US Pavilion: Test Case, or Warning?
“The genius of a man, who thinks he has discovered the formal truths, reconciles the truths that kill with the truths that authorize killing.” – René Char
Walls, ceilings, stairs, columns, doors, windows, frames, roof, details; although there are no major stairs in the US Pavilion, it’s only fitting that the architects of record, William Adams Delano and Chester Holmes Aldrich, followed, to some degree, the Palladian system for building. Not only because the host city is Venice—which is of course Palladio’s city—but also since such a reference harkens back to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, itself a Palladian Villa. But, would it be correct to say that the US, and its pavilion today bespeaks a Jeffersonian vision of yeoman farmers, non-interventionism, and most importantly, a deep weariness toward government, and the demand to constantly be on guard for its possible corruption?
Who is to say, but in light of the very recent scandals—and their related political theatrics—that currently mire the Obama Administration—from the alleged Benghazi “cover-up,” to the selective use of the Internal Revenue Service to target political rivals, to the surveillance of the Associated Press, to the proliferation of drone attacks, to the unprecedented whistleblower prosecutions, and general lack of prosecutions against financial institutions, not to mention the hopefully dwindling War in Afghanistan—it would be hard to say that the national pavilion, and the government that it represents, does not stand as a symbol for a new kind of perpetual vigilance. Unlike the Jeffersonian ideals though, wherein the citizenry is tasked with being the watchdog for wrongful government, it would seem that now is the time in which the US has inverted the right to police justly.
In any case, this text presents a paradox, as a US citizen is here allowed the voice to protest such a flipping of the roles and moreover the “rules.” To this end, the only true test for the pavilion and the nation, that is, if both are ever to return to their implicit originary values, is to check in, over the course of the Biennale, and see the peoples’ and the government’s response to said affairs. But instead of simply passing such trials, could now be the time in which we all move beyond systems of suspicion in the first place?Adam Kleinman