After six months of the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale directed by Rem Koolhaas, the doors closed on 23 November. The closure of a Biennale is normally overlooked but it is only by starting from the end and working backwards, like a salmon swimming against the current, that we can see more exhaustively how things went.
Between 5 June and 23 November, in the English language alone, there were approximately 60,000 posts and articles, based on data from VOICES from the Blogs, a spin-off and start-up of Milan University that analyzes the virtual world day by day.
The first fact emerging from this analysis of social preferences is that it was the national participations (47%) that won visitors’ hearts this year, whereas 26.7% of posts focus expressly on the spaces curated by the director Rem Koolhaas: the Central Pavilion with “Elements of Architecture” and “Monditalia”. The remaining 26.3% speak of the event in general terms.
We know for a fact that people liked this year’s Biennale although there were some disappointments. Those expressing their views on the Venice Biennale 2014 via the Internet particularly liked its multidisciplinary nature (18.5%) which generated a debate that crossed the boundaries of architecture to draw in culture, politics and history. Many appreciated the Collateral Events (13.5%) in the broadest sense, i.e. Biennale activities outside the Giardini and Arsenale. The positive views were influenced, among other things, by the unique “location” of Venice. The logo was also popular (6.5%) as were the Biennale’s graphic design, books and catalogues in general.
Certain expectations do, however, appear to have been partially disappointed. The provocative comment “Rem is dead?” (59.7%) appeared in more than half the negative comments. To a lesser degree, dissatisfaction small and great was expressed with regard to the national pavilions (29.4%) and “Monditalia” (10.8%).
Of the Biennale’s two largest spaces, the Giardini attracted more attention (and more comments) (58.4%) than the Arsenale this year. In the case of the Giardini, the clear leader in the debate was the Central Pavilion and its “Elements of Architecture”, the exhibition curated by Koolhaas (15.5%). Next comes the Japan Pavilion (6.6%) which – albeit by little – beat the winner of the Golden Lion (the Korea Pavilion). Then come France (6%), Australia (5.8%) and Germany (5%). Despite their special mentions, the Canadian (4.3%) and Russian (3.5%) participations fall at the bottom of the group.
Using data from VOICES from the Blogs, Novozhilova analyzed the 60,000 English-language online posts about the biennale that appeared on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, and various websites between June 5 and November 23. “This is the social ranking of the 2014 Biennale, based on personal and sometimes idiosyncratic opinions, naturally,” she wrote of her report. “As a whole, however, it speaks of a successful Biennale, with a great deal of light and the odd small shadow.”