June 2, 2016
An Archictural gem to read now: 'Dream of Venice Architecture' Book
JoAnn Locktov, principal of Bella Figura Communications and editor of 'Dream of Venice,' answers our questions on the second book of the series, 'Dream of Venice Architecture.'
by New York Spaces
JoAnn Locktov, principal of Bella Figura Communications and editor of Dream of Venice, answers our questions on the second book of the series, Dream of Venice Architecture. Photography by Riccardo De Cal.
JoAnn Locktov: This book was conceived around architecture, so unlike the first book there is a central theme beyond the city itself. The process was also quite different in that first we requested the essays, and then Riccardo De Cal, took a photo for each one. The images were inspired by the texts we received.
NYS: What do you think we can learn from a city that is over 1,500 years old?
JoAnn Locktov: We can learn how to harmonize architecture with nature, design for seduction, respect craftsmanship, cherish innovation, and embrace contradiction. We can learn that we are stronger when we integrate cultures beyond our own and recognize that survival is an act of faith, wisdom, and imagination. We can learn that there is unfathomable beauty in the patina of age, beyond romanticism.
NYS: How did you choose the architects and architectural writers who contributed to your book?
JoAnn Locktov: I researched in concentric circles. First there were the architects who have built in Venice (Tadao Ando, Annabelle Selldorf, Mario Botta, Michele de Lucchi, Thomas Woltz, and Valeriano Pastor). Then I looked to the Architecture Biennale for exhibitors and curators (Cynthia Davidson, Louise Braverman, TAMassociati, William Menking, Massimiliano Fuksas, Rocco Yim, etc.). There is a core of architects who have written books on Carlo Scarpa that were essential to include (Guido Pietropoli, Richard Murphy, Anne-Catrin Schultz, and Robert McCarter). Through my curiosity about Venice I've become aware of architects and architectural writers that share in my fascination with the city (Max Levy, Michael Welton, Witold Rybczynski, Diana Yakeley, Randy Bosch, Constantin Boym, James Biber, Francesco da Mosto, Jonathan Glancey, Guy Horton, Dial Parrott, Michael Johnson, etc.) and they were invited to participate. When we started receiving the essays I realized that the book needed a historical context. So I asked Richard Goy, who is both an architect and authority on Venetian architecture to write our introduction. He gave us our foundation.
NYS: What do these architects and writers reveal in each essay and how did the photographer try to capture the essence of each of their essays?
JoAnn Locktov: Each contributor reveals an aspect of Venice that has inspired them, and why. Sometimes it was a building or structure, sometimes the quality of space and light, sometimes it was the confounding experience of traversing the city, and sometimes, as in the case of Tadao Ando, it was the Venetians themselves.
Riccardo will admit that Venice is one of the most difficult cities to photograph. He explains his methodology, "Each essay has been for me a "medium" to reach, through various steps in some cases, a convergence between the author's point of view and my own perception of Venice. It was like listening to a melody coming from the calli, and trying to find its origin within the labyrinth. Or, using another metaphor, I felt like a dowser in search of water. It was not an intellectual approach, rather instinctive and subliminal, instead."
NYS: What is it about Venice that inspires such love and contemplation?
JoAnn Locktov: Venice reflects each life uniquely. She allows for the depth of despair and the giddiness of joy, in equal measure. She provokes our assumptions of reality with her audacity to exist. For the infatuated that fall in love with Venice—the impetus of our enchantment is as individual as our own life story.
As Richard Goy writes in the introduction, "We all, have millions of us, have our own personal Venice, a kaleidoscope of colors, sounds, smells, memories, reflections—some images fleeting or perhaps just fragmented shards of images...an infinite mosaic as rich and complex as those in the Basilica. Every one is different."
NYS: Why do you think it's important not to forget the buildings and history of a city such as Venice?
