The Estonian exhibition explores the contradiction between the living place as a home and as an exchange value. A succession of Estonian performers will dwell a month, individually, in a Venetian rental apartment that becomes both an abode and a stage. Everyday life, lived and performed in a duet with the apartment rolls out in front of, and among, visitors to the Biennale. Come over!
All around us are embodied the contradictions between homes and real estates, dreams and realities, tenants and owners, residents and visitors. Housing is not just about living: investment and speculation have become the primary purpose of more and more dwellings, as real estate and rental prices continue to grow. City centres are made up of ‘money columns’ where living itself has become redundant. Avoiding depreciation by limiting use leads to homes that have owners but no occupants. Elsewhere, there are residents who struggle to become owners. The sense of stability of the home as an intimate space of one’s own, a place for family history and material biography, is in contrast to the flexible and temporary nature of real estate, of rapid buy-and-sell markets – ‘home’ as disposable lifestyle product.
Home on display is a common sight. Ever looked for somewhere to live? Ever been given a tour of someone’s new place? Prospective homes are staged for us – to invite a feeling of comfort, to please us aesthetically, or even to intimidate. Or are we buying dreams? In someone’s home – a space of intimate relationships – a wider set of market relations is revealed.
Who are you? Are you a home-seeker on a house tour? A guest at a private housewarming party? An architectural explorer? A curious neighbour? An amateur investor?
Hello! Come in, come in!
Sorry, don’t mind the hallway, it’s in a constant state of renovation, but at least that will keep the place looking new! Let me show you the bedroom. Isn’t the water calming! I feel like I have all the time in the world, so relaxing… Look at the view from here! That alone is easily worth a million! Come on, come along! Bathroom! Oh yes, there was one time when all the pipes in the bathroom burst – ah, those were joyful fountains! This has all been fixed, of course – we have high-quality technical systems now! This way, let me open the door for you. Ah, the dust fluff dancing in the sunshine, ha ha – you know, the soul of the house! Let’s head back to the living room, I’m sure you’d like a drink!
Co-rents a 58 m² apartment in Tallinn. Will live in the apartment from May 17 to June 4.
Lives in a relative’s 37 m² apartment in Tallinn. Will live in the apartment from June 5 to 25.
Rents a 35 m² apartment in Viljandi. Will live in the apartment from June 26 to July 16.
Owns a 26 m² apartment in Tallinn. Will live in the apartment from July 17 to August 6.
Rents a 37 m² apartment in Tallinn. Will live in the apartment from August 7 to September 10.
Stays in a 43 m² apartment in Brussels as an unregistered short-term subtenant. Will live in the apartment from September 11 to October 15.
Lives in her boyfriend’s 45 m² apartment in Tallinn. Will live in the apartment from May 17 to 23 and October 16 to 25.
Owns a 28,9 m² apartment in Tallinn but is still paying the loan. Will live in the apartment from October 25 to November 5.
Rents a 11 m² apartment in Tallinn, pays 300 € per month for rent. Will live in the apartment from November 6 to 26.
Aet Ader, Arvi Anderson, Mari Möldre (b210 Architects)
Liisa Saaremäel, Keithy Kuuspu
Arolin Raudva, Keithy Kuuspu, Kirill Havanski, Anumai Raska, Külli Teetamm, Eline Selgis, Paula Veidenbauma, Liisa Saaremäel, Johhan Rosenberg
Kertin Vasser, Arvi Anderson
b210, Jan Kaus
Liisa Lotta Kask, Arabella Aabrams, Darja Gužovskaja, Elisabeth Teener, Inna Tarakanova, Katrin Lang, Laura Pormeister, Maria Elise Remme, Maryn-Liis Rüütelmaa, Mia Maripuu, Paula Lorence, Sebastian Talmar, Triin Vaino, Tuule Kangur, Daniela Privis, Saskia Krautman, Aliisa Leena Marjatta Rantanen, Karl Robert Timm
Raul Järg, Estonian Centre for Architecture (ECA)
Anna Lindpere, Anu Lill (ECA)
Stina Pley (ECA)
Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Estonian Ministry of Culture
Luca Berta (VeniceArtFactory)
Eik Hermann, Viljar Arakas, Karin Tõugu, Mari Hunt, Katrin Koov, Kristian Taaksalu, Nele Šverns, Tõnu Narro, Märt Vaidla, Johann Möldre, Liisi Tamm, Roman-Sten Tõnissoo, Margus Palu, Triin Männik, Virve Õunapuu, Priit Keskra, Carl-Robert Kagge, Lembit Anderson, Laur Kaunissaare, Jaak Ader, Merike Kaunissaare, Tiit Kaunissaare, Mikk Pärast, Sten Eltermaa, Maria Arusoo, Roberto Caruso
Why do people say, “make yourself at home”? No one actually expects that. It’s nothing anybody wants. You mean I should show up at someone’s home and pull off my socks or my stockings and toss them into a corner? Scratch myself somewhere unsavory? Pick a booger and roll it into a ball right in front of my host? Maybe head to that polite person’s fridge and start poking through its contents, drinking milk straight from the carton? You don’t do that when you’re a guest – unless, of course, you’re at your significant other’s the day before moving in together. It’d be far more apt to say, “Welcome! Make yourself a guest!” Be a guest and don’t forget it for a minute, okay? If you’re overcome with boredom here and feel a yawn coming on, then suppress it or at least cover your mouth. You could, all in all, consider whom you came to visit. “When in Rome,” as the saying goes. Act the way guests act when you’re a guest and not in your own home. This here is my property, a fact more or less equivalent to the theatrical fourth wall. The boundary is invisible, search as high or low as you please, but if you do start looking, then you’re sure to bump against it. Best to not even try. I might as well just throw you the hell out if you start making yourself at home, you hear? Send you packing to your own place where you can make yourself whatever you wish – at home, for all I care.
