1 September 2016
A swimming pool with an area of 60 m² but only 30 cm deep, called simply The Pool: this is the unusual project proposed by the Australian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture, open until November 27. It is the pretext—or rather, a magnifying lens—for an exploration of the identity of a country whose ancient indigenous origins have been overlaid with a Western culture that has today become a melting pot: the pool is in fact the symbol of a land in which water plays an essential role, whether stored in public or private facilities or collected in the form of a natural basin. So the installation starts out from the waterholes vital to the Aboriginal peoples who live in the desert areas of the outback: spiritual spaces, ancestral repositories of collective memory, permanent or sometimes temporary and fragile resources. But there are also artificial pools, confined by edges, dikes and bottoms: constructions that in the Western world are used both for recreation and sport and for the ornamentation of gardens. The exhibition—presented by the Australian Institute of Architects—is curated by Aileen Sage Architects (a practice founded by Amelia Sage Holliday and Isabelle Aileen Toland), together with Michelle Tabet, a city planner of French origin settled in Sydney. In parallel, an interesting book has been published that assembles the reflections of eight well-known Australian figures: the Olympic swimming champions Ian Thorpe and Shane Gould, the paleontologist Tim Flannery, the fashion designers of Romance Was Born, the writers Anna Funder and Christos Tsiolkas, the rock musician Paul Kelly and the Aboriginal art curator Hetti Perkins. Eight different stories that underline the significance and the impact of the pool in Australian society: sometimes a means of survival in an unforgiving land, at others a way of exercising control over the environment, here a place to get in contact with nature, there a socially democratic location and opportunity to overcome racial and cultural divisions.
Curated by Aileen Sage Architects
Australian Pavilion, 15th International Exhibition of Architecture, Venice Biennale
May 28-November 27