Couv Muoto 23

Ball Theater - La fête n'est pas finie

Ball Theater - La fête n’est pas finie is the project selected to represent France at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia 2023 (20 May - 26 November 2023). 

Couv Muoto 23
DT Ball Theater - Le projet
The project

Ball Theater is an installation designed to awaken our desire for utopia. Its hemispherical shape conjures multiple images. It can be interpreted as a globe or a disco ball, a kitschy icon of a time when celebration was still possible. This party of the imagination suggests a new approach to the current crises, emphasising not the urgency but the possibility of imagining other places. During the Biennale, the theatre will alternate between moments of contemplation and immersion in a sound world composed of strange and distant voices, and periods of intense occupation in the form of "balls", spectacular residencies where artists, researchers and students intermingle.

The architecture of the theatre is halfway between structure and set. It is designed in this fashion in order to accommodate, like a real theatre, a stage, a company and an audience. Yet it remains ambivalent, conjuring images as contradictory as those of the futuristic capsule and the primitive hut. In this way it plays upon our contrasting feelings of hope and nostalgia. Our desires to reconstruct this future that belongs to the past, by recycling a host of found objects.

This theatrical experience does not so much provide answers as raise questions. What is the origin of this half-sphere? Who inhabits it? What is its purpose? How did it get here? What do the fragments of voices, whispers and radio interference emanating from its speakers tell us? Has it just landed or is it about to take off? These are the questions we ask ourselves with some hesitation: should we land or take off? Should we get closer to things, create new groups, erase distances and distinctions, or should we rise and distance ourselves? How do we choose? How do we reinvent our relationship with this world in search of a future? 

An invisible space of sound trajectories links the half-sphere to all the objects that surround it. This sound space evolves over time. The voices, whispers and radio interference that shape it form an abstract, non-verbal proto-language that precedes words and encourages new kinds of attention.

The installation is completed by a photographic novel, conceived and imagined by the artist Ugo Bienvenu. The novel underlines the fictional part of the installation by retracing the history and odyssey of the half-sphere in an abandoned city landscape where only children and robots live. It reveals how it was built, the provenance of the objects that surround it and its next destination.

The sound installation

An invisible sound space links all the objects in this installation to one another. The space, designed by the composer Pilooski (Cédric Marszewski), Alain Français and Thomas Fourny, evolves over time. The voices, whispers and radio interference that shape it form an abstract, non-verbal proto-language that precedes words and encourages new kinds of attention. 

BT - DT projet
French Pavilion "Ball Theater - La fête n’est pas finie"
19 may 2023
Inauguration du Pavillon
© DR
Inauguration du Pavillon
Inauguration du Pavillon français "Ball Theater - La fête n’est pas finie" - La Biennale di Venezia 2023
Inaugural event
French Pavilion "Ball Theater - La fête n’est pas finie"
19 may 2023
Évènement inaugural du Pavillon
© DR
Évènement inaugural du Pavillon
Évènement inaugural du Pavillon français "Ball Theater - La fête n’est pas finie"
DT BT - Couv l'équipe
The team
A multidisciplinary team
DT Ball theater

Within the design team, the Muoto studio and Georgi Stanishev are responsible for the general curatorship of the Pavilion with Jos Auzende, associate curator. The studio Clémence La Sagna and Georgi Stanishev are responsible for the set design of the installation. 

Ball Theater hosts a programme of artistic, scientific and educational residencies and workshops, designed and coordinated by Jos Auzende and Anna Tardivel. The permanent sound installation is designed by the electronic music creator Pilooski (Cedric Marszewski) and the sound engineers Alain Français and Thomas Fourny. 

DT Ball Theater - Les bals (couv)
The balls

The balls: spectacular occupations during the Biennale 

The life of Ball Theater alternates between periods of contemplation and occupation. The first period is the daily routine of the Biennale, where visitors walk through its ghostly soundscape. The second is that of the "balls" where the notion of celebration is no longer metaphorical but literal and concrete. The ball programme resonates with current questions about the fragility of the planet, our colonial heritage and our representations of identity, norm and gender. Ball Theater thus brings together two imaginary worlds, those of utopia and celebration, around a common point: the quest for collective emancipation.

Ball Culture: an imaginary world of celebration and emancipation 

Ball Theater takes its name from the word ball, which can refer to a spherical object - ball, globe, balloon - as well as to an event where people dance. The balls are residencies inspired by the history of Ball Culture, which emerged in Harlem, New York in the 1920s and 1930s, where balls were utopian spaces of resistance, dance and celebration for African American and Latino LGBT communities in response to racism and homophobia. In the 1960s and 1970s, ballrooms became places of gay and lesbian sociability, where participants, organised into "houses", paraded in competitions, to jolting, synthetic music. They established themselves as places of emancipation and reclaimed identity. This imaginary party developed historically at a time when the great political utopias were collapsing, as if to compensate for the end of the desire for escape. 

Spectacular workshop-residencies 

Within the framework of the Biennale, the balls are spectacular residency-workshops open to the public and programmed one week per month. The balls offer the opportunity for multidisciplinary teams - artists, researchers, students - to inhabit the theatre, to occupy it and to transform it into a catalyst of the imagination. Each ball allows new occupants to take possession of the space, to work and to experiment with original relationships with the public. During these residencies, the occupants mobilise voice, body, music, image and text to address an audience who are sometimes witnesses, sometimes accomplices, invited to take part in the staging. The experience is similar to discovering the wings of a theatre, giving the sensation of attending a rehearsal behind closed doors.
 The balls cross disciplines and are an opportunity to bring together fields such as art, architecture and research. The programme is designed to animate the six months of the Biennale.

