How fences have conditioned the understanding of public space is the reflection framed within the project of architect Felipe Ferrer: "Playground, artifacts to interact", which represents Peru in the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, open to the public until November 21.
Through this experience, we answer the general question "How will we live together? the main theme of this year's edition curated by Hashim Sarkis, who asks how, from a local problem, a global issue can be addressed.
In order to determine the project to be presented in the Peruvian pavilion at the Architecture Biennale, a curatorial competition was held by the Patronato Cultural del Perú (Peru's Cultural Patronage), in coordination with the Ministry of Culture.
The winning project was "Playground, artifacts to interact" by Felipe Ferrer, which poses a deep reflection on public space and the mechanisms that can isolate it from people through a key element: fences, which basically mean fear.
The proposal of the architect from Lima and the curator of the Exhibition focuses on how to break this fear, transforming these pieces and building new artifacts that encourage interaction through play, thereby giving a new meaning to this material and encouraging a better relationship among citizens.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
"It is a project that begins with a reflection when we moved to La Molina in 2014. We had to go through several gates and fences. The number of fences was annoying, but over time you got used to them and noticed them less," said Ferrer about the conception of the idea.
"Somehow, the installation of these fences became regularized, characterizing parts of our city in its urban sense and as a reflection of our social insecurity," a regularization that is reflected at all levels and even in other countries such as the United States and Mexico.
"It was how after analyzing the use and disuse of these fences, the concept of using them for something more positive was conceived, recycling them and transforming them into objects that contribute to our society and our city something positive," said the architect.
"We considered to free the streets by removing the fences, and we proposed urban furniture for our city, such as benches, bicycle parking, trash cans, bus stops, among others."
In 2017, this experience was presented for the 2018 Architecture Biennale, which had "Free Space" as its main theme, but it placed second. However, the opportunity came to present for the next edition and decided to focus not only on creating useful elements, but making these improve the relationship among citizens. This is how Playground was born.
"What we proposed, more than plans, models and photos of projects, was an experience. More than a visual theme, the idea of the proposal was that people visiting the Biennale are able to experience, first of all, that impossibility of 'crossing to the other side,'" explained the curator of the Peruvian pavilion's exhibition.
More than a denunciation of the problem of the fences, it is an alternative to this reality, transforming these pieces into artifacts to invite interaction, which will allow us to learn to interact with each other better through trust, thereby reducing fear.
"The emblematic artifacts are the seesaws where two people find the balance between them to be able to sit comfortably. Once in balance, one ascends or descends depending on the other and then they take turns, always depending on each other. Through balance and play, trust emerges. Trust is fundamental to generate harmony and an easy interaction during the game. To be successful, the game starts and ends with both of them in the same level."
In addition to the seesaws, another example of an artifact included in the experience is the A-shaped ladder, "which requires one person to help the other to climb it without losing balance." Ferrer highlights the power of subtle communication developed in a physical and intuitive manner. A game that teaches us that we are all mirrors of each other.
What does it mean to represent Peru in such an important event as the Venice Architecture Biennale? “The Venice Biennale gives us a good opportunity to look at ourselves as a society, as citizens of Peru and the world. It is an excuse to reflect on how we are living" adds Ferrer.
The Peruvian Pavilion opened its doors and allows visitors to live a unique experience that will make them reflect on the importance of public spaces. The exhibition is complemented by visual and sound elements.
Through our participation, we will promote the avant-garde and cultural openness, providing a strong impetus for Peruvian talent at international level and contributing to the country's media exposure globally.
The participation of our country is in charge of the Patronato Cultural del Perú since 2016, a non-profit organization responsible for the production and organization of our pavilion at the event, together with architect Jose Orrego, Commissioner of the Peruvian pavilion since 2012. It is supported by the Wiese Foundation, El Comercio, PROMPERÚ, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In the last editions of the Biennale, Peru participated with "Anthropophagous Indians - Art Biennale 2019", "Undercover - Architecture Biennale 2018" and "Our Amazon Frontline - Art Biennale 2017."