suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
andrei RADUCANU, madalin GHEORGHE, & andrei IVANESCU: Materia Vulgaris — Common Ground (competition entry for the 2012 Venice Biennale Romanian Pavilion)
The phrase “common ground” appears in the language of architecture (and not only there) usually in connection to virtual territories, places where ideas or cultural phenomena converge. Lately, the architectural speech particularly tends towards this interpretation, sometimes excluding the materiality of the equation.
The material—the body—is and will be for a while now, the starting point of the ideatic or spiritual quests, no matter where they lead. Whether we like it or not, we are anchored in a physical, chemical and biologic reality that ultimately condition even our most intimate mental processes. Religious or secular, we all know that we come—and finally return—to the ground.
Unlike the products originating more or less directly from it, the material “earth” doesn’t have scale nor time, but rather contains all time and all scale. The soil generates and absorbs life, develops and reduces the chemical processes that supply our existence. The matter “ground” does not have a state of aggregation, or rather contains all these states: solid, liquid, gaseous. Although deeply involved in all the vital processes that influence our life, the soil transcends our cycle of existence. It is perennial and in fact eternal in this perenity.
Therefore, theoretical aura notwithstanding, “common ground” can encompass much more than “trivial soil”. Rather, our “common ground” represents matter in its universal ingredient.
In order to render this idea, we chose to explore the rough nature of the “ground” matter, presented in a contrasting, but suggestive context.
The tactile component is most important in the pavilion. The visitors are encouraged to really touch the soil – the star ingredient of the installation. The texture, the smell and the aspect of the soil contribute as a synesthetic sum at re-establishing an emotional bond with the earth that, during our daily adult lives we try to avoid at all costs.
The installation is shaped in the form of a crystalline conglomerate, made of 30 distinct cells filled with earth and perforated as much as possible, in order to obtain a “shop window” effect. Thus, the earth within seems to be something precious. The transparent walls of the cells are clad with a transparent polycarbonate.
The more accessible parts are open to permit visitors to touch the earth with their hands and to discover the treasures hidden within. These “treasures” are buried scale models, representing historic or present maps of the important Romanian cities, carved by a CNC mill from thick plates of wood. Just like Indiana Jones cleaning the dust from plates with antique inscriptions, our visitors will perpetually move around the earth layer above the city models in order to explore the details of the mini-towns.
We count on rediscovering a forgotten childhood pleasure, that of hunting for buried treasures, touching the damp, almost sensual soil, from which everything is born and returned. Still, in order not to disturb our guests too much, two portable lavatories will be placed in the waiting room, so that everybody leaves clean-handed.