Pidgin Perfect in Venice: A Play in Three Acts
Critical Dialogues: Scotland + Venice 2012
13th Venice Architecture Biennale
Do Architecture, GRAS Studio, Stone Opera and Pidgin Perfect took part in the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012.
Supported by the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland and the British Council, the Scottish delegation in 2012 showcased some of the cutting edge ideas and innovative approaches to architecture practice that have emerged in recent years in Scotland.
Organised under an umbrella project titled 'Critical Dialogues', directed by Jonathan Charley, as a week long series of events within the public realm.
Pidgin Perfect’s presence in Venice for the 13th Architecture Biennale took the structure of three temporary acts of community engagement: Tour Della Biennale followed by Banchetto and finally Esposizione.
The theme of the 2012 Biennale set by the Director David Chipperfield was ‘Common Ground’. In response to this Pidgin Perfect’s aim was to engage with the people and communities living in the midst of the two main locations of the international architectural festival, the Giardini and the Arsenale, where local residents quite literally share ‘common ground’ with the World’s architectural elite.
We wanted to find out what the people living in between all the hype and furore felt: What do these communities think about the Biennale and how does it impact on their lives? And if we could manage to engage with these local communities and bring them together with the architectural world then surely this could act as a positive example for everywhere?
Act I: Tour Della Biennale, Tuesday 4th September
Tour Della Biennale was a guided tour organised by Pidgin Perfect around the Biennale Pavilions of the Giardini and led by Alice Covatta a PhD student from IUAV. The tour was designed to gather impressions and reactions to the Architecture Biennale from a small select group of individuals from the Castello Alto & Basso communities who would not normally venture into this setting.
The group’s enthusiasm for the installations, the noisy banter amongst and their informal way of interacting within the formal setting of the Giardini institution was incredibly revealing as to the relationship between the Biennale and the local community.
Act II: Banchetto, Wednesday 5th September
Banchetto was designed as a theatrical open air dinner and discussion to be held in Castello Alto, one of the few remaining tight knit communities in Venice, in a quiet square of the neighbourhood known locally as Camporetto. Members of the communities of Castello Alto & Basso, individuals from wider society in Venice and representatives from Art and Architecture Biennale were all present.
Banchetto was a real collective effort with locals from the neighbourhood making the traditional home cooked Venetian cuisine, neighbours granted us permission to suspend the theatrical curtains from their washing line, Venetian students helped to set the tables and we were joined by those individuals who had been on the tour the day before bringing their friends along with them.
As night fell, with the setting prepared and everyone in place, Banchetto became an enchanting evening of stories, speeches, and renditions of old, almost forgotten, Venetian songs, led by local hero Michele Gervasuti.
More people came than expected so for those who didn’t have a place at the dinner table, they gathered round the buffet table and extra chairs where laid out whilst other neighbours watched and listened from their balconies or came out and sat on their door step.
In the end the success of the event was down to the collective enthusiasm and energy of everyone involved, together we enjoyed a special night that will live long in the memory.
Act III: Esposizione, Saturday 8th September
The third and final act was the temporary exhibition held at the Ludoteca Santa Maria Ausiliatrice, on the Via Garibaldi.
This event, collectively titled ‘Critical Dialogues’, showcased the projects from all four emerging practices representing Scotland at the Biennale, DO Architecture, GRAS, Stone Opera, and ourselves.
The night was the first opportunity to present back to the community the wonderful photographs and audio of the two previous acts as well as the process of designing and organising the events.
Scotland & Venice, Pidgin Perfect, images courtesy of Gilmar Ribeiro