The South African pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia will exhibit the works of hundreds of local artists who took part in Cool Capital in 2014.
The work of hundreds of South Africans who participated in Cool Capital, the first uncurated, DIY, guerilla biennale launched by architect Pieter Mathews in 2014, will be displayed at this year’s La Biennale di Venezia.
Founded in 1895, this annual biennale is one of the most prestigious cultural events in the world and has often been likened to the World Cup of Art and Architecture. The exhibit will be open to the public from 28 May to 27 November 2016 in the historic port city of Venice in Italy, with the South African pavilion situated in the Sale d’Armi at the Arsenale, a 13th-century building originally used to build and repair ships.
The theme for this year is “Reporting from the front”. The overall creative director for the 2016 event, the Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, hopes that the exhibitions will explore how architecture can, over and above its apparent artistic and cultural aspects, also address social, political, economic and environmental issues.
Proudly South African art
Leading the Cool Capital design movement in 2014, Mathews has been appointed by the Department of Arts and Culture as curator for the South African Pavilion, giving him the responsibility to select local design and architectural projects that showcase the best of innovation, ingenuity and talent that the country has to offer.
Also involving the University of Pretoria and Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), the pavilion follows a refreshingly unconstrained concept that responds to the theme by exhibiting a large collection of many different Cool Capital participants, rather than only a select few works.
By representing the work of hundreds of innovative participants, the pavilion will provide a world platform to lesser-known South African artists, designers, and most importantly, active citizens. A variety of the documented outcomes as well as the official Cool Capital Catalogue, detailing the successful citizen-driven interventions, will be on display, and the catalogue will form a big part of the pavilion design.
For the first time, the South African Pavilion will feature in the official catalogue distributed by the Biennale Foundation in Venice.
A short documentary film entitled DorpStad will give visitors an idea of the variety of innovative projects that made up the soul of Cool Capital. Numerous original installations will also be traveling from South Africa to give visitors to the pavilion the authentic Cool Capital experience.
Cool Capital demonstrated what can be gained when citizens are provided with an unofficial opportunity to constructively engage with issues they identify in the realm of architecture, art and design. According to Pieter Mathews, the curator, the pavilion becomes a call to citizens of any city to become design activists.
The second Cool Capital will be held during September and October 2016, again encouraging citizens to explore how small interventions can collectively bring about big change under this year’s theme, “Small is big”.
SA Pavilion: www.southafrican2016pavilion.co.za