Moving Ecologies: the Chilean Pavilion at the 2023 Venice Biennale
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Moving Ecologies: the Chilean Pavilion at the 2023 Venice Biennale

The South American country is participating in the 18th International Architecture Exhibition with a project that sees a return to roots as planting a seed for tomorrow. “The future is a field”, explain the curators

Moving Ecologies: the Chilean Pavilion at the 2023 Venice Biennale
By Editorial Staff -

“This future is not proposed as a utopia or an Eden. Nor is it expected to be the result of linear progress, development, or evolution. Instead, it will take the shape of a field: one made up of contingencies, experiences, and situations”, says curator Gonzalo Carrasco, architect and professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, explaining the vision that inspired the Chilean Pavilion at the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale. The event, taking place in the Arsenale, is called Moving Ecologies.

Created with Loreto Lyon and Alejandro Beals (proprietors of Beals Lyon Arquitectos) and with artistic direction by Belén Salvatierra, the project takes the form of an installation that exhibits a collection of 250 small spheres, each containing a seed. The seeds are the plant species used by Chilean architects to face the main challenges of the future through the protection and ecological restoration of both cities and natural landscapes.

Ecologie in movimento: il Padiglione del Cile alla 18a Mostra Internazionale di Architettura – La Biennale di Venezia Photography by Belén Salvatierra, courtesy of the author

 

Beginning again from nature

The idea for the Chilean Pavilion came from the title of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition, curated by Leslie Lokko: Laboratory of the Future. “After last year’s constitutional process”, says Carrasco, “I couldn’t imagine the future – not only humanity’s future, but also of the other living beings that inhabit the earth. Then it occurred to me that after Chile gained independence in 1818, the future of the country had to be imagined, beginning with the job of cataloging the native flora, which was performed by Italian botanist Luigi Sada di Carlo”.

Back then, architecture and science made it possible to imagine the environmental future of the country as it entered the modern era by means of an acclimatization garden in Quinta Normal Park in Santiago de Chile. Likewise today, we can start anew from nature to fight ongoing climate change. And Chile is well placed for this, with plants that, over time, have been able to adapt to an arid climate and now, with global warming, can be grown elsewhere in the world.

Ecologie in movimento: il Padiglione del Cile alla 18a Mostra Internazionale di Architettura – La Biennale di Venezia Photography by Belén Salvatierra, courtesy of the author

 

>>> Discover also the Italian Pavilion, Spaziale: Everyone Belongs to Everyone, curated by Fosbury Architecture

 

The future is a field

The Moving Ecologies exhibition focuses on three fields: a Field of Contingencies, a Field of Experiences, and a Field of Situations. The first is represented by a long table that tells the story of 173 years of ecological events in Chile: natural disasters, forest fires, and the damage caused by extractivism. Parallel to this, the section presents 14 landscape projects that use different plant species that can restore highly degraded soils, improve contaminated soils, improve the quality of urban life, and restore ecosystems after natural disasters and man-made fires.

The Field of Experiences features 250 glass spheres that contain the seeds of endemic and native species, preserved at the INIA Intihuasi Plant Seed Bank in Vicuña, encapsulated in resin. Each sphere is on a metal stem, inside of which an LED light illuminates the sphere and its contents.

Finally, the Field of Situations relates to the concept of “situation” introduced in the 18th century by English writer Robert Morris in his Lectures on Architecture and linked to the evocative capacity of architecture and the natural landscape. So, through a recording of soundscapes – buzzing insects, bird calls, flowing water, and so on – collected around the city of Puerto Varas, visitors are shown the process of seed propagation through space.

Ecologie in movimento: il Padiglione del Cile alla 18a Mostra Internazionale di Architettura – La Biennale di Venezia Photography by Belén Salvatierra, courtesy of the author

 

Art, architecture, botany, philosophy

Moving Ecology is a subtle but powerful exhibition that combines art, architecture, botany, and philosophy. Since this year’s Biennale opened, the Chilean Pavilion has been one of the most photographed and admired. The South American country was among the last to confirm its participation in the 18th International Architecture Exhibition, leaving the curators just a few weeks to complete the installation. The result was achieved thanks to extensive research into the subject, which Carrasco has been conducting for some time. His dream is that once the Biennale closes its doors, the exhibition can be presented at the Museo Nacional de Historia Natural inside Quinta Normal Park.

 

>>> Read the preview of the essay “Form Ever Follows Courtesy” (THE PLAN 145), written by Sebastián Irarrázaval

Photography by Belén Salvatierra, courtesy of the author

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