Baracco+Wright Architects and artist Linda Tegg, the curators of the Australian Pavilion, delve deep below the man-made Freespaces of their continent-wide nation, and by doing so they rediscover an extremely rare indigenous ecosystem. Since the 18th century, 99 per cent of the extension of South-Eastern Australian grasslands has been replaced by cultivated and urbanized lands; the remaining 1 per cent survives as a fragile tiers paysage, constrained on street sides or within abandoned lots.
For a few months, a delicate fragment of it will be kept safe inside the Venetian pavilion. Grasslands Repair is the title of an installation whose journey starts in the austral hemisphere, where its ground plots come from, continues inside Ligurian greenhouses, where its lush vegetation was grown, and gets to Venice in the form of a pixelated grassland, looked after by a team of silent and gentle gardeners.
As a piece of purely wild nature, and yet paradoxically cultivated, structured and set up by human intervention, Grasslands Repair aims at acting as an hymn to the relation between architecture and its environment. It calls upon the duty of each project to take care of its context, to literally “repair” the wounded earth where it stands. A keen observer might notice how its waving shape reconstructs the flattened top of the artificial hill where the pavilion was built, as well as how the latter provides for its vegetal content through the electric sun of Skylight, a ceiling installation of re-adapted industrial led lights.
Grasslands Repair is undoubtedly bewildering for its bareness, and it might take a while to decode its links to the site and the building, but it certainly finds an ideal and poetic counterpart in the Ground videos (by the curators with David Fox). Every ten minutes, the pavilion suddenly plunges into darkness and a huge real-scale projection opens up one of its corners onto Australian natural and architectural landscapes. Their moving images effectively convey the possible outcomes of “repair”, which has nothing to do with the utopic return to a paradisiac past, but instead projects itself towards the future. In the curators’ words, “repair (…) is not defined as restoring to an original or pre-existing condition, but rather to a ‘good’ one”.
- Exhibition title:
- Grasslands Repair
- Opening dates:
- 26 May – 25 November 2018
- Baracco+Wright Architects, Linda Tegg
- Australian Pavilion, Giardini