Anthony Burke and Gerard Reinmuth write editorial in

While it is fashionable to quote Bruno Latour at present, his project has particular relevance to the 2012 Venice Biennale of Architecture given David Chipperfield’s curatorial theme. Chipperfield’s agenda is aligned to Latour’s reconstruction of the Social, interrogating the possibilities of re-assembly after the exhaustion of critical theory and the critical method of deconstruction.

We understand Chipperfield’s theme – Common Ground – simultaneously as an optimistic projection of a discipline and a critical rejection of architecture as it is currently constructed. Architecture is understood here not as buildings but as a discipline. That is, architecture in Common Ground focuses on architecture as a practice, not an object.

Perhaps the most obvious question raised by Common Ground is where exactly this common space might exist? Is it to be found between buildings, pavilions or nations? Or is it something that needs to be constructed, rather than discovered? Is the project of Common Ground a form of archaeology, or a projection?

Our curatorial direction for the Australian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale – established some months before Chipperfield’s appointment – is based in similar questions and concerns about the state of the profession. Coming off a post-economic-boom exhaustion with the novelty of form and images that have come to dominate architecture, we went in search of a way to reconstruct our discipline. In these times of economic recalibration, and with a growing sense of the dangers of the excesses that we have taken for granted since the beginnings of modernism in the industrial revolution, we found ourselves not so much interested in critique but in being activists. That is, we saw the potential to be actively engaged with the project of ‘redirection’ of our discipline, to use Tony Fry’s term.


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