Rem Koolhaas uses architecture, dance and film
to represent the "current condition of Italy"

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Venice Architecture Biennale 2014: Rem Koolhaas explains the concept behind his Monditalia exhibition, in which dancers and musicians perform amongst the architectural exhibits, in the second part of our video interview filmed in Venice.

Monditalia exhibition by Rem Koolhaas at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014

Filling the length of the 300-metre-long Arsenale in Venice, which visitors enter through a dramatic entrance consisting of thousands of glass bulbs and Swarovski crystals, Monditalia aims to represent the state of Italian architecture throughout the peninsular.

Rem Koolhaas
Rem Koolhaas

"I exploited the length of the Arsenale and the length of Italy and basically cut it in parts so that, starting from the south, you get a sense of the condition of this country," Koolhaas explains. "You see a range of 80 movies and 40 architectural projects that represent a scan of Italy."

Monditalia exhibition by Rem Koolhaas at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014

Dotted along the Arsenale, amongst the architecture projects and video clips projected on screens suspended from the ceiling, are a series of areas dedicated to the performing arts.

"It is not occupied entirely by architecture," Koolhaas says. "It mobilises dance, theatre, music and film."

Monditalia exhibition by Rem Koolhaas at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014

The exhibition focuses on Italy's political and economic landscape as much as its built environment. Koolhaas believes the country can be seen as a microcosm for much of the western world.

"I think Italy is obviously an amazing country with an amazing history and an enormous potential, but at this moment it has difficulty to realise that potential," he says. "In that sense it's very similar to the Netherlands, to Belgium, to Germany, to England."

Monditalia exhibition by Rem Koolhaas at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014

"Basically every country in the world struggles with this paradox: on the one hand [it has] unbelievable gifts, on the other hand [there is an] incapability to realise it. So [the exhibition] is not [about] Italy as an example, but Italy as a prototype of our current condition."

Monditalia exhibition by Rem Koolhaas at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014

Koolhaas also curated the Elements exhibition at the biennale's Central Pavilion, which focusses on architectural components such as elevators and escalators.

Follow Dezeen's coverage of the Venice Architecture Biennale »

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    Rem clicked the spaghetti-western kamikaze button.

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  • The Knife Thrower

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