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Two Ravensbourne BA (Hons) Architecture tutors, Era Savvides and Nasios Varnavas, have been appointed curators for the Cyprus National Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. The Venice Architecture Biennale is considered to be one of the most prestigious architecture events in the world, with thematic exhibitions representing countries from around the world. Era and Nasios are amongst the youngest curators to have ever been chosen for the Cyprus participation.
Established in 1895 and recognised as one of the most respected cultural institutions in the world, the Biennale usually awards the honour of curator to established architects who have an extensive practicing history. It is a great opportunity for Era and Nasios to be amongst the youngest curators to be selected by their country despite only establishing their studio two years ago. The competitive application process is overseen by 7 expert judges from the Cyprus Architects Association, followed by an interview.
Era and Nasios will be responding to this year’s Architecture Biennale theme curated by Professor Harshim Sarkis (Dean, School of Architecture and Planning at MIT) and titled ‘How will we live together?’. Together with their fellow curators Marina Christodoulidou and Evagoras Vanezis, Era and Nasios will examine how the home has evolved to accommodate all of the different aspects of life following national lockdowns and beyond.
The Cyprus Pavilion is titled, ‘Anachoresis: Upon Inhabiting Distances’ and will examine the table as one of the most symbolic and social objects of the home. The table as an analogy, acts as the social hub of the home that brings people together and provides a sense of community. By merging country and cultural identity, the installation takes the form of a long table, which represents a shared metaphorical and political space exploring the idea of scale and inhabiting distances. It will include everyday objects, fragments and materialities to exhibit the culture, history and architectures of Cyprus and propose a collective way of living. The domestic space is seen to transform into a City where spatial relations and distances are re-examined, re-imagined and inhabited.
“It is a great honour to be selected to manifest our idea at the Architecture Biennale, especially as Nasios and I have only been working together under our newly founded studio, Urban Radicals, for two years now” Era says. When explaining how they came to choose the table as the focus, she goes on to say “the table is the core of our installation as it represents the centre of the home and it is where people come to share stories, food, work and much more. Our aim is to take this very human aspect and re-imagine how its “ideals” can infiltrate/ influence our cities.”
Discussing how Cyprus would be represented through the installation, Era says “we played with the idea of scale and distance which is particularly relevant to Cyprus, with a political sense. We wanted to be able to show the place through the table’s changing forms, materialities and objects we incorporate into the installation which create a sense of tension when assembled together.”
Nasios describes the installation as, “a long expansive, bold gesture weaving into the space of a domestic house, which in turn is made of smaller components and a collection of everyday objects which allow the viewer to experience and interact with an archive of continually shifting material, spatial and social relations”. He goes on to add that “movement and sound are used as tools to unite the different rhythms and distances in communal spaces”. In doing so, Nasios hopes that the showcase will accurately portray not only the theme but also how current world events have influenced our lifestyles.
Nasios explains that, “how we play with distance and living together has been given new meaning in this day and age, especially as we socially distance, pause, reflect and inhabit the space created in-between.”
It is an amazing accomplishment for Era and Nasios to be selected to showcase at the Venice Architecture Biennale. We wish them the best of luck for the exhibition which is now set to open on Saturday 22 May 2021 and will remain open for the following six months.
You can find out more about the festival here.
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