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When anti-monumentality is remarkable

To mark the International Day of Architecture, theNational Film Board of Canada (NFB) has been showing the short film on its website since October 5 Open-air portrait of a pavilion in Venice. A documentary by director and cinematographer Katerine Giguère, daughter of Franco-Albertan documentary maker Sylvie Van Brabant.

Katerine Giguère, director and cinematographer of the documentary Open air, portrait of a pavilion in Venice. She is the daughter of Franco-Albertan documentary filmmaker Sylvie Van Brabant. Credit: Courtesy ONF

Melody Charest

It was with her Franco-Albertan grandmother that Katerine discovered Italy for the first time at the age of 15. Almost a decade and a half later, she returned there, but to make a documentary on the Canadian pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

Built in 1957, the building, little known to the general public, has for decades been embodied as a “platform for artists and architects; it’s a voice, ”says the Montrealer. Renowned artists, such as the painter Jean-Paul Riopelle or the sculptor Shary Boyle, exhibited their works in this pavilion which is an architectural work in itself.

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The soul of the pavilion

He is a voice for artists, but also for Canada, which finds a way to share “their culture and their vision of the world” among its 28 other neighboring countries.

The architects who designed the Canadian pavilion. This is the BBPR group, a group of Italian architects who designed the Canadian pavilion. This decision by the Canadian government at the time to hire this group to design and build the project was a diplomatic choice, for some, and an intellectual choice, for others. Credit: Courtesy ONF.

The anti-monumentality and the marriage of Italian architectural elements with Canadian culture attract the attention of several experts. But for Katerine Giguère, who devoted two years to the film, it is the feeling that the pavilion leaves that mark her the most. “When you enter, already there, you feel in the presence of an energy. That is to say that the pavilion brings us towards oneself; he is round, he is surrounded by nature; it is harmonious; it is on a human scale ”.

The word that best describes the Canadian pavilion, for Katerine Giguère, is “presence”. This is how the building is embodied as a work of art, as an installation that allows visitors to experience a different relationship to space. Credit: Courtesy ONF.