Rem Koolhaas, Dutch architect, urbanist, author, and co-founder of think tank/design house OMA, has collaborated with crystal magnate Swarovski to create an out sized glowing gateway which frames the entrance to Monditalia, his contribution to the 14th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale.
Measuring nearly 20 feet tall and 65 feet wide, Luminaire is made of thousands of colorful glass light bulbs and over 33 pounds of Swarovski Crystal Rocks, all mounted on a wooden framework of elaborate arches that recall the majestic Renaissance facades of Venetian palazzos. Despite it's massive size, the installation is delicate and ghostly, and acts as a subdued reference to the large scale lighting installations found at celebrations and religious feasts that are part of Italy's cultural heritage.
This architectural apparition is a fittingly dramatic entryway to Monditalia, the story of Italy as told by Koolhaas through ancient and modern architecture, as well as an exploration of the current political landscape against the backdrop of the country's richly storied artistic history. Following a reproduction of a historic map through long hallways, the visitor is presented with architectural displays paired with performances of film, music, and dance to create a journey through the heart of Italian culture.
Luminaire was constructed by a family-run traditional workshop in Puglia and is in itself a glittering reflection of an illuminated Biennale, where this year the emphasis on the history of architecture and architectural culture has been renewed, and the established order of contemporary architecture is questioned and chronicled after a century of Modernity.
Photography by OMA