Thom Van Maastrigt
How to map the biennale, without tracing? How to show what it is without making a representation that inevitably falls back into a false narrative, an experience that was not the actual experience and can never be that experience? This video shows the relation between exhibitions: the interval, the transition, the spandrel.
The spandrel is a space where the qualities of the different exhibitions merge. The space that has to exist but was never meant to be. In the spandrel everything intermingles. One can hear sounds of room A and room B. One can see the last bit of room A and see the first of room B.
The transitive space between the rooms represents nothing, rather it is something. The spandrel is hardly designed but very pragmatic. It’s the actualization of the virtuality of the relation between room A and B. In making this transition the spandrel, in opposition to the exhibition itself, does not represent architecture. It IS architecture.
But then what is this spandrel? Where does it begin, where does it stop? It doesn’t. The spandrel is not just the curtain between the rooms, not just the opening in the wall, not just the narrow slightly designed alley from room A to B. The spandrel continues into the room, beyond the room. Until the point where we notice that the whole biennale is a spandrel with only a few points of designed attention.
And when we accept this, we can do away with these last bits of singular representation by introducing memory and expectation instead. For when we draw our attention to a part of the exhibition we are always remembering the previous and expecting the next.
But the spandrel does not only occur between what we used to call room A and B. The spandrel is everywhere. Between exhibition and building, pavilion and greenery, content and context. The spandrel thus connects not only rooms. But also it connects the backstage of the Biennale to the exhibition itself, the exhibition to it’s venue and the Arsenale to the Giardini. From this we could go on and even state that Venice is the spandrel for the entire Biennale, what was first Giardini and Arsenale. Nothing ever exists without relating to something else, thus the Biennale couldn’t exist without the spandrel. The spandrel is what makes the biennale exist.
So the Biennale is not a static narrative, it is constantly being constructed. To stay the same it must always become in order to be. So one sees the Biennale not being either open or closed but the biennale becoming opened and becoming closed. It’s the Biennale in continuous becoming: the greenery swiped clean, the Russian pavilion being opened, the boats being tied and getting loose. The biennale is an enormous effort to represent what was ‘now’. But it can never just be, because it already inspired us before it even opened months ago, and while the ‘now’ of the common ground is tried to be represented, has already learned us so much. Which we will of course start to use before the official closing. And we don’t think they will mind us doing so.