Sunday, June 9, 2019

Storming of Venice

"Anonymous" people visiting "Famous" pavilions [*]
Photomontage: Nacym Baghli, 2018
Source/Photos: Instagram
Storming of Venice
(time to?)
We aim to bring the light to both anonymous architecture and architects. To this end, we have initiated a process of reflection and action.
The idea is simple and coherent at the same time: instead of having "famous" pavilions visited by anonymous people, we will (for once) have anonymous pavilions visited by "famous" people.
For this purpose, we will use the repressed spaces of Venice: the floating cemetery of San Michele, the mainland of Mestre and the sequenced beaches of the Lido. (sketch below)
To better understand the whole reflection process (still ongoing), please take a look on the texts below, including a letter we wrote more than a year ago to Paolo Baratta on this subject.
We obviously invite everyone to take part of this "temporary and ephemeral" Storming of Venice for the next biennales (and triennales), it is time to!
Our objective also, in the same vein as this one, is to obtain (finally) a first participation of our country Algeria in the Venice architecture Biennale. Project already attempted in the past by some actors and personal initiatives (including us), but in vain. It's time for that too!
N&S Baghli

Learning from Denise
Philadelphia, June 28th, 2019
Signed book - Philadelphia, Oct. 30th, 2014
Robert Venturi & Denise Scott Brown
Photo: Nacym Baghli
Dear Nacym and Sihem,

Thank you so much for your message.
Your comments about the inclusion of “anonymous architecture” and the ordinary fits with our own ideas of the vernacular.
You are taking the underdog’s side against “starified and (over)mediatized architecture” but I think the fight for the ordinary is a worthy cause.
I salute your effort and the extraordinary work you are doing for your country and Venice.


Denise Scott Brown

Read our tribute to Denise here >>

Dear all,
Hope you are doing well.
We wanted to share this important issue with you.
We want to bring Anonymous Architecture (and thereby Anonymous Architects) to the biennale in a kind of a temporary/ephemeral ‘Storming of Venice’.
No matter in 2020, 2022, or 20xx.
We believe this is crucial for the survival of architecture as a whole, critical, consistent and coherent.
We hope you would join us into the AA collective to contribute to this project and vision in the way that seems most appropriate to you.
As a reminder, AA - Anonymous Architecture - constitutes 99,99% of the global built (and unbuilt) heritage, and therefore, 99,99% of Architects remain Anonymous.
They will never have any visibility, their architecture neither. Never ever.
It is time to give them the floor, and the ‘image’.

For this, we recently sent a letter to Mr. Paolo Baratta, the president of La Biennale di Venezia, to explain our approach and deep concern vis-à-vis the turn that are taking biennales and triennales of architecture nowadays.
Please read it below (in both langages: english and french)
(the letter is now public since June 9th, 2019)

More information to come.
Please let us know if you had any question or suggestion regarding this.
All the best,
Nacym & Sihem Baghli
AA Collective [Algiers]
May 29th, 2018

[*] Location: Swiss Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia
FREESPACE: 16th International Architecture Exhibition 
United Colors (Minds) of Venice
On Critical Architecture today...
La Pensée Unique ?


"Storming of Venice" Project
Sketch: Nacym Baghli, 2019
Text in the introduction (above)
Letter from a COUPLE
to Mr. Paolo Baratta
President of La Biennale di Venezia
Algiers - May 27th, 2018

Dear Paolo Baratta,

We are (re)writing to you today to share with you an innovative approach that we are planning for the next architectural biennale in Venice, in 20xx.
It reflects many of our current concerns, including the invisibility and silence surrounding ordinary, invisible, architecture, which we refer to here as anonymous architecture.
This is a major concern for us, both intellectually and formally.

