Just under three weeks ago I visited Venice to attend their annual Biennale. The Biennale inhabits the entirety of the city, with townhouses being transformed into installation rooms and theatres; and grand halls stretching for hundreds of metres, packed wall-to-wall in contemporary art from around the world.
Exploring the city was like searching for jewels in a treasure chest, and I was lucky to come across many. Pedro Cabrita Reis’ installation in a Venetian town-house on the water was one of the diamond’s of the Biennale. Hidden away down one of Venice’s many twisting cobbled pathways, I climbed a steep stairwell, dimly lit and hushed in silence only to emerge in a vast hallway starkly lit by bright industrial lights.
The metal construction spanned the entirety of the floorspace, tunnelling through doorways and windows like a huge metallic snake. The use of such heavy, industrial material in an old and decadent household emphasised the strength and imposing atmosphere of the structure. I got the impression that if the house were knocked down the metal frame would remain entirely as it was, unscratched and proudly welded.
The seemingly unarranged cables decorating the floor gave the structure movement and life, and brought me back to reality as I realised that although Cabrita Reis had used the lighting as an artist’s material they are also hold a very utilitarian purpose within industrial and public buildings worldwide.
Pedro Cabrita Reis did this in order to minimise the decor of the existing house and to instead present a new floorplan and perspective on a structure that is not necessarily often explored as one open space. The drawings and models pictures on the walls promoted a more personable environment complimented by the concealed placement of fresh oranges high upon a beam alongside several jugs of water.
I believe Pedro Cabrita Reis wished to show the juxtaposition between the existing house and a new modern structure, suggesting that we can still learn things from an old space by projecting modern materials and alternative perspective onto them. The grandeur of the building is set aside in favour of exploration and appreciation of a more simplified and exciting journey through the space which is suddenly opened up and made more accessible by Cabrita Reis’ design and structure.