Two of our Fellows, Karly and Amy, share their initial thoughts after stewarding the pavilion during the busy opening week.
Karly McGinty from London South Bank University
The empty pavilion. The pavilion is empty. Why is the pavilion empty? It's been fascinating to see the reaction to ISLAND during the opening week. You can see the questions passing over people's faces as they walk through the galleries. Looking for something to take a photo of. There are a few clues; the scratched floors, scraped walls, some masking tape, dust... all suggesting something was here. And that something was Phyllida Barlow's 2017 Biennale exhibition - Folly. The interior pavilion has been left unaltered since the previous exhibition was removed.
However, without these specifics you might say that the pavilion has been abandoned, one of the themes suggested for ISLAND. And as this is Venice, you might assume flood waters have driven people away, perhaps in this case upwards, to the roof of the pavilion, to the raised piazza.
The raised piazza, constructed on scaffolding, signals change, building, progress and reconstruction - another suggested theme. Up here you have long views across the lagoon. This is something you cannot see from within the pavilion itself. The raised piazza therefore opens up a new view, or perspective. Both the pavilion and the piazza offer freespace, the theme of this year's Biennale.
Both parts, in my view, offer sanctuary also. I have particularly enjoyed seeing people smile as they walk through the empty pavilion; it feels restful on busy days in the Giardini. It feels quite far from the difficult theme of Brexit, but then you can draw elements from ISLAND that might fit with that, too. For me, ISLAND offers all perspectives on Brexit, not just my own view, and in many ways has helped me understand another view, even if I do not agree with it.
Perhaps that is the true success of ISLAND. There are no right answers here, simply an opportunity to think, share thoughts and understand one another better.
Follow Karly's instagram as she maps her experience in Venice throughout the course of the month: @architectureandpudding