Biennale Bulletin: Israeli Pavilion Filled With Toys, Satire
August 22, 2012
The Israeli pavilion for the 2012 Architecture Biennale in Venice examines the complicated relationship between Israel and America from 1973 to 2008, and how it resulted in a capitalist overlay on a formerly solidly socialist nation. The exhibition is entitled “Aircraft Carrier” after the following quote from Alexander Haig, U.S. Secretary of State from 1981 to 1982: “Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk…and is located in a critical region for American national security.” Read more.
The exhibit unfolds across the two floors of the pavilion: art and photography above, and an American-style gift shop below. The upstairs exhibit focuses on four types of American influence on American architecture, described in the press release as: “Signals (attempts by companies and individuals to announce, through built projects, their social and political power); Emporiums (the rise of the free-market theorem and the rapid transformation Israeli society from socialist austerity into hyper-consumerist frenzy); Allies (the state capitalization of private development models and ambition as means of promoting national goals) and Flotillas (the segregation of Israeli space into discrete environments with parallel architectures, built for different sub-societies).”
Once visitors have viewed the upstairs exhibits and accumulated enough understanding of the exhibit’s context, they move downstairs to the giftshop, where 30 custom-made items by designer Tal Erez are displayed on tables. This merchandise is sly, subversive, and fun, with bobblehead dolls of Menachem Begin, Anwar Sadat, and Jimmy Carter, moveable-tile puzzles for spelling “Palestine” and “Israel,” rings with battleships, viewfinders, and Bibles. It’s an audacious pavilion, and an extremely exciting one.
“Aircraft Carrier” features works by Assaf Evron, Fernando Guerra, Florian Holzherr, Nira Pereg, and Jan Tichy, and is curated by Erez Ella, Milana Gitzin Adiram, and Dan Handel.
Images by “Aircraft Carrier” participants