Scotland + Venice: The Happenstance

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Scotland + Venice: The critically acclaimed The Happenstance – Scotland’s contribution to the 16th international Architecture exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia – led by WAVEparticle – enters a new phase at the start of July.

Following a successful opening period with extremely positive feedback both from the local community and the international architecture media , The Happenstance armature (the structure designed and built by Baxendale Studio) passed into the ownership of the Armenian College at Palazzo Zenobio, to continue to provide a “freespace” for the local Venetian community and for visitors to the city.

The Happenstance programme will include regular Outdoor Cinema screenings in the garden of Palazzo Zenobio for the duration of the Biennale (November 2018). The exhibition outlining the work of the selected team of Scottish artists and architects will travel back to Scotland to open at Glasgow’s Lighthouse at the end of August.  You can watch some of the film output from Venice here.

If you are planning to visit The Happenstance in Venice please make sure that you check for the latest event programme. Entry to the space will be controlled by the management of Palazzo Zenobio and opening hours may vary – watch this space for further developments.

About The Happenstance 

Venice: Scotland is represented as a collateral event at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition at the Biennale di Venezia.  To engage with the Biennale Architettura 2018 theme of Freespace, and to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Young People (YOYP), the project The Happenstance, started in Scotland with an exploration of how young people in Scotland respond to Freespace.

The Happenstance brings together artists and architects to work with young people nationwide to discover what Freespace means to them and their communities, before presenting a ‘living library of ideas’ to Venice in May – June 2018.

The lead artists/curators WAVEparticle’s methodology explores what can be built through mapping connections, connecting needs and resources, and in connecting ideas of Freespace in both Scotland and Venice. Their proposal is supported and promoted by the Scotland + Venice partnership: Scottish Government, Architecture and Design Scotland, Creative Scotland, British Council and the Year of Young People/Young Scot.

The Happenstance - Peter McCaughey explores free space

The Art of Happenstance
by Peter McCaughey, Lead Artist, WAVEparticle

A Living Library of Ideas. A Workshop of Tools. A City of Propositions

We are exploring how public space, non-space, stalled space and civic space all have the potential to change and grow, depending on how we choose to occupy them. We cite various ideas that are homegrown and developed in Scotland, a country interested in grassroots, community-led processes that inform emerging places. We are demonstrating what can be built through mapping connections, bringing together needs, resources and ideas of Freespace in both Scotland and Venice.

Creating a Freespace in Venice

The Happenstance establishes a Freespace in the garden at the heart of Palazzo Zenobio in Venice  to host all-comers, inviting locals, visitors, participants and our core team to build new possibilities together for the freedoms we urgently need to claim. The space acts as an active archive (A Living Library of Ideas), focussed on the event nature of live situations – exploring how we can intervene in our own lives and the circumstances that shape us.

Our team of Artists and Architects are experts in play, in exploring the spaces in-between. We encourage everyone into a vital relationship with the built environment, using play as an active agent within the process of rethinking and reclaiming their Freespace.

Focus on Young People

At the heart of Zenobio you will find a focus on young people, their capacities, their needs and their imagination, harnessed to empower this energy in all of us. As an engine for change, our garden is fuelled by the untrammelled imagination of the younger generations.

Our live, dynamic programme includes animating other spaces out in the city, like the Island of Poveglia, the subject of a community buyout, Poveglia Per Tutti. Likewise our Outdoor Cinema screenings focus on inspiring examples of individuals, organisations and situations that underscore this year’s Biennale theme.

We have a proposition for the visitor to our garden – expect to get lucky!

This is the art of Happenstance.



Main Image: The Nettle Inn – Lee Ivett (Baxendale)
Peter McCaughey image by Basharat Khan.

Click here for video/trailer by Film maker Basharat Khan ( Bash Art Creative)


Scotland + Venice: Happenstance Contributors

The Happenstance: Dispatch 6

Play: Brian Hartley. Play as a spontaneous and creative process, and how it opens vital conversations and actions.

The Happenstance: Dispatch 11

The Happenstance: a Lively Scottish-Venetian freespace: Phineas Harper. The engagement of the Venetians to the “open to all” of The Happenstance.

The Happenstance: Dispatch 10

A Conversation, a Workshop and Afterwards: Elizabeth Murphy and Emily Speed. Teams are able to make something much bigger, layered and profound.

The Happenstance: Dispatch 9

Participatory Practice: Ian Gilzean. How participation and community empowerment inspires people to realise their creativity and sense of ownership.

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