Indeed, this anonymous architecture, which represents 99.99% of our built environment, our cities and our countryside, and yet serves as the backdrop and foundation for barely 0.01% of visible architecture, must in our opinion finally be revealed, with dignity, to the public at large.
It is nothing more than a "takeover" of the media space that we consider legitimate and necessary, albeit temporary, for the one that has always carried and wrapped in a case the starified and (over)mediatized architecture that we all know.
In the current trends where we fortunately see the emergence of movements in the wake of gender equality such as Me too, We too, and Voices of women,... to name but a few; it seems important and timely to us today that a movement of the kind of AA (for Anonymous Architecture) is emerging soon, inexorably.
Anonymous architecture, very real, is carried by these men and women whose names and faces are unknown, but who, however, actively contribute to the construction of tomorrow's architectural heritage.
They constitute the very matrix of it.
We must pay tribute to them.

So, we asked ourselves, what better opportunity than the Venice Biennale to serve as a megaphone and a critical and intelligent receiver/receptacle for this project?
We remain convinced that such an event will set a precedent in the profession and in the discipline, both in terms of content and form.
This will generate a strong interest for the media, the general public, academics and professionals. A new angle of view will be proposed to them.
The benefits will, in our opinion, be so significant that we expect a paradigm shift at the end of this process.

We would be, (we are!), quite willing to take up this immense and noble challenge for 20xx, after your agreement, of course, and with your precious support.
Be careful, this exceptional edition (a special edition biennial?) will not be about putting names and faces on a distinction or prize.
It will be a question of highlighting, for once, the common sense (apparent or hidden) of a collective, the modest and resonant imagination of a group, the common and sober creativity of a neighbourhood, the daily initiatives of a local community, the ordinary madness of a city, or, quite simply, the consecration of banality in this anonymous architecture, the very one that represents and embodies the 99.99% (built or not), and which is carried by the silent majority of women and men, both architects and anonymous.
Our ambition is to restore the image of the banal, the ordinary, of this anonymous architecture so that it no longer carries this heavy burden, this negative connotation with a pejorative impact.
The emergence and highlighting of anonymous architecture seems to us to be crucial, even fundamental.

Precisely and in this regard, after the exceptional and masterly "Fundamentals", AA will now set the tone (donner le La) for young critical minds and future generations of architects insofar as it will stimulate a new and unprecedented reflection and approach in our relationship to everyday architecture. De facto, another report, this time dispassionate and demystified, will reveal itself in the face of mediatized architecture. Balance.

We, a collective of architects of various nationalities, representing all continents, filled with this humanist and universalist spirit, want to finally give voice (and image) to these thousands of anonymous architects who contribute, throughout the world, each in their own way and culture, to the construction of the cities and countryside of today and tomorrow.

Mister President of La Biennale di Venezia,
We would be extremely pleased and honoured to meet with you to further share with you our project and vision for this temporary and ephemeral "takeover" on your biennial, with your good consent, of course.

A reversal (of the situation) and a critical, peaceful and much needed questioning of Architecture. This is our ambition.

Yours sincerely,

Nacym & Sihem Baghli

The Golden Lion awarded to Anonymous Architects
Biennale Architettura 20xx
Photomontage: Nacym Baghli, 2018
à Mr Paolo Baratta
Président de La Biennale di Venezia
Alger - 27 mai 2018

Cher Paolo Baratta,

Nous vous (ré)écrivons aujourd’hui afin de vous faire part d’une démarche inédite que nous imaginons pour la prochaine biennale d’architecture à Venise, en 20xx.
Elle traduit plusieurs de nos préoccupations actuelles, dont notamment celle relative à l’invisibilité et au silence pesant entourant l’architecture ordinaire, invisible, que nous appelons ici architecture anonyme.
C’est une préoccupation majeure pour nous, tant intellectuelle que formelle.