JoAnn Locktov: If we forget the history of Venice we will forget about our capacity for survival. We will forget about innovation in maritime development, politics, building, banking, bridges, glass, printing, and weaving. We will forget about the world's first ghetto and why it was created. We will forget about Marco Polo, Palladio, and Marino Sanudo. We will forget about Aldo Manuzio, Vivaldi, and Gaspara Stampa. We will forget about Tiepolo, Titian, and Tintoretto. We will even forget about the unforgettable Casanova. The buildings of Venice contain all this memory, in their construction, in their art, and in their stones.
NYS: What are a couple of your favorite essays in the book and why?
JoAnn Locktov: Well, that is like asking a mother which child is her favorite! When I asked the contributors to write about Venice I had no idea what they would say. I predicted a few would write about Scarpa, but which Scarpa project? Even though Diana Yakeley, Richard Murphy, Robert McCarter, Valeriano Pastor, Guido Pietropoli, Anne-Catrin Schultz, Vincenzo Casali, and Michael Johnson all wrote about the modern maestro, they all wrote something distinct about Scarpa's brilliant legacy. Every contributor wrote intimately about Venice, and remarkably, they all wrote about a unique aspect of the city.
NYS: We learned from Frank Harmon's essay that Venetian buildings are deeper than they are wide...and that detail inspired much of the design of the buildings. We found that fascinating...what other details did you learn yourself from editing this wonderful book?
JoAnn Locktov: I actually learned something from every essay. I will never look at the sotoporteghi or doors in Venice the same way again. I learned about the Nicelli airport on the Lido and that there are 15 types of algae in the Lagoon. I learned (more) about the compelling vision of Carlo Scarpa. I learned that ogee arches in Venice are distinctly Venetian, "light, graceful, and whimsical—almost feminine." I learned how important it is in Venice to look up.
NYS: What common feedback did the architects and writers who participated in the book most relay?
JoAnn Locktov: From the responses to being asked to participate, it seemed that these revelations about Venice had been percolating for a while, and were just waiting to be released.
Architects from China, Scotland, England, Japan, Italy, Mexico, Germany, and the US wrote of their deep affection for Venice and gratitude that she exists. Many wrote of transformational life experiences from the most humble of situations.
NYS: Do you expect there to be a series of books? If so, when can we expect the next edition?
JoAnn Locktov: Yes, the books were conceived as a series to present Venice as a living city. The next one, slated for 2018, is Dream of Venice in Black & White. It will be a book in homage to the great Italian photographer Gianni Berengo Gardin and as the title suggests, only include black and white photography. Unlike the first two books, it will only have one essay.
NYS: What is it about Venice that invites exploration and discovery? We love that Rocco Yim talked about this in his essay!
JoAnn Locktov: In Venice you only have two choices for transportation, you can walk, or take a boat. There are no cars. It is a viscerally inviting city and impossible to navigate as Annabelle Selldorf writes by "conscious understanding." Since the city was built with the front of homes facing the water, the "streets" are narrow and winding afterthoughts, with few right angles. It is a handcrafted city, and often, as Michael Welton discovered, in the most surprising of places, it can even—in all its aquatic strangeness—feel like home. It is essentially impossible not to get lost, so if you can let go of your GPS driven need to know, you will be delightfully astonished when you least expect it.
NYS: Where can we find Dream of Venice Architecture?
JoAnn Locktov: Actually everywhere! Both books are available on-line and in stores. We have domestic (IPG) and foreign (Gazelle) distribution, so if your favorite independent bookseller is not yet carrying the book, they can order it for you. I am especially delighted that the books have received a wonderful reception in Venice and can be found throughout the city, at bookshops and museums.
NYS: What are you working on now?
JoAnn Locktov: The publication of a book is only the first step. Now, I am working to share what we've created with architects, designers, and travelers. I am grateful to NY Spaces for inviting me to discuss the book and including Riccardo's evocative photography. Grazie di cuore!
Of course, I'm also on the look out for photographers for the next book....
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