On 26 May, the Russian pavilion at the 15th International Architectural Biennial launched the exhibition V.D.N.H. URBAN PHENOMENON, which represents the Russian Federation at the most prestigious architectural festival on the planet. Chief Architect of Moscow Sergei Kuznetsov was the project's supervisor and CEO of VDNH Ekaterina Pronicheva acted as a co-supervisor. Chancellor of the I.E. Repin Saint-Petersburg State Academic Institute of Art, Sculpture and Architecture Semyon Mikhailovskiy, is commissioner of the Russian Pavilion at the International Architectural Biennial in Venice.
Deputy Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation Aleksandr Zhuravskiy and one of the most authoritative European architecture critics, director of Architecture Forum Aedes in Berlin, member of the jury of the Pritzker Architecture Prize Kristin Feireiss gave a welcoming address at the opening of the exhibition V.D.N.H. URBAN PHENOMENON.
Supervisor of the exhibition, Chief Architect of Moscow Sergei Kuznetsov, emphasised that "today, when cooperation with established territories is now very much at the forefront for architects from all around the world, the experience of VDNH seems especially important to us. This unique ensemble has been preserved – not under a glass case in a museum, but serving as a motherboard for global functional reprogramming. We are presenting this process at the biennial to attract the attention of a broader audience and to raise the question not only about the future of a separate complex, but also about the objectives of the profession of architect in the 21st century". He went on to add that "The VDNH phenomenon is important in a global context. Unlike most theme and entertainment parks, apart from facilitating leisure for the city's population, it also fulfills an educational and cultural mission. The integrity of the urban planning ensemble, the diversity of social spaces and the richness of national and themed pavilions creates a territory which is able to accumulate and multiply the intellectual and cultural energy of society, which will eventually help win the battle for quality of life".
"Throughout its history VDNH has been a place for collecting and demonstrating the best achievements: changing the functional content of the territory, we are keeping its development vector unchanged. Remaining faithful to an idea of natural social evolution, today VDNH chooses content that stimulates the intellectual and emotional engagement of the audience, and also attracts attention to the natural potential of the complex – a healthy alternative to shopping malls and home leisure", remarked CEO of VDNH and co-supervisor of the exposition Ekaterina Pronicheva.
The commissioner of the Russian Pavilion Semyon Mikhailovskiy added: "As commissioner I sought a subject for presentation at the biennial that is associated with the whole country through architecture. We wanted to show something of a grand scale and that is genuinely interesting. VDNH creates opportunities for historical insight, gives us food for thought when it comes to past and future, real and ideal. Everyone who knows VDNH, its history, and its development, understands how effectively we can show it".
The exhibition V.D.N.H. URBAN PHENOMENON tells stories about the past, present, and future of VDNH, the most famous and largest-scale exhibition in the country that has called Moscow its home since 1939. As we know, VDNH is based on the idea of a cultural and leisure park – a public city space, where cultural and educational functions would combine in harmony with functions related to sport and entertainment. In terms of its size (more than 316 acres) and architecture, VDNH cannot be compared to anywhere else in the world, while the thematic content is a clear reflection of the socio-political processes taking place in the country. In Soviet times it was an ideological megaphone, and then a chaotic market. Today this phenomenal complex, created during the time of the Soviet Empire, strives to become a cultural and educational space. Regeneration continues, and the modern-day VDNH finds itself fighting for its audience using urban planning, architecture and educational tools, which means it can be interpreted as a direct response to the theme of "Reporting from the Front", as suggested by the supervisor of the 15th International Architecture Biennial Alejandro Aravena.
The exposition has two levels. The lower one is dedicated to history and showcases separate Soviet era artifacts recreated by a group of young sculptors. The upper level presents a video installation that immerses the visitor into the atmosphere of modern VDNH, a researcher's office, and a laboratory where possible future scenarios are developed in cooperation with architects, students, and the exhibition's visitors.
The Architecture Biennial in Venice is one of the most famous forums of world architecture, an international exhibition held every two years with a highly respected international jury. It defines the key development trends of urban planning and architecture for the coming years, and also reveals the potential of projects that are both in the planning and already implemented.
The theme of the current biennial is defined as Reporting from the Front. However, the word "front" in the supervisor's motto means a border, an edge, a place to fight for quality life. The main prize is traditionally a Golden Lion which is given for the services to architecture and for the best exposition. The most interesting expositions are awarded a special diploma by the jury.
An exposition of the Russian Pavilion was first commended by the jury in 2012 for the project "i-city/i-land", dedicated to "Skolkovo" and Russian science cities. In 2012 the Russian Pavilion featured in top-3 most attended exhibition spaces in Europe.
In this year the exhibition V.D.N.H. URBAN PHENOMENON was organised by Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation with the support of the Moscow Government. Semyon Mikhailovskiy is the commissioner of the Russian Pavilion, Sergei Kuznetsov, the supervisor and Ekaterina Pronicheva, the co-supervisor. They are also the co-authors of the exhibition concept.
The exhibition was designed by Sergei Kuznetsov and Agnia Sterligova. Varvara Gogulya, Ekaterina Mochalina and Pavel Nefedov were responsible for creating content.
The exhibition V.D.N.H. URBAN PHENOMENON presents graphic work by Alexey Rezviy and Marianna Piskunova, a video installation by Tanatos Banionis, sculptures by Georgiy Bragovskiy, Ivan Savenkov, Vadim Bandarets, Kirill Bobylev, Vladimir Brodarskiy, Alexey Glukhov, Evgeniy Gomanov, Aleksander Zhidkov, Sergei and Alexander Knysh, Ilya Korotchenko, Ilya Savenkov, Ivan and Elena Sedovy, Artyom Syulev, Seraphim Chyorniy, and Maria Chigrina. Kristin Feireiss was the consultant on the project and Irina Kuznetsova, the coordinator. Project implementation: VELKO GROUP.
Graphic style was developed by Andrey Shelyutto and Irina Chekmaryova. Layout by Irina Chekmaryova, Alexey Shvabauer and Artemiy Lebedev Studio. Souvenirs were designed by the ABC Design studio. Texts for the exhibition were created by Anna Martovitskaya and Anatoliy Belov. Translation into English: John Nicholson.
Cultural Programme Manager: RDI.Creative.
Educational programme manager: A.A. Vysokovskiy Higher School of Urban Science and the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC).
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