H. Jaffer Kolb – Venice Biennale 2012

This piece is an interview with Jaffer Kolb by Alek Beirig. It addresses curation of the 2012 Venice Biennale, Common Ground by David Chipperfield.

  • “…there seemed to already be a kind of intellectual project at play, and that was largely reacting against the recent history of the Biennales.”

  • “…part of the reason they wanted David […] was because they knew he would be accountable and able to raise a lot more money.”

  • “…the entire exhibition is made of two different parts. One is the International Exhibition […] and the other […] the National Pavilion.”

  • “David just kind of perpetually resisted that inclination to be cynical […] and was just like, ‘No no no no, […] we have to bring out the best in everyone who’s in it.’”

  • “…as architects, we’re used to trying to reframe our projects in the most positive light and film just gives us a kind of more aggressively regulative way of doing that, if you’re not reconstructed or self-aware enough to actually want to be self-critical.”

  • “Allison basically took all of the money we gave her, built a town hall for these people in Rome, deconstructed it, brought it to Venice, reconstructed it as a second facade for the central pavilion, in order to deconstruct it and bring it back and have it as a permanent settlement.”

  • “Part of what really drew me to this project […] was his intense desire to kind of reach out to the public and not allow the Biennale to fall under the trap that it always falls under which is basically being a showcase for architects by architects.”

  • “…she had this great idea to make these one-to-one scale white foam details pairing a detail from her building with a detail from their building.”



Joseph Bedford

Issue Editor

Joseph Bedford


Joseph Bedford

Founding Editor

Joseph Bedford


Alastair Stokes


Jaffer Kolb (New Affiliates)


Trudy Watt


Alek Beirig


Mahoney, Doron Deutsch, Johnson F Smith, Black Twig Pickers