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Exploring Past Technological Innovations to Inspire the Future: The Romanian Pavilion at the 2023 Venice Biennale

The Romanian Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia will showcase innovative, yet unusual ideas and past technological innovations as a source of inspiration for creating more enjoyable and resilient urban environments. Titled “Now, Here, There”, the project was chosen following a national competition. The curatorial team composed of Emil Ivănescu, Simina Filat, Cătălin Berescu and Anca Păsărin suggests turning to forgotten early 20th century inventions to open up the field of possibilities for future developments. The team also collaborates with a number of specialsits and institutions, including the National Technical Museum in Buchares, who will provide a series of original artefacts to be on display for the duration of the exhibition, from May 20 to November 26, 2023.

Through the design of the exhibition, the curatorial team offers their interpretation of the theme of the biennale, Laboratory of the Future, chosen by curator Lesley Lokko. They invite visitors to contemplate the way in which ideas are conceived inside a laboratory: not in a vacuum, but well informed by previous scientific innovations, dilemmas, and contradictions. The path visitors take through the exhibition thus becomes pedagogical: the search for new ideas stems from an understanding of previous ones. Brainstorming and interdisciplinary collaboration turn this path into a prolific search for new ideas for creating a better future.


NOW HERE THERE – Inside. Image Courtesy of UAR

The first section of the exhibition is “Lost Innovations”, a selection of original artifacts created by Romanian innovators, many of whom have remained largely unknown. One of the exhibits is an original all electric car built in the 1904, still functional today. Other artifacts include the world’s first aerodynamic car with all-wheen drice, built in the 1920s, a device for working in radioactive field, or an affordable social housing construction created a century ago.

The exhibition continues to present a plan of “Lateral Pedagogies”, one hundred case studies of interdisciplinary projects developed by teams of architects, designers, urban planners, sociologists, anthropologists, economists and politicians. The installation presents possible localized solutions to general issues such as social inclusion, urban agriculture, vulnerable communities. The case studies present the potential impact architects and designers can have at a social and even political level, improving the quality of space and also the quality of life.


NOW HERE THERE – 100 Lateral Pedagogies level. Image Courtesy of UAR

At the end of their journey through the Romanian Pavilion, visitors are invited to contribute to the Post-It Installation, an interactive metallic structure containing 500 mobile cards printed with messages from he exhibition’s curatorial discourse. Visitors are invited to take home the cards and replace them with new postcards an which they left a small note, drawing of idea. At the end of each day, the postcard ideas placed in the structure will be scanned and posted on the exhibition’s online platform.

Other national pavilions are also looking at the past to find the resources for creating a better future. The Uzbekistan Pavilion has chosen Studio KO to curate an exhibition focused on the country’s rich architectural heritage and traditions. The Nordic Countries Pavilion, curated by Joar Nango, brings a fragment of the indigenous Sámi culture to Venice. At the same time, the Georgian Pavilion interrogates the temporality of our environmental footprint by exploring an artificially altered settlement in the Dusheti region of Georgia.


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