Tuesday, 9 December 2008

We got the invitation to participate in the Venice Biennale 2000. The director of the Biennale architect Massimilliano Fuksas wanted us to realize an architectural installation commenting on the theme of the exhibition: Citta Less Aesthetics, More Ethics.

What we wanted was to have an industrial ship and plant a forest inside. Then sail with this ship from Finland to Venice. Our biologist frieds told us that the vegetation would die somewhere around the Biskaya Bay, the climate change would bee too big. "Trees don´t sail."

We ended up in North-Italy with a van with our mobile working crew and started to look after a ship. Eventually we found a barge in the port of Chioggia, some 50 km south of Venice. The barge "Topogigio" was abandoned and filled with dirt and water. We could work with this.
All the materials are recycled or borrowed. Even the trees. This is a temporary collage of material streams.

Massimilliano Fuksas wanted us to have the Golden Lion of the Biennale. The jury voted against him and gave it Jean Nouvel.

Big reward after 7 weeks of work was to sail with the forest and open it up as a public park in Venice.
60 Minute Man is an architectonic installation by Finnish architects Casagrande & Rintala for the Venice Biennale 2000. In the work Casagrande & Rintala had planted an oak forest into an abandoned barge on top of 60 minutes worth of biologically cleaned and composted human waste from the city of Venice. [1]

New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp chose the 60 Minute Man his personal favourite of the biennale. [2]

Whitney's Floating Island
A similar work was realized by the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York 2005. The museum claims the work to be a realization of sketches of Robert Smithson done three years before he died in a plane crash in 1973. [3]

^ [1] - Adam Mornament: When Attitude Becomes Form Contemporary -magazine 2003
^ [2] - New York Times 2000
^ [3] - Randy Kennedy: It's Not Easy Making Art That Floats New York Times September 16, 2005



The most evocative work of the group of Finnish architects is Sixty-Minute Man. For this installation they reutilize a 34-meter hull found abandoned in the Venice lagoon.

The wreck is just one of the thousands of vessels abandoned in the seas of the world. It suggests the creation of a new, living, completely different space from this abandoned place, transforming it into a garden of floating oaks, symbolizing the archaic way of life in the history of Italian art.

This park has been planted on 60 minutes worth of human waste produced by the city of Venice.

A park is planted on the refuse produced in one hour by the city of Venice, symbolizing the importance of the role of the architect as a solver of real problems in the contemporary city.

The recycled materials are combined and become a landscape in movement. The suspended houses simulate the becoming of architecture, the movement in fact was only figurative, in Sixty-Minute Man architecture takes on a deeper meaning, symbolizing the possibility of movement of resources between different places that may enter or re-enter into contact with one another through the natural territory.

The 22 oaks transform an abandoned place into a natural landscape. Only the leaves of the trees are partially visible outside the vessel, one cannot get a complete perception of the park until one boards the ship. From the access bridge one has an entire view of the space, but not the perception of its real size. As in a natural landscape it is not possible to read the limits, the landscape seems to extend outward, infinitely, behind the first structural partition of the wreck. From the deck it is possible to descend and walk through the trees.

The spaces thus created isolate the natural landscape artificially re-created in the lagoon landscape. The gaze opens toward the horizon, in this way the attention is concentrated on a new approach to the problems of green areas for seaside cities. A strong link is established between the earthbound landscape and the lagoon area.

The garden is a public space whose dimensions extends through the movement of the boat. The garden on the vessel territorializes the sea: "an installation that demonstrates how architecture can be a laboratory for rethinking the ethical values of urban planning. An ecological vision in which art and architecture combine their possibilities.

Text first published in Artscapes / Art as an approach to contemporary landscapes, Land&ScapeSeries. Book by Luca Galofaro,
Barcelona 2003.
Building the 60 Minute Man took around 7 weeks from our crew of 15 people. The works was done in Chioggia, some 50 km south of Venice.