En effet, cette architecture anonyme qui représente 99,99 % de notre cadre bâti, de nos villes et de nos campagnes, et qui sert pourtant de trame de fond et d’assise pour à peine 0,01 % de l’architecture visible ; elle se doit à notre avis d’être enfin révélée, dignement, au grand jour et au grand public.
Il ne s’agit, ni plus ni moins que d’une « prise de pouvoir » de l’espace médiatique que nous considérons légitime et nécessaire, certes temporaire, pour celle qui a porté depuis toujours et enveloppé dans un écrin l’architecture starifiée et (sur)médiatisée que nous connaissons tous.
Dans les tendances et courants actuels où l’on voit heureusement émerger des mouvements dans le sillage du combat pour l'Égalité des sexes tels que : "Me too", "We too", et "Voices Of Women" (la voix des femmes),… pour ne citer que ceux-là ; il nous semble important et opportun aujourd’hui qu’un mouvement de la sorte, tel que AA (pour Architecture Anonyme) voie incessamment le jour, inexorablement.
L'architecture anonyme, bien réelle, est portée par ces femmes et ces hommes dont on ne connait ni les noms, ni les visages, mais qui, pourtant, contribuent activement à la construction du patrimoine architectural de demain. Ils en constituent la matrice même.
Nous nous devons de leur rendre hommage.

Alors, nous nous sommes demandés, quelle plus belle occasion que la biennale de Venise pour servir de porte-voix et de récipient/réceptacle critique et intelligent à ce projet ?!
Nous restons convaincus qu’un tel événement constituera un précédent dans la profession et dans la discipline, tant par le fond que par la forme.
Cela suscitera un intérêt certain pour les médias, le grand public, les académiques et les professionnels. Un nouvel angle de vue leur sera proposé.
Les retombées seront, à notre avis, tellement importantes que nous escomptons bien un changement de paradigme au terme de ce processus.

Nous serions, (nous sommes !), tout à fait disposés à relever cet immense et noble défi pour 20xx, après votre accord, bien sûr, et avec votre précieux soutien.
Attention, il ne s’agira pas dans cette exceptionnelle édition (une biennale Hors-Série ?) de mettre des noms et des visages sur une distinction ou un prix.
Il s’agira bien de mettre en avant, une fois n’est pas coutume, le bon sens (apparent ou caché) d’un collectif, l’imaginaire modeste et résonné d’un groupe, la créativité commune et sobre d’un quartier, les initiatives quotidiennes d’une collectivité locale, la folie ordinaire d'une ville, ou, tout simplement, la consécration de la banalité dans cette architecture anonyme, celle-là même qui représente et incarne les 99,99 % (construite ou pas), et qui est portée par la majorité silencieuse de femmes et d'hommes, architectes et anonymes à la fois.
Nous ambitionnons bien à travers notre démarche de redorer le blason du banal, de l’ordinaire, de cette architecture anonyme afin qu’elle ne porte plus ce lourd fardeau, cette connotation négative à portée péjorative.
L’émergence et la mise en lumière de l’Architecture Anonyme nous semble capitale, voire fondamentale.

Justement et à ce propos, après l’exceptionnel et magistral « Fundamentals », AA donnera désormais le « La » pour les jeunes esprits critiques et futures générations d’architectes dans la mesure où elle suscitera une nouvelle réflexion et approche, inédites, dans notre rapport à l’architecture de tous les jours. De facto, un autre rapport, dépassionné et démystifié cette fois-ci, se révélera face à l’architecture médiatisée. L’équilibre.

Nous, collectif d’architectes de diverses nationalités, représentant tous les continents, emplis de cet esprit humaniste et universaliste, voulons donner enfin la parole (et l’image) à ces milliers d’architectes anonymes qui contribuent, de par le monde, chacun à sa façon et dans sa culture, à la construction des villes et campagnes d'aujourd’hui et de demain.

Monsieur le Président de La Biennale di Venezia,
Nous serions extrêmement ravis et honorés de vous rencontrer afin de vous faire davantage part de notre projet et de notre vision quant à cette « prise de pouvoir » temporaire et éphémère sur votre biennale, avec votre bon consentement, bien entendu.

Un renversement (de situation) et une remise en question critique, pacifique et ô combien nécessaire pour l’Architecture. Telle est notre ambition.

Bien à vous,

Nacym & Sihem Baghli

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