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Darzanà: Two Arsenals, One Vessel. Turkey at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale

4 years ago

The Pavilion of Turkey at the 15th Venice International Architecture Biennale will feature the project Darzanà.

Curated by Feride Çiçekoğlu,Mehmet Kütükçüoğlu and Ertuğ Uçar, with curatorial collaborators Cemal Emden and Namık Erkal, the exhibition team of Darzanà consists of Hüner Aldemir, Caner Bilgin, Hande Ciğerli, Gökçen Erkılıç, Nazlı Tümerdem and Yiğit Yalgın.

Darzanà refers to the common origin of the words “tersane” in Turkish, and “arsenale” in Italian, both meaning naval shipyard. Beyond its shared etymological origin in “Lingua Franca,” the word also denotes the architecture of the maritime world—that of the port cities and the naval architecture of ships—forming a bridge or a “vessel” between different building cultures of the Mediterranean. On the waterfronts of the Middle Sea there is an intermediary architectural history that can be referred to as an “Architectura Franca.”
More tangibly, Darzanà aims to display a part of the Mediterranean “Architectura Franca” formed of various encounters between the arsenals of Istanbul and Venice from the past to the present. The Ottoman imperial arsenal on the Golden Horn, partly in diminishing use, partly evacuated and deteriorating, is one of many “frontiers” in present day Istanbul, not only because it is on the waterfront, but also because it has the potential of becoming a battlefront between different urban actors. Venice and Istanbul, the twin harbors of the past with comparable populations and similar architectural heritage, have drifted apart, one to become a well-preserved museum city coping with problems of outgoing migration and the other into a pulsating mega-city suffering from continuous incoming migration. Is it possible to initiate an architectural dialogue between the two? How can the two arsenals reflect their historic experiences to the wider debates on architectural fronts?

A vessel, perhaps the last to be built in a deserted and desolate “volti” (shipshed) of Istanbul arsenal, will be cut in to pieces, to travel to Venice and then to be re-mounted in Sale d’Armi, in a volti of similar proportions. This vessel will carry the memories of a common heritage, initiating an encounter and possibly transforming the frontiers of the past and present into thresholds and zones of negotiation for projections of future.

Elena Scarpa

  • Venice Arsenal, venue of the Venice Biennale Venice Arsenal, venue of the Venice Biennale