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SO? selected as the Pavilion of Turkey Curators at the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale

May 20 - November 26, 2023

The owners of the Istanbul-based studio SO? Architecture and Ideas, Sevince Bayrak and Oral Göktaş, have been chosen to curate the Turkish Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia 2023.

The installation, titled Ghost Stories: Carrier Bag Theory of Architecture, asks how architects may alter structures rather than knocking them down or abandoning them to their fate in order to disclose enticing ideas for the future. The show will run from 20 May to 26 November 2023, with the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) serving as the event’s coordinator.

In order to suggest more realistic results, The Pavilion seeks to spark a discussion about the assumptions people make about structures. Aslı Çiçek, Prof. Dr. Ayşen Savaş, Neyran Turan, Han Tümertekin, and Ertuğ Uçar of the selection committee claim that the proposal was chosen for its cross-scale range, from building to urbanism, and ability to address the current issue of historic construction being threatened by growing urbanization and obsolescence.

As a “laboratory of the future,” pieces from Turkey’s collection of modern structures will be on exhibit to explore various reuse options and preservation strategies. Based on Ursula K. Le Guin’s book The Carrier Bag Theory, the exhibition advises paying attention to abandoned buildings’ stories rather than those of heroic buildings perched on pedestals. Additionally, we must draw strength from the dramatic change that has occurred in the last 20 years in the realm of architecture.

The work of SO? Architecture and Ideas has been featured in publications around the world. They have won the invited competition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the Young Architects Program by MoMA/PS1. The studio was one of the contenders for the 2019 Architectural Review Emerging Architecture Award and has been shortlisted for the Mies and Aga Khan Awards. Recent projects by Sevince Bayrak and Oral Göktaş in the city of Istanbul include the cultural hub Beylikduzu Ataturk Arts as well as the conversion of a swimming pool and a hangar into a public hall.

The Laboratory of the Future is the theme chosen by curator Lesley Lokko for the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. The curators they have chosen have also been revealed by other nations. The United States Pavilion’s curators, SPACES, will be looking at plastic’s role “both literally and as a cultural metaphor”; Germany’s curators, ARCH+ and Summacumfemmer Büro Juliane Greb, will be looking at repair and maintenance; and Faysal Tabbarah will be looking at the potential of the UAE pavilion’s dry landscape.