Gediminas Urbonas’s The Swamp School

2018 Mellon Faculty Grant Recipient

The Swamp School's Community of Plants workshop with biologist Daubaras. Photo: Urbona's Studio.
Swamp ponchos by Urbona's Studio. Design by Sandra Straukaite. Pattern: Gaile Pranckunaite. Photo: Norbert Tukaj.
The Swamp School discussion. Photo: Brent D Ryan.
Hybrid Radio by Nicole L’Huillier. Photo: Gabriele Urbonaite.
Speaker Tower by Nicolás Kisic Aguirre. Photo: Urbona's Studio.

A project of imagination and non-material architecture

About the Project

For the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, Gediminas and Nomeda Urbonas curate the Swamp Pavilion, which represents their native Lithuania. It is a networked effort to create new imaginary space for exercises in architectural and artistic practices, theory and pedagogy through events including public interventions, field trips, workshops, lectures, discussions, chat channels and printed publications.

The Swamp Pavilion houses the Swamp School, which focuses on future learning environments, informed by and informing the architecture and installations within it. The Swamp School comprises three chapters: Swamp Radio: On transmitting; Futurity Island: On sympoietics; and Commonism: On cohabitation.

In a time marked by existential threats of war and climate change, the Swamp School is a learning environment that sets up a cross-disciplinary dialogue to challenge conventional concepts of territory. It aims to reorganize identities and realities, and to envision the role of the immaterial in architecture, art and nature. Globally recognized artists, architects, designers, urbanists and philosophers from MIT and its partner network shape installations and workshops in the pavilion and throughout Venice.

The Lithuanian pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia is commissioned by Pippo Ciorra, produced by the Architecture Fund and presented by the Lithuanian Council for Culture with support from the MIT School of Architecture and Planning, MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology, MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology and the Nordic Culture Fund, OCA – Office for Contemporary Art Norway.

More at the project website: The Swamp Pavilion


Past Events

Commonism: On cohabitation
September 24-29, 2018

Futurity Island: On symbio-poetics
June 26-30, 2018

Swamp Radio: On transmitting
May 23-27, 2018

About the Artists

Gediminas Urbonas is an Associate Professor in the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology, and co-founder with Nomeda Urbonas of Urbonas Studio, an interdisciplinary research practice that advocates for the reclamation of public space, stimulating cultural and political imagination as tools for social change. Combining new and old media, Urbonas Studio’s work frequently involves collective activities contributing to the cross-disciplinary exchange between several nodes of knowledge production: network and participatory technologies; sensorial media and public space; environmental remediation design and spatial organization; and alternative planning design integration. They also collaborate with experts in different cultural fields to develop practice-based artistic research models that allow participants—including their students—to pursue projects that merge urbanism, new media, social sciences and pedagogy to critically address the transformation of civic space.

Urbonas has exhibited internationally, including at the São Paulo, Berlin, Moscow, Lyon and Gwangju Biennales—and Manifesta and Documenta exhibitions—among numerous other international shows, including a solo show at the Venice Architecture Biennale and Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA).

In 2019, Urbonas Studio was awarded a European Social Fund Grant for a two-month residency in Venice to continue work on the Swamp.

More at the artist’s website: Gediminas Urbonas