By Switzerland - Biennale Architettura 2016
Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia
Curator Sandra Oehy and architect Christian Kerez
Swiss architect Christian Kerez, born 1962 in Maracaibo (Venezuela), is responsible for the Swiss Pavilion exhibition at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Kerez studied at ETH Zurich and has been teaching there as Professor of Architecture and Design since 2009. Recently, Christian Kerez received international praise for his proposal for a commercial tower building in Zhengzhou, China, and a largescale social housing development project in Brazil. In Switzerland he has made a name for himself with the construction of a new school in Leutschenbach. Kerez’s designs also becomes apparent in his «house with one wall», a two-family home in Zurich-Witikon formed from a single slab of concrete.
Kerez seeks to enable a new spatial experience that can only be brought about by architecture. Within the design process, he combines fundamental considerations with the question of how a specific architectural concept can make a worthwhile contribution to the everyday.
The «Incidental Space» exhibition by Christian Kerez at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia is curated by art historian Sandra Oehy. Together with the general commissioners Alex Lehnerer and Savvas Ciriacidis, she curated the German contribution «Bungalow Germania» for the 14th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, in 2014. From 2010 to 2013, she was Co-Director of Van Horbourg, an artspace for contemporary art in Basel and in Zurich, and also worked as an independent curator. Oehy has realised group and solo exhibitions with artists including Armin Linke, William Forsythe, Simon Denny, Stan Douglas, HR Giger, Rico Scagliola/Michael Meier, Bas Princen, Pennacchio Argentato and Quinn Latimer. She studied History of Art, Political Science and Sociology at the University of Zurich. Since 2014, she has been a member of the cantonal art purchasing committee in the canton of Zug.
Swiss Pavilion 2016
Christian Kerez’s «Incidental Space» attempts to explore the outer limits of what can be achieved in architecture today. How can you use the medium of architecture to contemplate an architectural space that is entirely abstract and as complex as possible? How could this kind of imaginary space even be visualized, and how could it be produced? The goal of this project was not to create a built space using any specific construction method, design method, or spatial program. Instead, with the help of an abstract architectural objective, it aimed to produce an «atomized» space, a small space with maximum possible complexity and with infinite interior extension – a space whose visual character cannot be something easily decoded, that doesn’t depict or represent any other space, that defies univocality and withdraws from any unambiguous legibility. In short, Christian Kerez sought to create a space that in no way corresponds to what architecture has hitherto considered to be architectural space.
Incidental Space, detail from inside
Wall paper with the renderings of the 'Incidental Space', Swiss Pavilion
An assignment formulated in this way demands a design process far removed from the intentionality of artistic sovereignty. Thus, an «incidental» gypsum cast is interpreted as a spatial model to fill the Sala di Pittura of the Swiss Pavilion in Venice. Through the coupling and sequencing of craftsmanship and digital processes, utilizing various technical translation assistants, a detail-rich architectonic space appears, which reveals the greatest complexity possible. Besides this physically built architectonic space being the inducement for this endeavor, the space created exists simultaneously in various conditions of aggregation of a cloud of data, all of which are of equal value and reciprocally and in conjunction constitute «Incidental Space» as a project. In the exhibition in the Swiss Pavilion this is revealed through a monumental wallpaper in the Sala di Scultura displaying renderings of the digital scan – which are not mere illustrations but the building plans for the space – and corresponding photographic details of the physical model as wallpapers – scaled 1:1 to the built space. Since the space is highly complex in visual terms, decoding it presents a challenge to the viewer: thanks to the sheer multiplicity of possible readings, in its material presence a moment of resistance is produced, stimulating reflection.
Incidental Space, detail from inside
Detail of the Scan of 'Incidental Space'
Visitors of the Swiss Pavilion
Swiss Federal Councillor Alain Berset and architect Christian Kerez at the opening of the Swiss Pavilion
Opening statement by Christian Kerez
Opening speaches at the Swiss Pavilion 2016
Marianne Burki, Head of Visual Arts, Kaspar E.A. Wenger from Holcim and Lino Guzzela from the ETH Zurich during the VIP reception
Visitors at the preview Event of the the exhibtion 'Incidental Space'
Federal Councillor Alain Berset talking to a young visitor
Opening of the Swiss Pavilion 2016
Rachele Giudici (right), Project coordinator for the Swiss Biennale contributions
Sandi Paucic, Project Leader Swiss participation Venice Biennale
Christian Kerez and Alain Berset inside the 'Incidental Space'
Andrew Holland, Director of Pro Helvetia with Käthy Riklin, member of the Swiss National Council
VIP-Event at the Swiss Pavilion
Christian Kerez at the Swiss Pavilion, 2016
Swiss Arts Council Pro Helevetia