People have always liked to imagine inanimate things as animate. I don’t believe that objects and places have souls, but if I were made to propose what kinds of items could be living, then I’d say socks. Yet in that case, socks’ souls would be unlike those of humans. Ancient Greeks toyed with the idea that the basis of love is this: long ago, every human had four arms, four legs, and two heads. Then, Zeus split the arrogant creature in two with a lightning bolt. The halves have been seeking each other ever since. There’s a certain degree of logic to the allegory, because people do enjoy thinking and acting in pairs – there are two identical beds in the bedroom, two armchairs in the living room, two sinks in the bathroom. Anyway, I meant to talk about socks. Socks are dubious couples: they’re sold in pairs and connected by a durable plastic strip, but as soon as you cut that strip in half, the socks instantly try to flee from each other; to forcefully part. Socks are like cats – they prefer to walk alone. Most times, they use a washing machine for their getaway. The inside of a washing machine is truly a mysterious place: like a cave through which one sock slips away to the netherworld. A portal to an alternate reality that is inhabited by millions of lone socks. A world where couples are forbidden; where every house has just one bed, one armchair, one sink. I’m sure all those socks are extremely happy there in their solitude.
It’s becoming more and more popular to knock down walls in homes. If it isn’t load-bearing, then down with it. All to make the space more spacious; to create air, room to breathe. For instance, many homes no longer have a wall separating the kitchen and the living room. You could do the same here. There are even baths at the foot of the beds in some particularly modern hotels – why not in one’s own home as well? So, down with walls wherever at all possible. But when walls are leveled in one place, they rise again in another. Even if you can’t see them. Walls have been springing up around facades in particular. They support ceilings, sure, but are also the type not made from building materials – like those of welfare. Invisible walls that partition cities like a butcher with a hock of meat. Not chopping away, but walling in. If you want to get to the other side of that wall, then you’ll have to climb over, and it’s no cakewalk – scaling the Great Wall of China would be easier. The walls generally have no doors and even if they do, then they’re the kind no ordinary key will open. And who holds the key? They claim you should look around the market to find it. But where, exactly? Who can say? Maybe it’s where the market begins and ends, but maybe the key is the market itself, and that can’t be slipped into a pocket. Thus, you can’t say for sure that the market’s limits are reachable in the first place. Walls make up the market, of course, but its existence rests upon none of them.
Everything grows, doesn’t it? Trees grow, grass grows. Children grow, faster than you could ever imagine. Life expectancy is growing – how couldn’t it? The average life span – that’s great! Though it is growing less for men than for women. And the number of healthy years lived could grow faster, too. Cases of chronic illnesses are growing along with it. The growth of cancer patients is constant. Luckily, the rate of recoveries is growing as well. And yet, when you’re healthy, you stare out the window and think about rising dangers, floods, the frequency of every imaginable environmental catastrophe in general, the strength of storms, the speed of winds. There’s no point even mentioning growing prices, of course. Eggs cost more today than they did yesterday. Milk costs more. Sometimes prices don’t grow, but spike. They rise like lifts in skyscrapers. Somewhere, someone’s profits are growing because for others, for people like me, bills are growing. The bills tower overhead. I can’t say how long I’ll manage to keep this apartment. I should start doing what everybody’s been talking about: cutting back, shrinking.
But no, don’t get me wrong – the apartment is nice. Fantastic location. It’s got my recommendation! Beautiful floors, just gorgeous. Old, sound beams running across the ceiling. I’m sure we can come to an agreement if you’re interested!
Dust and I had an agreement. Seeing as how it’s adept at dividing (an enviable ability) and likes to collect everywhere, I offered to grant it total dominion over one room where it can do whatever it pleases. To relinquish one part of my apartment to it, even though I could easily use the space as a guest room. Something I could rent out for a minor monthly monetary bonus. Or a place for a friend to stay, as I’m not in dire need of money. Not to say there couldn’t always be more of it. In any case, I told the dust to move into that room and leave me alone, because I’m sick of dealing with you day in, day out. It seemed to take me up on my offer at first, moving in and curling up into a comfortable ball. The dust hasn’t let me step foot in there for years. But do you think that was the end of it? Maybe for the dust, sure, but not for me. Dust is like a giant corporation or an aggressor – you strike a deal but it still finds ways to deceive you, outsmart you, overpower you somehow. I have to clean my apartment every day. Every day. They say the rats and cockroaches will survive a nuclear holocaust. I’m convinced that dust will, too, and it’ll even outlive the cockroaches and the rats. And the planet. The solar system. The whole universe. The future belongs to dust.
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At the – very real – Venetian home where Home Stage takes place, an innovative Estonian company, ThinFacility, demonstrates cutting edge building monitoring and energy management technologies. The ThinFacility solution enables us to improve the efficiency of our existing buildings by monitoring the indoor climate and energy consumption and applying smart controls.
Why? Because just as there is a potential conflict between seeing houses as homes for living and seeing them as real estate investment, there is also a difference in energy consumption between modern and older buildings – ThinFacility can reduce that.
Our pavilion visitor can check the current air quality of a room by scanning the QR code on the wall. ThinFacility also offers a building energy efficiency analytics solution, so the electrical consumption of the home can be checked in real time and analysed over time.