Brendan McGetrick
Recent works and current obsessions

Fair Enough

Fair Enough is an exhibition presented in the Russian pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. (All photos courtesy of Strelka Institute)

Curatorial statement:

Since 1914 Russia has established itself as the world’s largest and most radical urban laboratory. Decades of experimentation have produced architectural solutions for almost any demographic need or social ambition. These efforts are undertaken at great cost, and their usefulness is often undersold.

Rather than presenting a linear story of Russia’s modernization, Fair Enough applies architectural history to meet contemporary needs. The exhibition takes urban ideas from the past century – some celebrated, some obscure; some seemingly outdated, some supposed failures – and gives them new purpose. To maximize its utility, each exhibited project is stripped to its conceptual essence. To illustrate their continued relevance, the concepts are updated and applied to challenges now confronting architects around the world. For easiest exchange, Russia’s architectural innovations are expressed through the universal language of the international trade fair.

Visitors enter the pavilion and are greeted by a receptionist who welcomes them and provides a badge and program. Once inside, visitors encounter a scene consistent with commercial fairs around the world – carefully defined booths of different sizes and levels of energy and ostentatiousness, all united through a single system of pre-fabricated wall panels and standardized signage.

The scene itself is a response to national pavilions’ curatorial theme: the exhibition addresses the issue of “absorbing modernity” by adopting the language of what is perhaps the ultimate manifestation of modernity – the international trade fair, a truly universal typology in which multimillion dollar medical equipment and artworks, imitation mobile phones, chemicals, canned foods, and curtain wall are all exchanged. As they relate to architecture, the international exhibition and commercial expo share much in common; in Russia they have essentially merged, with visions for urbanizing the country’s interior presented in a context of carpet samples and molding catalogs. In Russia’s pavilion, we present exhibition as expo: each booth showcases a different example of our modern architecture, illustrated through a combination of historical and new materials, and described to visitors by a representative who preaches the virtues of the concept, provides its history, and connects it to contemporary needs. The trade show runs throughout the first week of the biennale then gradually shuts down, leaving an abandoned post-fair environment filled with flyers, pamphlets and catalogs that visitors can explore at their leisure, accompanied by the exhibition’s audioguide app.

Fair Enough is an expo of ideas. Each exhibit marks a milestone in modernization and clears a path for new efforts. Together, they form a marketplace of urban invention – made in Russia, open to the world.


Co-curators: Anton Kalgaev, Daria Paramonova
CEO Strelka Institute: Varvara Melnikova
Russian Pavilion Commissioner: Semyon Mikhailovsky, Grigory Revzin
Producer: Natalia Boyko
Head of Graphic Design: Maria Kosareva
Performance Director: Philipp Grigoryan
Project Assistant: Vera Antonova
Performers: Alexander Ostrogorsky, Anna Bokova, Anna Bronovitskaya, Anton Ivanov, Daliya Safiullina, Daria Bocharnikova, Elena Martynova, Elena Tsykhon, Evgenia Nedosekina, Ilya Mukosey, Ivan Kuryachiy, Konstantin Budarin, Maria Fadeeva, Markus Lahteenmaki, Odin Lund Biron, Pavel Nefedov, Roman Khidekel, Sergey Nebotov, Vasily Auzan, Yuliya Ardabevskaya
Consultants & Researchers: Victor Ruben, Nikita Lomakin, Sergey Bondarenko, Markus Lahteenmaki, Tobias Rupprecht
Architects: Sofia Sverdlova, Maria Tsentsiper, Daniil Khlebnikov, Olga Pankova, Nadezhda Korbut, Anastasia Vaynberg, Tamara Muradova, Arkadiy Smirnov
Graphic Designers: Natalia Serikova, Timur Akhmetov, Alexei Sebyakin, Andrey Goncharov
Costume Designer: Galya Solodovnikova
Video Artists: Alexander Lobanov, Yury Corneo
Photographers: Yuri Palmin, Konstanin Budarin, Ekaterina Nagibina
Illustrators: Evgeny Katin, Yuliya Ardabevskaya, Alina Kvirkvelia, Alexandra Bogdanova, Evgeny Katin (Bang! Bang! Studio), Julia Malysheva
Artists: Alisa Nikitina, Maja Wronska, Alexander Shepelev, Bogdan Zavalei, Dar Pantsev (RIA Luzhniki), Vladimir Trulov, SK Alfa +, OOO Elser, Art Bureau Certus
Translators and Editors: Ben McGarr, Ekaterina Lobkova, Polina Minor, Nina Nazarova
Exhibition Construction: Baeren GmbH
Cameramen: Dmitry Boyko, Andrey Vorobiev
Print Manager: Ekaterina Scholts
App Developers: Olga Polischuk, Sergey Surganov, Zoreslav Khimich
Website: Whitescape