installation 2014 belgrade by marko salapura and igor sladoljev, video installation 2014 by srdjan keca at the la biennale di venezia- 14. mostra internazionale di architettura

the starting point for the project is the project for the museum of the revolution. vjenceslav richter's 1961 project exposé for the building of the museum starts thus:

‘the purpose and idea of this museum is to safeguard the truth about us. from this follows its extraordinary importance, which has found its confirmation in the assigned location.

the embodiment of the museum of the revolution has to express a pervasive and great idea.

our idea and the idea of us.

it is as much ours, as it is new and authentic.

new ideas arise from fundamental truths and build upon them.’

from the catalog of the exhibition:
all for one, one for all
notes on the ‘black room’

by igor sladoljev and marko salapura
...the project was initiated in 1961 in new belgrade through a national competition and charged with the task of expressing the socialist ideal, one that constitutes the ‘revolution’ of the international workers movement. at the time, museums of the revolution were sprouting across yugoslavia and this one was supposed to be the centerpiece, a monumental modernist structure with the location carefully chosen to compliment new belgrade’s vision. after a decade and several attempts to better the scheme through engineering and planning concerns the construction started but was short-lived. out of the entire concrete volume only the underground level was cast and it is still there - a black box recording political vicissitudes, its causes and effects distilled to this day.
the fate of the museum of the revolution is symptomatic of the ‘when and where’ providing us with the tangible context to bear in mind while viewing the mural on the walls of the central room.

using film as a medium director sr?an ke?a traces the aftermath, leftover archeology of richter’s museum through several narratives, which are displayed in the perimeter of the pavilion as three separate projections. the first two are set against each other better to convey the duality of the space. as living quarters for a gypsy community the museum’s foundations are inhabited, while at the same time, the place is utterly invisible. this habitat, whether it is a cave, a ‘primitive hut’ or museum of the revolution reminiscence, shown alongside the tranquility of the park, nearly became the site for one of the most significant institutions of the region.

the third projection, shown separately on the opposite end of the pavilion shows an installation constructed in belgrade in 1:1 scale to the museum of the revolution, constructed by 14-14 to mark the site where the project was first intended to be built, some three hundred meters as the crow flies, from the definitive site where the construction began. in his a provisional theory of non-sites, robert smithson asserts: ‘(…) to understand this language of sites is to appreciate the metaphor between the syntactical construct and the complex of ideas, letting the former function as a three dimensional picture, which doesn’t look like a picture.’1

this ‘three dimensional picture’ of the museum of the revolution is made out of weaved cord. helium is used to stress the strings until they become lines that flutter, bend, stress and tangle, but ultimately trace the volume evocative of the richter’s iconographic design for the roof of the museum. as the medium of construction shifted from the reinforced concrete to the strings and helium, the form changed as well, fitting with smithson’s ideas of the abstract representation of the actual site, or as he himself puts it: ‘it is by this dimensional metaphor that one site can represent another site (…)’ 2

it can be said that the museum of the revolution adds to the genius loci of its intended location, even though there has been nine alternatives including the definitive one. the ephemeral nature of the 14-14 string structure makes its presence in ‘the green’ known about as much as what is left of the museum itself, completely agreeing with jane jacobs in saying: ‘you can neither lie to a neighborhood park, nor reason with it.’3 ultimately, the bond between revolution and modernity is a strong one while considering the extent to which ‘national identity has seemingly been sacrificed to modernity’4.
by igor sladoljev and marko salapura
1,2 robert smithson, the collected writings, edited by jack flam (university of california press, berkeley, california, 1966.)
3 jane jacobs, the death and life of great american cities (random house, 1961.)
4 http://www.labiennale.org/en/architecture/news/25-01.html

stills by srdjan keca