Níall McLaughlin and Yeoryia Manolopoulou are representing Ireland at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition with Losing Myself. The exhibition is open to the public until Sunday 27 November 2016 at the Giardini and the Arsenale. The installation at the Arsenale imagines the Alzheimer’s Respite Centre in Dublin, Ireland as experienced by its occupants: people with dementia and their carers. Dementia erodes the ability to remember where you have come from and to plan where you would like to go. It becomes progressively harder to situate yourself and to navigate your way in the world: two capacities central to the experience of architecture.
www.losingmyself.ie documents the lessons we learn as we speak to a broad range of people about dementia. This website presents a series of interdisciplinary conversations with experts across a range of fields – neuroscientists, psychologists, health workers, philosophers and anthropologists – as well as people with dementia and their families. It allows us to collate stories of personal interactions with dementia, and is of interest to architects, scientists and those dealing with dementia day to day. The site is also a record of the process of developing our central Venice installation: drawing and making in collaboration with others. The design of the website itself incorporates creative advice from people with dementia.
The plan of any building is an architectural representation of the human need to be situated within an environment that provides orientation. Using time-based projection, we redraw the experience of this plan as collectively witnessed by sixteen people using the building over the course of one day. The coherent, fixed plan an architect depends upon can never be fully brought into being by the building’s occupants: they cannot use memory and projection to see beyond their immediate situation and can no longer synthesise their experiences to create a stable model of their environment. This produces a fragmentary world; and, because there is still recourse to deep memory, a world that is filled with a phantasmagoric and unbidden procession of other spaces and times. The overlapping, perhaps conflicting, experiences of the inhabitants question the notion of the building as a singular conception, and by extension, those architectural representations that insist upon buildings as finite and whole objects.
The 15th International Architecture Exhibition is curated by Alejandro Aravena and organized by La Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta.