Located in a corner of the Giardini, close to the entrance, the building is slightly skewed with respect to its neighbours, Belgium and the Netherlands. Tucked away in the corner, it seems off-kilter. Ignasi Aballí (Barcelona, 1958) stumbled upon this apparent mistake while studying the floor plans. His proposal endeavours to resolve this dilemma by building new internal walls, identical in size to the original ones, at an angle of 10 degrees, the required amount to align the building with its neighbours. The intervention will disrupt spatial memory and will modify the exhibition space, its location at the Biennale, and its relationship with the city of Venice. Why correct a pavilion previously validated by someone else? Why compare it with its neighbours? Why this titanic effort only to end up losing space? This is where the apparently simple conceit becomes much more complicated.
On one hand, the new architecture draws another image of the Spanish Pavilion and clouds any single unified notion of national representation. On the other, the action of correcting the pavilion exposes the impossibility of the two spaces coexisting without both having to make concessions. At times the original walls are nullified while in other places there is insufficient room for the new ones. As with the architectural walkthrough, a visit to the pavilion is diverted by continuous digressions, by the play of size and scale, presentation and representation, literal versus recreation, simulation in the guise of truthfulness.
In tandem with the shifting of the pavilion, the project is complemented by the publication of six books about Venice that attempt to “correct” what we typically expect from a tourist guide to the city. Aballí identifies another apparent error in relation to the city: Venice is one of the cities that attracts the most visitors in the world and, in turn, it faces serious problems due to mass tourism, pushing it to the brink of collapse. This contradiction drives the artist to view it in a slowed down manner and through the lens of his own artistic practice.
The entire project is a meta-exhibition and at once a dematerialization. It is like an oblique and concealed institutional critique. Like a broken image of Venice. A disjointed idea of Spain.
Photos: Claudio Franzini