The Swamp School: Lithuanian Pavilion at the Venice International Architecture Biennale
May 26–November 25, 2018
As part of Freespace, the 16th Venice International Architecture Biennale, Lithuania presents its first individual pavilion titled The Swamp School, curated by Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas, commissioned by Pippo Ciorra, presented by the Lithuanian Council for Culture and produced by the Architecture Fund.
In a time marked by radical instability and threats of total war and environmental collapse, the Pavilion illuminates the vital urgency of human cohabitation with other forms of life. The swamp gives an opportunity to test the idea of “sympoiesis”—making and becoming together in order to find a new ethos of coexistence, a direction that stems from the act of recognising the poetical power of the ecologies surrounding us.
Through a series of experiments with hybridity, it interrogates the entangled systems of “nature” and plays with the notion of human and nonhuman agency stretched between historical strata and possible scenarios of the future. Our technological engagement, based on the fluxes of information, may find inspiration from the swamp’s organizational structure—a viable system to meet the demands of survival in a changing environment. Merging the pioneering botanical study of the Aukštumala swamp in Lithuania (1902) with the bio-computing visions of British cybernetician Stafford Beer (1962), the Pavilion embraces a swamp as an evocative form of primordial technology. The swamp is conceived as a perfect milieu to learn, understand, and resist with other species, forces, and ecosystems that have been silenced and downgraded by anthropocentric hegemony.
Inaugurating the concept of marshes as a tool to conceive ‘immaterial materiality,’ The Swamp School will consist of three chapters. The Swamp Radio will be followed by Futurity Island which will concentrate on symbio-poetics and emphasize the new forms of living as well as associated technologies necessary as we move into a future shaped by drastic environmental change. The last series of events, will engage notion of Commonism, focusing on the speculative forms of citizenship and cohabitation between people, and also between humans and non-human residents. Echoing the spatially dislocated sensations of pirate radio or the international abyss just outside of passport control, The Swamp School will take advantage of participants’ jet lagged sensorium to impress a pedagogical experience of fermentation, deep time, olfaction, fecundity, filtration, and, among other concepts, the future.
With support from: MIT School of Architecture and Planning, MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT), MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST), The Nordic Culture Fund, OCA Office for Contemporary Art Norway, Urbonas Studio, UAB Durpeta
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Full press release, with contributor list, can be found here via e-flux.
Map of exhibits from the MIT Community at the Venice Biennale.