The Pavilion of Chile is a playing field, sacred but independent of all religions, which illustrates the mystery.
The entrance is a neutral space where Crystal, a neon sculpture created specifically for la Biennale by the Chilean artist Iván Navarro in collaboration with Chilean architect Pedro Pulido, is installed. The purpose of this space is to disguise and mislead the visitor; to hide the interior of the central nave, the second inflexion: the problem of how to show architecture. What is the sense of elaborating an installation over an installation?
Above the ground, form and content become one. The nave of the Isolotto dell’Arsenale, the space it contains, is a scenario with such an impressive history that we decide not to intervene it, but understand and empower it by placing a 12.9 cubic metre (108 square metres by 12 cm) salt floor, with salt brought to Venice by ship from the Tarapacá Salt Flat in Chile. Meanwhile we struggle with the complexities involved in occupying such a large, practically empty space, a space like Chile, as the Spanish architect Federico Soriano once defined ’an empty country‘ that encloses huge complexities.
The project inspires absence and perception, a silence necessary for walking over a salt floor that reveals visions and sensibilities of a landscape and a territory, visions that seven architects will represent in the form of objects that, in order to be displayed and empowered, are separated from the ground and thus disappear.
The project here, guided by mystery, encounters and is inserted into a room whose walls were build between 1170 and 1300, walls (which we do not intervene) that play a part in the XXI song of the Inferno of Dante’s Divine Comedy, and are also referred to in Galileo´s Due lezioni all’Accademia Fiorentina circa de La Figura, sito e Grandezza dell’Inferno di Dante. Both of these texts were studied 500 years later by one of the founders of the Institute of Architecture of the Universidad Católica de Valparaíso in Chile (and present in this exhibit), the Argentinian poet Godofredo Iommi, who describes them in his text “Una digresión acerca de Galileo”.
Since its origins Venice has always been associated to salt, having been exploited nearby since the Roman era. Venice became the centre of commercial control of salt imported from all the Adriatic Sea, which can be recognized in one of its most emblematic buildings: Il Magazzini dei Sale. Since 1400 it has been a gateway to the city but also has developed to a curious space which mix politics and culture, an unavoidable mirror of temporary economic, political, social and cultural movements.
Here, the main issue is the coherence and visual unity of the whole, more so than what it is represented. The foundation of the visual presentation is inspired by Caravaggio and Velázquez, Joseph Wright´s Scientific Experiment, and possibly Georges de Latour´s Saint Joseph the Carpenter.
The pavilion is conceived as an elegant Chiaroscuro of great dramatic intensity where all elements are neutral except for the light of the seven lamps that exhibit each one of the architect’s ideas, their light directed towards the floor, towards the Common Ground on which their differences do not cease to exist but cease to be important. From a certain distance, everything looks the same, loses definition.