Australia 2016, 28 May 2016 — 27 Nov 2016
National Participations

Australia 2016

The Pool – Architecture, Culture and Identity in Australia

Giardini della Biennale, Giardini della Biennale, Castello

One of Australia’s greatest cultural symbols – The Pool – will form the foundation of the Australian Exhibition at the La Biennale di Venezia 2016, which will run from May 28 to November 27, 2016.

The exhibition, presented by the Australian Institute of Architects and curated by Aileen Sage Architects (Isabelle Toland and Amelia Holliday) with Michelle Tabet, uses the pool as a lens through which to explore Australian cultural identity.

The Australian Pavilion will be transformed through the use of light, scent, sound, reflection and perspective to create a series of perceptual illusions within a designed landscape. The exhibition will engage visitors through an immersive experience that will transport them poolside and evoke the pools of Australia in all their forms, be they natural or manmade, inland or coastal, temporary or permanent.

Eight prominent cultural leaders from various fields have been selected to share their personal stories, using the device of the pool as a platform to explore the relationship between architecture and Australian cultural identity. These include Olympic swimmers Ian Thorpe and Shane Gould, environmentalist Tim Flannery, fashion designers Romance was Born, authors Christos Tsiolkas and Anna Funder, Indigenous art curator Hetti Perkins and musician Paul Kelly.

Each narrative touches on a different scale the scale of the body to the scale of the continent and together all reveal the myriad meanings and impacts of the pool on Australian society; as a means to enable survival in an unforgiving landscape, to tame our environment, to provide spaces that facilitate direct contact with nature, to create democratic social spaces, but also spaces for healing racial and cultural division.

Through the description of events, experiences, histories or memories, the narratives presented collectively describe a powerful relationship between place and society, intrinsic to this year’s La Biennale di Venezia theme Reporting from the Front.

‘Recognisably Australian, The Pool is joyful, celebratory and accessible. It is also a setting for the sharing of stories, tales of personal and collective struggle, of community building and transformation and refusal of the status quo.’

‘The Pool as an architectural device delimitates a social edge and a personal edge. It is this metaphorical and literal edge condition that we want to explore and share with the audience at Venice. The pool represents a condition of surplus and of scarcity in the same form, which makes it very interesting. ’ the Creative Directors said.

The aim of the Australian Exhibition is to step outside the architect-to-architect discourse to show how a familiar, common object, the pool, is in fact pregnant with cultural significance, it is both artefact and catalyst of change. The Pool is about public space as a vital component to society and shows the many ways in which its public character is interpreted and occupied.

The 2016 La Biennale di Venezia sees the inaugural architecture exhibition in the new Australian Pavilion designed by Denton Corker Marshall, which opened in May 2015. The new pavilion is the first to be built within the Giardini in the 21st century.

Contacts & Details
tue, wed, thu, fri, sat, sun 10:00 am – 6:00 pm


Giardini della Biennale, Giardini della Biennale, Castello
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