4-11 JUNE, 2014 | LUDOTECA SANTA MARIA AUSILIATRICE, VENICE, ITALY
Why are we here?
We already have funding from the Dutch Funds for Creative Industry to cover the venue and the things that will go in the exhibition. This is however not enough to cover all of the costs related with transport and build up. The Kickstarter funds will allow us to pay for everything associated with doing the exhibition - we need to transport the materials and equipment to Venice, pay for insurance and also make modifications to the space to make it suitable for what we want to do.
Death in Venice is entirely a bottom up initiative based on volunteer work of passionate people, with your support we will be able to complete it securing the quality that is worth the effort we have already invested in it!
'What is more fundamental than death?'
The theme of death is relevant to us all and where we die is a critical part of that; how and where we die underpin a lot of cultural ideas about what a 'good death' is. In the UK, 3% of people want to die in hospital, but 53% do; almost one in three hospital patients in Scotland will die within a year, and nearly one in ten will die during their time in hospital. As architects and urban designers, we think that it is important to look critically at our approach to death and the places associated with it, so that we can start to create better spaces for death and dying in the future.
‘Death in Venice’ is an independent event, which will be shown at the Ludoteca Santa Maria Ausiliatrice in Venice (Italy), from 4-11 June 2014. It will exhibit the evolution of the relationship between modern architecture and our understanding of and approach to death over the last century.
The exhibition lends its overarching theme from this year’s Architecture Venice Biennale, which will focus on the 'Fundamentals’ of architecture and the theme ‘Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014’.
“After several architecture biennales dedicated to the celebration of the contemporary, Fundamentals will look at histories, try to reconstruct how architecture finds itself in its current situation, and speculate on the future." – Rem Koolhaas, curator of the 14th Architecture Venice Biennale
The development of architecture related to death and dying has been, over the past decades, as vivid and significant as the development of other modern ideas that shaped the contemporary city. Nevertheless, it is rarely foregrounded in the architectural history of the 20th century. We decided to bring this topic to the discussion of fundamentals and modernity because death is fundamental and its changing place in modern society is worth significantly more attention from architects and urban designers.
Where are we now?
We're now busy producing the exhibition design based on our research. We are working together with graphic and interactive designers LUST to prepare the interactive installation, infographics and images that will make up the exhibition. This part of the work is covered by funding that we have already secured from the Creative Industries Fund NL. We're here at Kickstarter because we need further funding to complete the exhibition and bring it to Venice, to turn the work we have done already into a fantastic and meaningful event.
Have a look at this film for a sneak preview of the installations that we are preparing to show.
Where and when will the exhibition take place?
The exhibition will take place at the beautiful space of Ludoteca Santa Maria Ausiliatrice between June 4th and 11th. Ludoteca is located near the entrance to the Giardini area at Fondamenta San Giovacchino, 30122 Venice (https://goo.gl/maps/0Umm1)
We have some really great rewards, from prints and monographs from the exhibition, ‘Death in Venice’ tote bags, and invites to exclusive events in Venice, the actual infographic reliefs featured in the exhibition, to a gravestone we will design for you. We want all of our supporters to become a part of this exhibition to the extent they can – the most basic one allows you to follow our progress online as we prepare the exhibition, developing the interactive audio-visual installation, infographics and images, but you can also choose to take an actual piece of the exhibition home, when the show is over.
A lot of people have been asking us about exhibition catalogues, especially for those who won't be able to make it to Venice. As part of the exhibition, we're going to be making a series of monographs, one for each of the years 1914, 1948, 1981 and 2014. Each one will describe the most common scenarios around death in the given year – likely causes and places of death and what happened afterwards, from the families', registrars' and funeral directors' actions and processes, to the architectural and urban spaces associated with each step. It will contain photographs, infographics, urban and architectural plans, quotes, key facts and statistics. They will be displayed as separate items within the exhibition itself, but for Kickstarter we would like to bind these and offer them as rewards – you can get one individual one, two years of your choice, or the whole collection related to all of the four years.
More about the context
Architecture related to death and dying used to be influential and important to the development of architecture as a discipline. Hospitals, funeral chapels and cemeteries used to set an example that would be followed, and not only in other buildings related to death and dying. These forms would set trends and define values for architecture more widely. Today, this once strong position seems to have faded away completely. And this is despite the fact that the need for design related to death and dying is greater than ever before. With average life spans increasing, and with the rise of degenerative diseases, the period of time in which we deal with end-of-life processes has extended and with it, our exposure to the architecture of hospitals, hospices, care and nursing homes, as well as crematoria and cemeteries.
The exhibition will focus firstly on Britain, which we see as a forerunner in many of the trends related to death and modern architecture – it was the first country to industrialise, was quick to urbanise, with 77% of the people living in urban areas as soon as 1900, it's where the modern western cremation movement and modern hospices developed. This helped eventually to shape a broader Western context strongly influenced by the British example.
