An art and architecture exhibit in Venice is representing the history of cruise culture.
The Venice Biennale of Architecture is a regular event that gives architects and designers the opportunity to display their projects to the world and the art community. A group of curators are using this opportunity to display the past and present of cruise culture.
Cruising Pavilion is an off-site group exhibition curated by Pierre-Alexandre Mateos, Rasmus Myrup, Octave Perrault, and Charles Teyssou (seen below). The exhibition tries to express cities like Berlin which have become sexual tourist spots, and it's also depicting the history of seedy cruising spots and the present/future of app culture.
The exhibition is located in Guidecca, a southwestern spot next to Il Redentore, a 16th-century Catholic church. In addition, the exhibition is located near the Garden of Eden, a formerly popular cruising spot.
As for the exhibition space itself, it is designed like a dark room. Architectural displays and art pieces are presented around the room to enhance the atmosphere of a dark room (and vice versa). The only light to the room is low-lit red light bulbs that act as a nod to the theme.
As for the architectural and art designs, they too were picked to depict cruise culture.
Visitors of the exhibition are first met with a sign that’s a reproduction of one that hung in the now closed New York BDSM club, the Mineshaft.
The sign lists out a dress code with multiple “do nots” including no cologne, no suits, no ties, no dress pants, and more. That said, the sign isn’t a complete replica, as the imitation’s font was copied from that of a former New York sauna called the West Side Club.
Plus, the sculpture Crusiing Labyrinth by Andreas Angelikdakis even goes so far as to include takeaway instruction sheets with the line, “Every hole has a goal!” These sheets give how-to instructions for making dark rooms.
But the architectural project wasn’t all urinals and gloryholes (though there were certainly a lot of those). Some of the displays also expressed the shift in cruising culture after the rise of the internet.
A vintage French Minitel machine is installed in Cruising Pavilion’s entry in an incoherent timeline of cruising communications. France’s telephone modem-driven computer device launched in the 1980s was the site of gay chat rooms and two-way communication.
They also shared information about a documentary that expressed the rise of Grindr:
Andrés Jaque’s Intimate Strangers documentary picks up the torch and traces the rise of Grindr from its early days in 2009 as “Near Buddy Finder” to its present platform where users have splintered into hyper-specific “tribes” of interest and identity in an app now crowded with advertising. Visitors can watch it on a laptop on an inflatable mattress, one more nod to the raw interior spaces of dark rooms.
If you’re in Venice right now, you can go check out this cruising architectural exhibit. That said, the exhibit won’t last for long. After the end of the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale, the project will pack up and move on to a new location.
Where? No one knows yet, but isn’t that the fun of cruising culture anyway?
h/t: The Architect's Newspaper