|VENICE BIENNALE 2010: CRONOCAOS, ITALY, VENICE, 2010|
By OMA © All rights reserved
Architects – we who change the world – have been oblivious or hostile to the manifestations of preservation. Since 1981, in Portoghesi’s "Presence of the Past", there has been almost no attention paid to preservation in successive architecture Biennales.
OMA and AMO has been obsessed, from the beginning, with the past. Our initial idea for this exhibition was to focus on 26 projects that have not been presented before as a body of work concerned with time and history. In this room, we show the documentary debris of these efforts. But 2010 is the perfect intersection of two tendencies that will have so-far untheorised implications for architecture: the ambition of the global taskforce of ‘preservation’ to rescue larger and larger territories of the planet, and the – corresponding? – global rage to eliminate the evidence of the postwar period of architecture as a social project. In the second room, we show the wrenching simultaneity of preservation and destruction that is destroying any sense of a linear evolution of time. The two rooms together document our period of acute CRONOCAOS.
Embedded in huge waves of development, which seem to transform the planet at an ever-accelerating speed, there is another kind of transformation at work: the area of the world declared immutable through various regimes of preservation is growing exponentially. A huge section of our world (about 12%) is now off-limits, submitted to regimes we don’t know, have not thought through, cannot influence. At its moment of surreptitious apotheosis, preservation does not quite know what to do with its new empire.
As the scale and importance of preservation escalates each year, the absence of a theory and the lack of interest invested in this seemingly remote domain becomes dangerous. After thinkers like Ruskin and Viollet-Le-Duc, the arrogance of the modernists made the preservationist look like a futile, irrelevant figure. Postmodernism, in spite of its lip service to the past, did no better. The current moment has almost no idea how to negotiate the coexistence of radical change and radical stasis that is our future.
As we head towards a climax of preservation, ambiguities and contradictions build up:
• Time cannot be stopped in its tracks, but there is no consideration in the arsenal of preservation of how its effects should be managed, how the ‘preserved’ could stay alive, and yet evolve.
• There is little awareness in preservation of how different cultures have interpreted permanence, or of the variations in material, climate and environment, which in themselves require radically different modes of preservation.
• With its own undeclared ideology, preservation prefers certain authenticities. Others – typically, politically difficult ones – it suppresses, even if they are crucial to understanding history.
• Through preservation’s ever-increasing ambitions, the time lag between new construction and the imperative to preserve has collapsed from two thousand years to almost nothing. From retrospective, preservation will soon become prospective, forced to take decisions for which it is entirely unprepared.
• From a largely cultural concern, preservation has become a political issue, and heritage a right – and like all rights, susceptible to political correctness. Bestowing an aura of authenticity and loving care, preservation can trigger massive surges in development. In many cases, the past becomes the only plan for the future…
Rem Koolhaas, Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, Kayoko Ota, Carolina Cantante, Farshid Gazor, Andrew Linn, Amelia McPhee, Miriam Roure Parera, Simon Pennec, Stephan Petermann, Becky Quintal, Sasha Smolin, Lawrence Siu, James Westcott