Sterile Pleasure of Negation
After the Party, Belgina Pavilion, Architecture Biennale 2008, Venice, Kersten Geers & David van Severen

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One of the critical categories with which one can give architecture back its political significance is that of the void. It is into this critical tradition of the void that Kersten Geers and David Van Severen breathe new life in the Belgian Pavilion at the International Architecture Biennale in Venice. The Belgian Pavilion is cut off from the dominant context of the architecture biennale by a seven-metre-high wall. The floor of both the existing pavilion and the new ‘garden’ around it are strewn with a covering of confetti. Chairs are also scattered about. Visitors walk through the double wall thus formed and enter the original pavilion through a side entrance, and therefore experience the new ensemble of old and new spaces in a disoriented state. The title, After the Party, and the choice of confetti on the floor are references to a work of art by Thomas Demand called Terrasse (1998), which inspired Geers and Van Severen. Colourful Chinese lanterns burn festively above deserted tables on a terrace with a dark tinted floor. Demand’s intriguing mysteries raise questions about things that are not present in the work itself. It makes one think and derives its effect from the enduring uncertainties that appear in the work. The Belgian Pavilion works just like Demand’s photo. It is an architecture without side effects and lacking in human traces and additions. Just as, in photography, one has to find the point – which Roland Barthes calls the punctum – at which the story of the photo comes to life, the Belgian Pavilion is only set in motion when the visitors take possession of it. [ continue reading in the book]

In: The Specific and the Singular, Architecture in Flanders. 2008 - 2009 yearbook, edition 2010, Flemisch Architecture Intitute (www.via.be).

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