Venice Biennale 2012

Head up! is at the same time a gesture and an encouragement. It is a corporal movement and a slogan or an invitation to look up, to raise the look from the contingent over constraints and limits. It implies
invoking shadows of the future, introducing dreams into the mind, creating illusions and utopias, inoculating trust and hope. It is an invitation into a space which is not located in or on the ground but in another land, of desire and unlimited possibilities, in
the antechamber of dream, in which current problems find future remedies. It is an invitation to climb the ladder of utopia in order to reach the soft clouds of imagination. It is a rejection of the usual lamentations connected to social and economic conditions of the present, of the current situation in Romania. It is an invitation to dream of positive scenarios, of a future to which you can look with your head up.

For us, the «ground» is invoked in the exhibition precisely through its absence and denial. The exhibition space is visually marked by immateriality and imponderability. The tangible silhouettes are covered by cloud material. In this new ground, access paths can be opened towards an alternate reality, and, at the same time, a curative reality of today’s Romania, through a series of soft utopias. Although these utopias are rooted in the tangible Romanian territory, they transgress national boundaries and are constituted by a «Common Ground» through the need to offer solutions to
universal problems related to ecological, social, technological, spatial or urbanization preoccupations.

The exhibition mainly has two parts, separated by the plane of a horizontal mirror. The visitor steps into an amply illuminated space with vague limits, which creates the sensation of floating. A layer of clouds at the floor level (smoke laboriously created with dry ice) offers the illusion of total detachment from the tangible and the actual stepping on a material of the sky. The mirror amplifies this sensation: looking up, you can see yourself stepping on clouds.

In the mirror overhead a series of circular openings provide access to another world, of an imagined Romania, illustrated through a series of utopian projects. The breaches of the dream plan represent precisely the escape or the returning into the tangible, a tangible in which the future is possible or has already happened. The circle is an archetypal shape, marking passing, aspiration and elevation (like Alice, the visitor falls into the future).
Symbolically, it represents access to an impossible world, that of the dream which becomes reality. The body of the exhibition is formed from a series of studies already formulated by architects from Romania. More visions on new ideas for solving some local subjects are reunited in order to describe a
possible history of the future. The selection of projects is oriented towards the creation of a theoretical tool, which is soft utopia. This is situated in a concrete
field of application, both cultural and spatial (in the present case the Romanian one) and tries new roles for nature in the urban environment; at the same time it outlines a specific aspect of contemporary Romanian architecture. Themes such as making communist housing neighbourhoods greener, the discovery of urban agriculture, vertical nomadism, megavillage (the disappearance of the difference between metropolis and rural), the healing of the periphery, nature as parasite over the urban, or even the violent revenge of nature, create the language of this type of utopia.


PROGRAM: Romanian National Pavilion at BA Venice
STATUS: completed
YEAR: 2012
CONTRIBUTORS: FOR, Republic of Architects, Upgrade Studio, studio BAsar, Bozin&Szekely, Blipsz!, Ioana Arion