Life of the Party: Chronology of a Venetian Architecture Soirée

by Jesse Seegers

*Names have been abbreviated to protect the identity of certain individuals.

The following chronology begins with our initial desire to organize an event during the opening of the 12th International Venice Architecture Biennale. The biannual congress is the largest and most significant gathering of architects in the world. However, attendance alone is only one part of the legitimization of one’s architectural credibility. Truly legitimate organizations host an event at the Venice Biennale to prove their importance, ability to attract influential figures, and financial capability to rent a palatial Venetian villa for a night or two. Attracting the attendance of architects from all over the world stands as a tacit approval of your mission, as well as an opportunity for everyone to imbibe and socialize.

Below is a description of one such event at the 12th International Venice Architecture Biennale, from conception to execution:

July 20, 2010, 4:04 PM
Initial event concept proposed by JS via email to JI.

9:45 PM
Face-to-face communication with JI at Studio-X NY Volume 24 party about possible Venetian event. Discussion includes potential use of (empty) Dutch pavilion on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday evening, and possible collaborations with face b and Belgian DJ friends. Enthusiasm abounds for a secret, late-night, and “unofficial” official Volume/C-Lab party, while concrete plans still elude.

July 31, 2010, 11:32 AM
Archis (publisher of Volume magazine) sends e-newsletter, including announcement of discussion between Volume editors RK, MW, JI, and AO on Saturday, August 28th. Archis uses Venice film biennale logo (see image). The C-Lab/Archis/Volume “academic” biennale program is in place.

August 18, 2010, 5:21 PM
JI emails JS to inquire about event: place/time/details. All still unconfirmed, tentative plans for late night after-party following PIN-UP/Architizer party on Thursday, August 26th.

August 23, 2010, 8:06 AM
News emerges that there already is a PIN-UP/Architizer after-party and after-after-party.

August 25, 2010, 7:10 PM
Arrive at Venice Marco Polo Airport.

August 26, 2010, 11:00 AM
Informal meetings with JI, OB, and SVS. Unspoken and unspecific approval for some sort of event takes place.

10:00 PM
PIN-UP/Architizer party at the posh Hotel Bauer. Open vodka bar attracts massive crowd. Super-human Venetian bartenders serve twelve vodka tonics at a time.

11:45 PM
Trek through Venetian maze to Strelka Institute party organized by Strelka and AMO. Lots of excitement in anticipation of Russian-style opulence. Queue outside for one hour in a small alley until a security guard announces that the party is over. Even AMO employees get shut out.

August 27, 2010, 11:00 AM
More informal talks with JI, OB, SVS, and MW. Nothing resolved.

August 28, 2010, 11:00 AM
Volume magazine event starts with RK, MW, JI, AO, and OB moderating.

1:22 PM
End of Volume event in the Dutch pavilion. Final talks with JI, OB, and SVS. OB says the party cannot “officially” happen inthe Dutch pavilion. However, vacant refrigerator next to the Dutch pavilion can officially be used to store liquids.

2:30 PM
Go to Incoop supermarket on Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, between Arsenale and Giardini.

2:42 PM
Purchase eighty bottles of Birra Moretti (entire supermarket stock) for €64.00.

2:50 PM
Faced with transporting said bottles from the supermarket to Dutch refrigerator, three hours pass while hoping that Giardini-bound friends happen to walk by. Friends appear (first BI, then BG, SB, DM and NC, and NS, who all deserve enormous gratitude). After three hours and six trips using ubiquitous biennale tote bags, all bottles arrive in refrigerator.

6:00 PM
Skip the Golden Lion announcement in which Rem announces, “It is a really wonderful moment to get a lifetime achievement award in the middle of my career.” Go to nearby Parco delle Rimembranze to search for power outlet for speakers. Find perfectly situated kiosk with a working outlet.

7:00 PM
Back at the Dutch pavilion, meet LG, the Armenian film student temporarily employed as the Dutch pavilion guard. A number of younger biennale-goers come and ask “I heard there’s a party here tonight, is that true?” Tell them “1:09, don't be late,” and continue talking to LG. After some negotiation, acquire the spare key to the Dutch pavilion. Express understanding and gratitude, go home to shower and change for the Guggenheim party.

8:45 PM
Guggenheim party: One of the classiest of the biennale parties. In the Peggy Guggenheim building in Dorsoduro—good wine, mountains of cheese cubes, Frank Gehry is present, Jean Nouvel leaves (escapes?) by water taxi (or at least he did two years ago), etc.

9:14 PM
As many people as possible are told about the event: 1:09 AM sharp, Dutch pavilion in the Giardini, enter behind the German pavilion, tell all your friends.

9:45 PM
Guggenheim-hired security guards usher everyone out (at first nicely, then aggressively) and a crowd gathers outside the museum entry. Lots of talk about what to do next, where is the party? Where is dinner? Gradually more and more people start murmuring, “We're going to the 1:09 party, at the Dutch pavilion, in the Giardini!” Everyone outside has uttered or heard “1:09, see you there?” Anticipation for the party builds. Location still to be determined...

11:30 PM
People start arriving at the Giardini. Fearing a riot once everyone arrives to the non-party without music or alcohol, attempts to reason with the security guard ensue. “Listen, my stupid friend told everyone that there was a party inside the Giardini, and if I don't get the alcohol and speakers from inside there, you are going to have 1,000 or more angry architects, so can you just let me in?”

11:31 PM
Security guard doesn't speak English.

11:40 PM
With the help of young Italian girl who speaks English and hopes to attend the party, more attempts are made to reason with the guard. Guard needs approval from head of security. Call Commissioner of Dutch pavilion, trying to get approval. No response.

11:52 PM
At entrance to Giardini, still arguing with security guard, French face b friends walk nonchalantly (drunkenly?) out of the Giardini. Security guard opens the gate for them to exit. Look on in dumbfounded astonishment. French notice visible frustration, urge us to relax in French-inflected English: “there are lots of people inside the Giardini, no security guards inside!

August 29, 2010, 12:09 AM
Approximately thirty people from OMA show up, one hour early. More people come. Some eighty people wandering around behind Giardini, wondering where the party is, getting annoyed. They attract the attention of the polizia, who come to the entrance of the Giardini and tell everyone to leave. One hour until the party starts.

12:10 AM
Sneak into park behind German pavilion with French contingent. Frenchies grab beer, run away with newfound treasure. Take speaker from Dutch pavilion to Parco delle Rimembranze for power supply in kiosk.

12:20 AM
Outlet doesn't have power. Must find power for speakers and alternate party location within 49 minutes...

12:50 AM
Move speakers from Parco delle Rimembranze to just outside Giardini entrance, where some people gathered with music earlier in the evening. Nineteen minutes to party start. JDS calls and announces the imminent arrival of 300 people.

1:09 AM
Speakers powered, Birra Moretti surfacing near speakers, about 200 people approaching, start playing LCD Soundsystem's Drunk Girls and all within audible distance start dancing. The party officially begins.

3:32 AM
face b editors and other French architects/publishers/DJs go swimming in the Venetian lagoon (see image).

4:25 AM
Yoshiharu Tsukamoto arrives with bottles of Prosecco, attempts to hit streetlamp while uncorking bottles (see image).

5:52 AM
End of party. JI leaves for Zurich, calls JS three times in a row asking, “How did it go? Sounds like a fun party! Can you hear me? I'm getting on a plane! Sounds like fun!”

9:49 AM
Receive SMS from SB: “Morning Honey! Good news: ur music was so loud Piazza San Marco lions were dancing! Bad news: I have ur euro iPhone charger cable.”


photography by Dan Marino




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