Pavilion of the Czech and Slovak Republics at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia
UNES-CO a project by Kateřina Šedá
For the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Kateřina Šedá has prepared a project that explores the absence of normal life in the centers of popular tourist destinations. The Czech and Slovak Pavilion will become the headquarters of the fictional UNES-CO company, whose aim is to return normal life to the deserted centers of historical cities.
“Buildings in which nobody lives. Shops that nobody needs. Streets where people don’t meet but avoid one another. This description could apply to socially excluded localities as much as to the most beautiful cities of the world inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. These similarities between otherwise diametrically contrasting places inspired me to create a project that calls attention to the problems associated with increased tourism,” says Kateřina Šedá.
The first town that Šedá has chosen to make more livable (by adding the warmth of human life) is Český Krumlov, a small town of 13,000 inhabitants in the southern part of the Czech Republic. Český Krumlov is visited by more than a million people every year, which has led locals to gradually move out of the historical city center. Buildings that once housed local residents are now home to hotels, restaurants, or shops selling tourist items. Only a few individuals still live in the center – a fate that many have predicted for Venice in the near future as well.
Kateřina Šedá’s UNES-CO project tries to reverse this trend and to point towards possible solutions. She will offer several families not just free housing in the form of starter flats, but will also pay them to bring “normal life” back to the city center. The company’s headquarters will be inside the Czech and Slovak Pavilion in Venice, where visitors will be able to browse through materials describing these “normal activities” or view a live broadcast from the streets of Český Krumlov showing the trial run of people bringing normal life back to the city streets.
Šedá’s aim is not just to call attention to the problems associated with the extreme increase in tourism, but also to offer real solutions for the affected areas. Visitors to the city play an important role in her project as well. “My goal is not to criticize tourism, but to find a way of getting outsiders to pause and to give them a chance to become locals for a moment. Eye-to-eye contact is the key to transforming a socially excluded locality into a shared place,” Šedá adds.
The curatorial vision of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia emphasizes a generosity of spirit and the humanity of architecture. In the words of this year Biennale Architettura curators, freespace encourages reviewing our ways of thinking and finding new ways of seeing the world. This approach also forms the foundation for the work of Kateřina Šedá.
Kateřina Šedá (1977) is one of the Czech Republic’s top award-winning artists. Last year, she received the prestigious Czech Architect of the Year Award. She has long used architecture as a tool in her art, and has worked with local residents in various localities. In her projects, she tries to positively influence an existing situation in order to encourage functional grassroots solutions that bring change and that are capable of further evolution without any additional input on her part while lifting the participants out of their ingrained habits or social isolation.
Commissioner of the Czech and Slovak Pavilion:
Adam Budak, National Gallery in Prague
Kateřina Šedá, Hana Jirmusová Lazarowitz
11.05.2018 - 24.11.2018
Czech and Slovak Pavilion at the Biennale Architettura 2018
24 May – 31 August 2018
Realization of the project on the streets of Český Krumlov
26 May – 25 November 2018
The 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Italy presentation of project at the Czech and Slovak Pavilion in Venice