Irish Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2016
Location: 15th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice
Commissioner: Culture Ireland
In Collaboration with Niall McLaughlin Architects
The 15th International Architecture Exhibition, curated by Alejandro Aravena for the Venice Biennale, is titled Reporting from the Front. It invited architects to bring to a broader audience lessons for how to improve the quality of people’s lives when ‘working on the margins, under tough circumstances, facing pressing challenges’. Losing Myself, created for the Irish Pavilion, examines the challenge of dementia in the context of an increasing ageing population.
Visitors enter our space at the end of the Arsenale through a gap in the partition walls. The room is darkened, in contrast with the projected brightness on the floor. The floor accommodates a 4.8m x 6.4m animated drawing of the Alzheimer’s Respite Centre, a building in Dublin designed by Niall McLaughlin Architects. The drawing shows multiple projected hands moving across the plane of the floor as they create fragments of a plan. They merge and overlap. These hands represent sixteen individuals inhabiting a series of rooms at the Alzheimer’s Centre. The projection consistently labours towards the clarity of a completed plan but falls short of achieving it.
Suspended speakers create a soundscape, consisting of the physical sounds of the act of drawing itself, layered with murmured conversations; sounds of rain and the sea; quotidiannoises –a kettle boiling, children playing, people eating – and the bells of the Angelus. This installation is an attempt to communicate and interpret some of the changes to spatial perception caused by dementia.
In order to understand the condition, we have read, researched and questioned. We have spoken to a broad range of people – neuroscientists, psychologists, health workers, philosophers, anthropologists, people with dementia and their families – about dementia, the brain, and the role of design in dementia care. We are interested in how architecture can improve the lives of people with dementia. Beyond this, we hope that our research into the impact of the condition on spatial cognition will equip us with a deeper understanding of how all of our minds interpret space.
A short video clip of the installation at the Venice Biennale can be seen below:
A plan view recording of the drawing projection in its full 16 min length can be seen below:
Losing Myself is a collaboration between Yeoryia Manolopoulou and Niall McLaughlin. The project is supported by Culture Ireland; the Arts Council; the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland; the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL; Online Reprographics and RTÉ Archives.
Ongoing documentation of our research, interviews, and the design development of the project can be found on our website www.losingmyself.ie.