At the last Venice Architecture Biennale, in 1996, the Japanese staged a recreation of the Kobe earthquake and duly won the prize for best pavilion. Don't say they've lost a sense of humour, though.
For this year's biennale, with its high-minded theme of 'City: Less Aesthetics, More Ethics', the Japanese have responded with - yes, 'City of Girls'. 'From which standpoint can we as Japanese propose ethics?' curator Kazuko Koike asked the pavilion's commissioner Arata Isozaki.'We can only think of gender, ' said Isozaki. 'Well then, I want to focus on girls, ' replied Koike. The Japanese spent most of the first press day wrapping tree trunks outside the pavilion in white fabric, scattering white gravel inside and out, and planting artificial daisies on long metal stems. The girls appear as photographs inside the pavilion for no obvious reason.
What is Isozaki up to these days?
His other contribution to the biennale was 'A Capital for World Peace - Transarchitecture of Meditation': a proposed 'world capital in the Brahmasthan of India' to demonstrate the principles for world reconstruction of Maharishi Sthapatya-Veda. Isozaki promised a 'live performance of yogic flying' at his press conference, timed with curious precision for 12.36. Follow Isozaki's progress into new realms of consciousness on www.maharishi.co.jp/isozaki