The last 100 years saw significant cultural and technological changes, leading to shifts in both our approaches to death and their expression in the built environment, changes which we think are under-explored and under-discussed.
With easy access to modern medicine in hygienic institutions, longevity and general health have improved on an unprecedented scale over the course of the twentieth century. Individual encounters with mortality not only declined but also, where death had previously occurred at home, it shifted to institutions – to hospitals and, from 1967 on, hospices. Society also increasingly began to accept cremation – while only 0.02% of the population was cremated in 1914, by 2014 this had grown to 72% – a change in practice that coincided with a decline in religious observance, though public health campaigning and lack of available land also played a role. Death, once an intensely social and public experience has, in modernity, become ever more private and isolated. The confrontation with mortality, once integral to everyday life, is now veiled from wider society. And yet, it continues to shape our buildings and cities in surprising and powerful ways, as these spaces themselves shape our experience of death.
With this exhibition, our aim is to question this current state of affairs and shed a new light on this incredibly important topic.
We're going to use two approaches to tell our story: a more focused, analytical one which will document the cultural, technological and architectural changes; and then an interactive audio-visual installation looking at the pervasiveness of death in our cities, even as it is largely hidden from view.
The cultural, technological and architectural changes will be described through large-scale infographics and images, as well as archive photography, urban and architectural plans, quotes and statistics. Together, they will describe the most common scenarios around death in the given year – likely causes and places of death, and what happened afterwards, from the families', registrar's and funeral directors actions and processes, to the architectural and urban spaces associated with each step.
They will show how the architecture of hospitals, hospices, crematoria and cemeteries has adapted to facilitate new ways of dealing with death.
The interactive installation will use the actual experience in the space of the exhibition to reveal changing cultural attitudes to death in the last 100 years. It will be based on ambience, the movement of visitors and their presence in space. This part of the show will allow us to create a unique, sensation-based experience, revealing the continuing presence of death in our cities and buildings.
Alison and Ania are two independent architects based in Rotterdam who one day joined forces to make an exhibition about death. Day to day they run their own practices that combine research, art and architecture.
Alison is the founder of Killing Architects, a studio for design and research in architecture and urbanism, based in Rotterdam. The studio works mostly at a bigger scale – architectural design work on larger, mixed-use buildings or developing strategies for neighbourhoods and cities, as well as research, events, films and exhibitions that explore issues within the built environment. Everything happens somewhere and while the built environment is shaped by its social, economic and political context, the reverse is also to an extent true – the way we shape our cities and buildings influences what happens in them. Killing Architects is good at working across disciplines, with groups who don’t have a built environment background, bringing an architectural and urbanist perspective to projects where the built environment is important. www.killingarchitects.com
Ania works as an architecture curator and researcher focusing on the socio-cultural aspects of the spatial practice. She is interested in exploring ways in which architecture and urban planning can be cross-fertilized with other disciplines to offer novel perspectives for the culture of the city; and especially in the role aspects of openness and communication play in the spatial, cultural and technological realms. She has also recently started a new publishing platform called the Amateur Cities, which aims to bring together the city makers and thinkers in order to provide both sides with new insight on the new urban processes. www.aniamolenda.com
For ‘Death in Venice’ we also invited LUST – a multidisciplinary graphic design practice established by Jeroen Barendse, Thomas Castro, and Dimitri Nieuwenhuizen, and based in The Hague - to work with us on developing the graphics and experience of the exhibition. We wanted to work with LUST because their work spans a broad spectrum of media, from traditional print work and book design, to interactive installations. But also because they share our interest in exploring new approaches to design at the point where new media and information technologies, architecture and urban systems and graphic design overlap. www.lust.nl This video shows one of their previous projects:
The project is also made possible by a group of excellent architects and researchers: Abigail Batchelor (UK), Rachel Engler (US), Magnus Weightman (NL/UK) and George Wilson (UK) without whom it would never have the chance to happen; as well as Harald van der Sluys who helped us a lot with this campaign.
Death in Venice is an independent event that is NOT a part of the official program of the Venice Architecture Biennale. It is inspired by its theme and approach, but further than that has no connection to the events overseen and organized by La Biennale di Venezia. We take no responsibility for misuse of the information provided above in order to draw connections between Death in Venice and La Biennale di Venezia. For further inquiries please contact the Ania Molenda and Alison Killing.
Risks and challenges
We're working on a tight schedule to produce the exhibition. Complying with external production deadlines puts a lot of pressure on our schedule, so we are now working full speed in order to meet them and deliver the exhibition not only on time, but also to a high level of quality. Undoubtedly the coming months will be demanding and stressful and in addition to our skills, we will also need a bit of luck to tie everything together!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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