Venice, 1996

Oratorio di San Ludovico, Venice
Initiated by the Public Art Commissions Agency
Curated by Nuova Icona Gallery for the 6th Biennale of Architecture of Venice
Funded by the British Council, The Arts Council of England, West Midlands Arts, IRE Venezia

Host was an art-architecture collaborative installation initiated by the Public Art Commissions Agency and curated by Nuova Icona Gallery for the 6th Biennale of Architecture of Venice.

In collaboration with architect Pierre d’Avoine, Ackroyd & Harvey created a series of sculptural works in the Nuova Icona Gallery, a living installation in the disused Oratorio di San Ludovico, and an interactive street artwork.

Inspired by the beauty, decay and constantly changing nature of Venice itself, the team created an exhibition that represented aspects of both technology and nature through organic, inorganic, natural and synthetic materials.

“We imagine the city as an organism constantly changing and transforming itself. Venice itself is a reminder, an instrument of meditation on the beauty of decay and the relentless passage of time. We are told that it is literally being submerged by the sea. Disappearing from view it becomes a symbol of introversion. It is no longer the materially powerful hub of an expanding empire yet it has colonised the western imagination and draws from us a complexity of responses to its perceived plight. We propose a series of sculpture which vigorously express the often contradictory and destabilising forces at work on and within the seemingly static and solid. A variety of materials will be used in the assembly and fabrication of these constructions, organic, inorganic, natural and synthetic.”

“Water is the key perturbatory element.”

“We imagine the sculptures will transform, some growing, some eroding during the course of the exhibition. These changes will be documented. The work will become simultaneously wholesome, noxious, edible, toxic, valuable and worthless.”
(Extracts from statement by Ackroyd, d’Avoine and Harvey April 1996)

Host simultaneously merges traditional design territories, and redefines the relationship between art and architecture. The shared intent trans-substantiates disciplines, and repositions the notion of collaboration at the centre of artistic practice.”
(Extract from Vivien Lovell’s introduction to Host catalogue)