May 23, 2014

'Treasures in Disguise' | Montenegro Pavilion @Venice Architecture Biennale 2014

Another pavilion I look forward to!

Montenegro will present four late-modernist buildings at this year's Venice Architecture Biennale. Unfinished, neglected (in use and maintenance), and uncanny (curatorial description) - they stand as testament to a failed modernism, monumentalism and subsequent breakdown of Yugoslavia. Regarded to be Treasures in Disguise, today they can (very well) start a conversation, even hint at a direction for a possible 'urban regeneration' in the Balkan region.

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Nobody seems to be able to recognize their value, hence their fate seems sealed: decay and demolition.

But how can something that was born out of a collective optimism lose its promise in such a short period of time? Is the demise of these buildings really due to an intrinsic lack of quality, or have we been unable to treat them with enough empathy to awaken a dormant potential that might be hidden underneath the patina of our own ideological disenchantment with modernism?

The curators of this pavilion believe it is the latter. These buildings represent a cultural resource that is too precious to destroy; if given a second chance, they will surprise us with their unique spatial, programmatic, and social potential. The aim of the exhibition is therefore to help the audience, through architectural representations of the interiors and exteriors of the four buildings, discover the uncanny beauty of structures that, while they look like ruins today, are nothing but treasures in disguise. (curatorial text via)
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