romanesti in exil. Am descoperit la cei doi un anumit lucru interesant: casa lui Iorga de la Valeni, o locuinta traditionala veche Romaneasca, domestic-urbana si casa lui Tzara, la Paris, realizata de Adolf Loos. Parintele avangardismului traia intr –o casa realizata de un maestru al modernitatii, interiorul aceleasi case apare decorat cu elemente si motive folcloric- traditionale romanesti. Aceasta ambivalenta si acest contrast cultural dar si identitar l- am folosit ca punct de plecare pentru studiul arhitectural, caci acelasi paradox si contrast apare si in arhitectura romaneasca pe tot parcursul secolului XX, pana astazi.

Alexandru Crișan: Pavilionul propus de tine este un experiment undeva poate intre expozitie (proiect) si instalatie, deoarece expune imagini care creioneaza o poveste legata de modernitate dar in acelasi timp prezinta zone de interes in care privitorul poate interactiona. Pare un mecanism… un mecanism complex in care imaginile se combina cu textele completand aspecte importante in cadrul firului narativ. Legat de neuro-architecture, ce ai urmarit prin acest experiment si care este rezultatul aplicat la nivelul publicului neavizat?

Emil Ivănescu: Exploring Identity este in primul rand o carte si in al doilea rand o instalatie care prezinta cercetarea din acea carte. Mereu utilizez interactivitatea in aceste situatii, fiindca implicand vizitatorul prin propriul lui corp, il stimulezi si devine mult mai receptiv la mesajul pe care il transmiti. Din aceasta cauza am realizat, in premiera, expozitia in doua locuri: Piata Santa Fosca si galeria ICR. Ambele se adreseaza omului simplu, diferit de publicul mai cultivat, specific Bienalei. Asta a fost si pariul si ceea ce m a atras la galeria ICR: este situat in fluxul cotidian al Venetiei. Mi am dorit sa povestesc despre modernismul romanesc acestor oameni, care in mod natural, alcatuiesc opinia publica majoritara.
Subiectul legat de neuro-arhitectura este unul mai amplu. Simplificand, pot spune ca incercam sa facem din aceste instalatii-arhive nomade un dispozitiv de sondare corporala a spatiului public. Acesta e un proiect mai vechi al nostru si incercam sa-l finalizam acum. Ca un epilog ironic al constantei atitudini traditional-moderne a arhitecturii romanesti, invitam vizitatorul sa faca un experiment de neuro-arhitectura: exista un sistem de casti si soft EMOTIV, care iti pot determina reactia afectiva a corpului la diferiti stimuli (imagini) prin sondarea unor centrii de pe creer. Un soft specializat preia si traduce descarcarile electrice inregistrate de senzorii castii plasati in zone anume de pe cutia craniana. Experimentul denumit de noi: ”How much of your brain is modernism and how much is traditionalism” invita vizitatorii ca la sfarsitul interactionarii cu arhivele nomade, sa-si puna acele casti si, supusi pentru scurt timp la un calup de imagini cu diferite tipuri de arhitectura (modernism, neoromanesc) sa poata avea o reactie a corpului (creerului). Ne-am zis, ca, daca problema aceasta identitara modern versus rural-traditional, este atat de intim legat de noi, doar un astfel de sistem poate sa prezinte vizual fenomenul insusi.

Alexandru Crișan: Proiectul propus de tine este realizat in echipa, o echipa a carei componenta este diferita de cea de acum 2 ani cu PlayMincu. Care este componenta echipei cu care ai lucrat la acest proiect si cum s-a desfasurat medierea intre mai multi arhitecti? Au fost viziuni diferite legate de proiect sau de forma in care acesta se prezinta in momentul de fata la Venezia?

Emil Ivănescu: In mod paradoxal nu au fost divergente majore legate de acest proiect, fiindca toti membrii echipei au avut acelasi sentiment si aproximativ acelasi gand. Medierea intre colegi arhitecti este mereu grea, dar fiecare a avut rolul sau si contributia sa, de aceea, proiectul final reprezinta un raspuns ce a venit din mai multe parti. Membrii acestei echipe, cu o singura exceptie, nu au fost prezenti si acum doi ani. As vrea sa le multumesc lui: Olivia Zahalca, Carmen Tanase, Laura Iosub, Loredana Mihali, Marius Danciu si Eliza Culea.

