Could you tell us about what you are presenting here and at the Arsenale?
My project is called "Your Split Second House" and it is an installation with three water hoses hanging from the ceiling with lots of water coming out, they jump or dance about. They are also illuminated with lamps, strobe lights so it looks as if they are suspended in mid-air.
It is not your first time at the Architecture Biennale... What are your thoughts about this year's theme?
I have shown at the Biennale a few times now and it is particularly exciting this time because I think the Biennale has turned out incredibly beautifully. In particular, I see a certain type of sensitivity or let's say a very tolerant sensitivity which is not just about future, not just about some kind of autonomous idea of aesthetic forms. I think it is much more about showing that aestheticism can also produce content or you could say that content can also be aesthetic. There is something in that which I think goes a bit further than we normally see because, obviously, we talk a lot about people and we talk about the importance of singularity and plurality or collectivity, if you like. Obviously, the Italians have been increasingly good at creating a space, creating a language for spaces. A way of programming space where singularity and plurality become one, where you can be both in a group and yet be a person. Or the fact that you know you are in a group amplifies your personal ideas, or your personal ideas actually amplify your collective sensitivity. This is the type of aestheticism, the type of beauty that I am experiencing here. It is almost a political or socio-political type of aesthetical language and I am quite intrigued by it. I am quite surprised, above all because I didn't see it coming. Sejima-san has produced a number of buildings which have sparkling aesthetical qualities and they are certainly very hospitable and generous in the sense that they produce environments that go beyond traditional architecture but to see it laid out, with other architectural practices and languages, as it is at this Biennale is incredibly liberating because it shows that the unique quality of what I think Sejima is working on actually goes a little more into content-driven thinking because, as she has proven to us, she can translate her values, her beliefs, into general ideas about space, ideas about public space, transformative space or space over time, in history, and so on. So I am very inspired by the quality of this Biennale.
There is often a mix of art and architecture at this Biennale...
Well, in this Biennale, in particular, we are talking about the way people relate to space and, obviously, within art or artistic practices, the relationship between people and space is something that art was working on even before the Renaissance and, suddenly, we are in a field where there is a big overlap between art and architecture. That is why I think it comes as no surprise that Sejima decided to invite, I don't know exactly how many, but around ten artists and I think these artists prove that art has developed a number of tools that are incredibly sophisticated and valuable for architecture. And, of course, there are a number of tools developed by architecture that art can also learn a lot from. So it is not so much that art was working before architecture because I don't think this is the case. Generally speaking, I think there is a kind of coming together, a sharing of tools and sharing of ideas in a more productive way. It is also quite refreshing that it is not about bridging a gap, it is not about blending art and architecture because artworks are artworks and architects are architects. That's how it is and it is quite liberating that there is not some kind of meta-ambition to mix everything together. In that sense, it is actually quite generous.
Did you find it inspiring working in the space of the Arsenale? Was an interesting challenge?
I always think the Corderie, or rather, I always think Venice is just so incredibly exciting and obviously it is such an unbelievable city in so many ways. It also has all the stigma, you know, the problems and all that but I think that somehow goes with it. The Corderie has become an institution, not just the Corderie but also the historical Biennale building. The number of exhibitions I have seen there is countless so when I walk in I don't just see the Corderie and the beautiful bricks and so on. I see the political history that has occurred in that space. So, when I make a work of art for that space I try to make it suit the formal aspects of the space, the height, the width and the number of people and so on. But I particularly think about what type of space it is politically speaking; what type of institution we are working in; what it means to make an expensive presentation or what it means to do as I have now. I have made an installation that is relatively cheap. It is just water being circulated by a simple pump and some garden hoses. For my means, it is kind of low tech and I find that quite exciting, that in a rather grand space you can do something that is low tech.
In Venice, you are presenting also another project...
I have hung some lamps I made with Zumtobel in a former church. It is a lamp I worked on for some years. We are celebrating this because at last the Starbrick has come out. I hope you enjoy it.
What comes after the Biennale?
At the Biennale, there is that incredible São Paulo building by Lina Bo Bardi and it is so funny because my next exhibition is actually in São Paulo and in that very building, so I have been to the Italian Pavilion to look at old drawings and photographs by Lina Bo Bardi. That is my next project. I am working on a big project in Brazil, so I could not be more excited.