WORK, BODY, LEISURE | Constant in Venice
With the title WORK, BODY, LEISURE Het Nieuwe Instituut presents the Dutch contribution the the 16th Architecture Biennale in Venice. The exhibition is curated by architect and researcher Marina Otero Verzier and addresses the spatial configurations, living conditions, and notions of the human body engendered by disruptive changes in labor ethos and conditions. The project seeks to foster new forms of creativity and responsibility within the architectural field in response to emerging technologies of automation (see website).
Uh uh, however, this cerebral explanation does not do justice to the playful installation that is this exhibition WORK, BODY, LEISURE. As a visitor you enter a locker room as found in any swimming pool or gym. Orange lockers with numbers and words like #PLAYGROUND, #DOOR, #FARM #WAITING ROOM, #HARBOR, #OFFICE, #PATENT, #SIMULATION, #BED, #WINDOW or #FACTORY on it invite you, the visitor, to explore the world behind the it. The lockers hold information, images, stories, entrances to the rooms beyond or a peek into these rooms.
A playful determination and my OCD were triggered here. I wanted to open every locker in the room and had to dance around other visitors who were apparently on a similar quest. Every now and then unexpectedly I opened a locker and stared into the face of a visitor on the other side, creating moments of shared banter between strangers.
As Constant's New Babylon provided the starting point for WORK, BODY, LEISURE a copy of the painting Erotic Space, 1971 was shown in the first room #PLAYGROUND behind the lockers (a more elaborate story on how this came to be in our newsletter of May 30th) flanked by a train of thought like essay by Mark Wigley and a video of how the print had been produced by Océ. From there you walk into hotel room 902 #BED of the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel, where John Lennon and Yoko Ono had staged their Bed-in for Peace in from March 25 till 31 in 1969.
Then the route takes you back to the #LOCKER ROOM, where a locker opening frenchy reveals amongst other things works by Madelon Vriesendorp, photo's of Dutch prostitution zones, Red Light district work places, Hugh Hefner working from his bed and several other defining bed situations.
In the far end corner a locker reveals a room #SIMULATION with an istallation by Simone C. Niquille; a huge airmatrass with inflatable human figures in bright colors. I wonder how many kids were tempted as I am to bounce onto the installation. I contain myself and merely lean against it and let myself be bounced back.
From the human-shaped bouncycastle you walk into a #WAITING ROOM #OFFICE type of area which turns out to be a pinterpretation of the Rotterdam Harbour, where the work is completely automated and is monitored on screens showing rithmic patterns of movement. With a few comfortable two seaters the "office" looks like a waiting room. I sit down and through the locker door I spy on people making their way through all the lockers in the locker room.
From the waiting room you enter #FARM where Renderlands, an installlation by Liam Young, shows prints of gaming landscapes and miniature buildings. The installation has a video equivalent called Renderlands as well telling the story of a render farm worker in India who, at night, indulges in his own avatar story made up out of discarded images from the projects he works on during the day.
From here the route leads you back to the lockers room, where the lockers hint to connected projects, like songs Songs for Hard Working People by Noam Toran, Florentijn Boddewijk and Remco de Jong. The next and last room is #DOOR where the installation The Door(s) of No Return: On Technologies of Certain Bodies by Amal Alhaag shows a collage of different media concerning the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
The Dutch pavillion raises several issues, questions and thoughts. Not everything sticks but somehow that's okay. I wish I could go back a few more times and delve a bit deeper into the matter that is offered in the exhibition.
For more information on the exhibition and the contributors, text, video's and other awesome contect be sure to visit the website: WORK, BODY LEISURE or when you are planning to visit, check out the pavillion's website: Dutch Pavillion.