Alexandru Crișan: multumesc pentru raspunsuri.
Exploring Identity, localizat in spatiul Galeriei Institutului Roman de la Venezia, reuseste sa evidentieze distinct aspecte punctuale de interes ce au influentat istoria arhitecturii romanesti in perioada anilor 1914-2014. Experimentul propus reuseste sa ofere un raspuns coerent temei propuse de Koolhaas in cadrul Bienalei. Proiectului de cercetare initiat se evidentiaza prin diversitatea elementelor propuse devenind un pol de atractie in zona atat pentru publicul neavizat, atras in principal de zonele de interactiune la nivelul strazii, cat si cel de specialitate care are de acesta data posibilitatea de a aprofunda un traseu (vizual) coerent al factorilor care au contribuit la evolutia fenomenului arhitectural in Romania.

Exploring Identity_the nomad archives
Romania / 2 at the Biennale di Venezia 2014

interview Alexandru Crişan vs. Emil Ivănescu

Alexandru Crişan: In the number 6 (642) / 2012 of the Architecture Magazine in the PlayMincu interview I asked you if you would repeat the experience attending the next session of the Venezia Architectural Biennial in 2014 and … this year you participated in the pavilion Romania located in the Venice Roman Gallery Gallery at the Palazzo Correr in Campo Santa Fosca, Cannaregio 2214. How does the project proposed by you to the Biennial Fundamentals (Elements of Architecture) launched this year by Rem Koolhaas?

Emil Ivănescu: PlayMincu, the pavilion of two years ago, prefigured this year’s theme of the Biennial. Then I proposed a sum of archives, some interactive, which we wanted to express a certain thing. The pavilion two years ago started from history and its interpretation. Reading Koolhaas’ curatorial invitation to offer a contemporary optics through archival and seemingly historical research, I could not help but keep going from two years ago. And so I participated again in the competition, but at the small pavilion, the ICR. We liked the theme proposed by the Dutch architect and we liked the exact historical and research dimension he gave. I understood his approach and tried to join him. He focuses not on modernism, but on modernism, how each country involved lived and how it goes on. In this respect, we treated Romanian modernism and modernity as a unique phenomenon in the general landscape, but to a certain extent, common in the context of Eastern European countries.

Alexandru Crisan: Absorbing Modernity treats different aspects of a complex concept because it highlights the defining aspects that have produced major changes in the evolution of the architectural phenomenon in the last hundred years compared to a national identity. The project proposed by you, Exploring Identity – the nomad archives, treats a particular aspect of Romanian modernity that was temporally included between 1914-2014. I propose you to detail the subject of the theme proposed by you, exploring identity, respectively the concept of the pavilion.

Emil Ivănescu: The Exploring exhibition brings an absolute premiere for Romania, being the first time when our country participates with a facility in the public space of Venice. In fact, the ICR pavilion starts with two generic nomadic archives. These archives have two meanings. A direct and pragmatic one, representing the first Romanian architecture gallery dedicated to the public space. It prefigures the Museum of Architecture, which should be set up at some point. The second, metaphoric, symbolizes the personal archives of a contemporary nomadic architect, who, traveling through the world with his profession, creates and carries these archives with them, acting according to them. It is a memory that we each gather, store and constantly influence, whether we work in our native country or elsewhere (and this is a sensitive phenomenon that the Biennial curators were interested in). Our exhibition is 100% a research of architecture that starts from a collision of speeches: an official one about identity and architecture and another, called by us, trans-architecture, which puts in brackets, suspends or transgresses the official-national identity created by architecture . This clash is observed throughout the 100 years, exposing an interesting phenomenon with modern Romanian architecture: as it becomes more and more synchronous with Western modernity, its absorption being deeper, it also creates a kind of antidote , through which it adopts influences from the rural-agrarian-orthodox world, as a transgressive phenomenon of an official-global identity. And when this inner influence becomes the rule of the state, the measure of a nationalist identity through architecture, transgressive absorption of a new identity that recats with modernity occurs. We have tried to make an analysis of this constant pendulum of Romanian architecture between modernity and traditionalism, which today, despite a more abstract and substantive approach, is taking place. I left a real fact, two non-architectural cultural personalities characteristic of modern Romania: Nicolae Iorga, the traditionalist but also the humanist of culture and politics, who initiated the Venetian Pavilion of Venice, a real enemy of modernism, and Tristan Tzara , the initiator of the DADA movement, as an exponent of the Romanian culture in exile. I found in the two interesting things: the house of Iorga from Valeni, a traditional Romanian house, home-urban and the house of Tzara in Paris, made by Adolf Loos. The father of avant-garde lived in a house made by a master of modernity, the interior of the same house appears decorated with elements and folkloric-traditional Romanian motifs. This ambivalence and this cultural and identity contrast I used as a starting point for the architectural study, because the same paradox and contrast also appears in the Romanian architecture throughout the 20th century until today.

