Per request of the Secretary of State for Culture (Direcção Geral das Artes), the Triennale took on the production of Homeland | News from Portugal, curated by Pedro Campos Costa. For the 14th International Venice Biennale curated by Rem Koolhaas, the Portuguese official representation attempted an unconventional exhibition instrument: a newspaper.
The Portuguese Pavilion, strategically located in the Arsenal, was the chosen space for the presentation and free distribution of the first three editions of a newspaper. From July to November of 2014, Homeland, News from Portugal showed original content as an answer to Rem Koolhaas’ challenge: “Fundamentals – Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014”. Homeland proposed a critical reflexion on housing, a field that is used frequently in experimental architecture and a key element in urban and territorial construction, a social and cultural reflection of its inhabitants.
Six groups of architects were elected to portray six different housing typologies: temporary, informal, detached, collective, rural and rehabilitated. Each typology focused on one of the following cities: Porto, Matosinhos, Loures, Lisbon, Setúbal and Évora.
HOMELAND – News from Nowhere*
Pedro Campos Costa
Cloning a Newspaper, in its graphic, in the way of writing and in the way of representation, allows us to use a simple and direct language, a hypertext as a possibility to debate a theme and go backwards and forwards in history, cross-referencing research from different disciplines about the same subject, and to question the present moment of crisis. What we are doing in Portugal? And what can we do? What do we think about what was the Modern Movement? How it was preserved? How can we deal with the new changelings?
The Architectural discourse is built by systems of representation such as drawings, models, photographs, books, films and advertisement. The relationship of architecture with the Media was extremely important to modern architecture. Beatriz Colomina argues that architecture only becomes modern in its engagement with the mass media. Architectural discourse is built on a system of representation such as drawings, models, photographs, books, films and advertisement. We want to use the newspaper not only as a metaphor for modernity in architecture, materializing a kind of archeological artifact that can represent itself as the history of modernity, but also as a tool of the “quotidian”, ephemeral and political. This is an opportunity to speak about Home and Land, an attempt to engage with society, with the territory and with the political context. William Morris in his 1890 book - News from Nowhere - was wondering about a future society, a utopian society, a fiction that, directly or indirectly, architects are responsible to build, a dream to transform reality into a better place. This newspaper is the Portuguese Pavilion, it aims to have an influence on the present Portuguese situation, to start a debate, to provoke some kind of response, to show possible paths, using examples from the past and speaking about the future. Everything happens in a specific place, with specific persons, in specific context, it´s not “nowhere”, but we constantly forget that what we sometimes call Utopia is probably the only way to modernity. Without a notion of future there is no modernity.
*this text was included in one of the Homeland newspapers and also the catalogue of the Portuguese Representation in the Venice Biennale 2014.