“Station Russia,” Russian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2018, delves into the notions of exploring the past, present and future of the Russian railways. In an environment which is in parts uninhabitable, to the extent that roads cannot be built, railways have become the lifeblood of the largest country in the world. “Station Russia” explores how they, and the people who use them, negotiate the vast and often empty expanse of the Russian landscape.
In a new exhibition conceived and created for the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale, the Russian pavilion has been transformed into a train station. Within its five ‘Halls’, contemporary Russian architects, designers and artists use sound and multimedia installations, as well as photographs, models and artefacts, to explore the past of the network and to present their vision of its future.
The exhibition is supported by JSC Russian Railways, whose involvement reflects its pivotal role in maintaining the strategic importance of the Russian railway network. The focus of the exhibition forms a parallel with the history of the Russian Pavilion itself, which was inaugurated in 1914. The building’s designer, Alexey Shchusev, was also responsible for the Kazansky Railway Station – the Moscow terminus of the line which first connected the capital with Ryazan, in the south east of the country, and beyond, to Kazakhstan and central Asia.
The first hall of the Pavilion demonstrates the complexity of the railway system that spreads throughout Russia’s vast empty spaces and multiple time zones. An infographic installation by Russian artist Arden Vald presents the country’s railways as both its circulatory system - its living, vital veins - and as its backbone, supplying crucial connectivity for the Russian populous, who depend on this form of transport as the only way to navigate an often formidable landscape. In the central hall of the Pavilion, The Architectural Depot showcases plans and models of train stations past and present, such as the renovated station at Sochi (Studio 44, Architect: Nikita Yavein) and the proposed High Speed Rail connecting Moscow to Kazan (Metrogiprotrans, Architect: Nikolai Shumakov).
The Waiting Hall of the Future presents two projects dedicated to the future of habitable development surrounding train stations: a showcase of proposed developments around one of the busiest railway termini squares in central Moscow. In The Crypt of Memories, the walls of the Pavilion’s lower gallery are lined with steel cabinets, mimicking a traditional luggage room. The final hall of the Pavilion brings the significance of the railway in Russia full circle, with a short-film by director Daniil Zinchenko.
Founder: Louise Blouin