Alexandru Crişan: Your proposed pavilion is an experiment somewhere between exhibition and installation because it exposes images that cherish a story related to modernity but at the same time presents areas of interest in which the viewer can interact. It seems like a mechanism … a complex mechanism in which images combine with texts that complete important aspects within the narrative thread. Linked to neuro-architecture, what did you follow through this experiment and what is the result applied to the unseen audience?

Emil Ivănescu: Exploring Identity is primarily a book, and secondly a research installation from that book. I always use interactivity in these situations because it involves the visitor through his or her own body, stimulate him, and becomes more responsive to the message you send. That’s why we made the exhibition in two places for the first time: Santa Fosca Square and the ICR Gallery. Both address the simple man, different from the more cultivated audience, specific to the Biennial. That was the bet and what attracted me to the ICR Gallery: it is located in the daily flow of Venice. I wanted to tell about Romanian modernism these people, who naturally make up the majority public opinion. Neuro-architecture topic is more extensive. Simplifying, I can say we are trying to make these nomadic archives a body-sounding device for public space. This is our oldest project and we are trying to finish it now. As an ironic epilogue of the traditional-modern constant attitude of Romanian architecture, we invite the visitor to make a neuro-architecture experiment: there is a EMOTIV earphone and soft system that can determine your body’s emotional response to various stimuli (images) by probing of centers on the brain. A specialized software takes over and translates electrical discharges recorded by headphones sensors placed in areas of the cranial box. The experiment we call “How much of your brain is modernism and how much is traditionalism” invites visitors to end up interacting with nomadic archives, put on those earphones, and briefly submit to a bunch of images of different types architecture (modernism, neo-Romanian) can have a reaction of the body (the brain). We have been told that if this modern-to-rural-traditional problem is so intimately linked to us, only such a system can visualize the phenomenon itself.

Alexandru Crişan: The project you are proposing is done in team, a team whose component is different from the one 2 years ago with PlayMincu. What is the component of the team with whom you worked on this project and how did the mediation between several architects take place? Have there been different visions of the project or of the way it is presently at Venezia?

Emil Ivănescu: Paradoxically, there were no major divergences in this project, because all the team members had the same feeling and almost the same thought. Mediation between fellow architects is always heavy, but each has its role and contribution, so the final project is a response coming from several parts. The members of this team, with one exception, were not present two years ago. I would like to thank them: Olivia Zahalca, Carmen Tanase, Laura Iosub, Loredana Mihali, Marius Danciu and Eliza Culea.

Alexandru Crisan: thank you for the answers.
Exploring Identity, located in the space of the Gallery of the Romanian Institute of Venezia, manages to highlight distinct points of interest that influenced the history of Romanian architecture during the years 1914-2014. The proposed experiment manages to provide a coherent response to the theme proposed by Koolhaas at the Biennial. The research project initiated is highlighted by the diversity of the proposed elements becoming a pole of attraction in the area for the unseen audience, attracted mainly by the interaction areas at the street level, as well as the specialized one that has the opportunity to deepen a route visual) coherent factors that contributed to the evolution of the architectural phenomenon in Romania.

reporter, Biennale di Venezia © Alexandru Crisan 2014
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