Estonian’s Pavilion for the Venise Biennale connects architecture, ruins and politic

The Estonian Centre of Architecture presents the exhibition Weak Monument in the Pavilion of Estonia at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia (May 26th – November 25th, 2018). Estonian Pavilion’s curators, Laura Linsi, Roland Reemaa and Tadeáš Říha, explore the spectrum between the explicit representation of the monument and the implicit politics of everyday architectures: from the triumphal column to the pavement beneath it, through all that is in between.

Weak Monument behind the wall © Weak Monument, 2018
Weak Monument behind the wall © Weak Monument, 2018

Located at the edge of Via Garibaldi, between the Biennale venues of Giardini and Arsenale, the Pavilion of Estonia – Weak Monument will transform the rooms of the former baroque church of Santa Maria Ausiliatrice (Fondamenta San Gioacchino) which offers remnants of a monumental yet decadent spatial symmetry and hierarchy.

Weak Monument behind the wall © Weak Monument, 2018
Weak Monument behind the wall © Weak Monument, 2018

Weak Monument examines architecture’s capacity to be political, by juxtaposing two antithetical notions – weakness and monumentality. Monuments reside on the margin of the architectural discipline while directly embodying some of its most central qualities, such as relation to the site, delimitation of public space and capacity for representation. Monuments represent power explicitly, but not universally.

Masterplan Weak Monument @ Weak Monument 2018
Masterplan Weak Monument © Weak Monument 2018

In Estonia, the notion of monument appears as a foreign intruder. Its presence is marginal, its tradition nonexistent and its form tormented by an apparent cultural displacement. Underscaled, skewed and displanted, half demolished and neglected, monuments stand in their oblivious surroundings as uncanny souvenirs brought from distant lands. The Estonian cultural specificity has been increasingly accordant with a wider contemporary distrust of the monument as a device of oppressive authority.

Weak Monument section © Weak Monument, 2018
Weak Monument section © Weak Monument, 2018

Weakness is at once a reflection and a proposition. It is full of contradictions, multiplicity and concealed meanings. In other words, everything that the classical concept of monument is not. It introduces strictly non-hierarchical structures, where politics is only implicit. It can be the pavement beneath the monument, the scaffold that allows for climbing the previously unclimbable; it can be the gap made explicit or the ruin that inspires the imagination.

Text from the press release of the curators’ team.

Exhibition: Weak Monument
Location: Former church of Santa Maria Ausiliatrice
Address: Fondamenta San Gioacchino (East edge of Via Garibaldi)
Curators: Laura Linsi, Roland Reemaa, Tadeáš Říha
Commissioner: Raul Järg (Estonian Centre of Architecture)
Production: Eve Arpo, Maria Kristiin Peterson (Estonian Centre of Architecture)
Collaborators: Tom Avermaete, Pavel Bouše, Charlotte Grace, Eik Hermann, Sandra Mälk, Toomas Paaver, Klaus Platzgummer, Margrethe Troensegaard
Main Partners: Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Estonian Ministry of Culture, Estonia’s centenary programme Estonia 100
Sponsor: Ruukki

React to this article