Balls calendar - DT BT
Présentation des bals

Balls presentation

You betta talk to me nice, le bal interlope

17-19 May 2023

By Vinii Revlon, with Mariana Benenge et Missy NRC, dancers of the House of Revlon, and by Tata Foxie and la Déliche 

Ball Theater opens the ball season with a dual homage to the history of sleaze balls and voguing as spaces of utopia and emancipation. In response to the homophobia and racism of American society in the 1930s, Afro-descendant and Latino communities created their own balls. Between fashion shows, dance contests and performances, everyone faced each other and dared to express who they really were. In a similar movement, at the beginning of the twentieth century in Paris, carnivals and balls animated the Parisian underground scene. At the dawn of the 21st century, this is what we now refer to as the drag scene. In Venice, French voguing 'legend' Vinii Revlon, founder of the House of Revlon, and his members, Mariana Benenge, choreographer and waacking dancer, and Missy NRC, Hip-Hop New Style dancer, invite the public to take part in the preparations, to follow in the dancers' footsteps, or to take the time to discuss this highly codified culture, synonymous with celebration and political protest, while Tata Foxie and La Deliche, two queer creatures, citizens of Ball Theater's evolved and egalitarian society, revisit the utopian history of the bals interlopes, cross-dressing, transformism and the passage from clandestinity to inclusive emancipation.

Présentation des bals


Earth / Ball / Theater, le bal de la Terre

26-30 July 2023 

By Frédérique Aït-Touati (compagnie Zone Critique). With Maya Boquet, Emanuele Coccia, Esther Denis, Duncan Evennou, Madeleine Fournier, Olivier Normand, Alvise Sinevia.

44 years after Aldo Rossi's Teatro del Mondo, the Earth ball conceived by the company Zone critique is a creative-research residency that envisages the Ball Theater as a theatrum mundi, i.e. a model of the world. Inspired by georamas, huge globes built in the 19th century that allowed the public to "visit" the Earth, the Earth ball demonstrates how future spaces can be produced by reinventing these vanished geographical attractions. The public and artists in residence are invited to experience the party as the concentration of an era, a society, a way of seeing the world, a cosmology: it is during parties that worlds are invented, that codes are dissolved or fixed, that new ways of coming together are put to the test. This is the great tradition of Carnival, of which Venice is of course one of the most iconic examples.

Présentation des bals

Radio Utopia, le bal des sonorités

1-5 August 2023 

By Nicolas Tixier, AAU laboratory, Equipe Cresson, ENSA Grenoble and Carlotta Darò, LIAT laboratory, ENSA Paris-Malaquais, supported by Translitteræ-Université PSL 

Over the course of one week, the Ball Theater is transformed into a real radio studio open to the public. Capturing and broadcasting different types of sound extracts, this radio station connects the radio theatre to numerous French and foreign partners, territories, institutions, researchers, artists and acousticians. Its programming evolves during the week with a series of live broadcasts entitled "Nouvelles du monde" (News of the World), site specific installations and the possibility of wandering around the interior and exterior of the pavilion with mini sound diffusers from all over the world, collected through a call for contributions. This sound laboratory offers an experimental platform to better understand our era, to learn to listen differently and to make audible new voices from here and elsewhere. This programme is supported by Réseau International Ambiances, B_AIR-Art Infinity radio / Creative Europe, Ecole Supérieure d'Art Annecy Alpes, D-ARCH ETH Zurich and Radio France Internationale.

Présentation des bals

Echotopy, le bal des voix

13-17 september 2023 

By Violaine Lochu with Yannick Guédon and Anne-Laure Pigache 

Voices – singing, murmuring, whispering, growling, warbling, yelling... All registers are summoned here to invite us to consider our relationship with the environment, not in terms of a reciprocal exteriority, but of continuity, beyond any connection between the living and the non-living, animate or inert. This is no longer a case of singing about a place or landscape, but becoming part of a landscape-future, a mountain-future, a river-future, as in animist practices, those of the Sámi Yoik or of classical Chinese painting. At the Ball Theater, accompanied by two singer/performers, the artist and performer Violaine Lochu presents a series of polyphonies that form a vocal interplay of scores and meanderings improvised in situ, over a short space of time with the audience. Drawing on a specific protocol, it aims to trace the outlines of an “echotopy”.

Présentation des bals

The schools ball

The joy of tilting 

14-17 October 2023

By Can Onaner and Mathilde Sari with the students of ENSA Bretagne (Masters project workshop "Architecture of the Crowd"), Johanna Rocard, Damien Marchal and the Synopsis collective, in partnership with EUR-Caps

Reflecting on our world in crisis with a mythical way of thinking can be an opportunity for an authentic re-creation where the whole social, cultural and natural world is reimagined without guilt, without fear, with joy. The "Architecture of the Crowd" workshop at ENSAB, Johanna Rocard, Damien Marchal and the Synopsis collective propose to immerse themselves inside the Ball Theater to turn it into a laboratory of a mythical universe: one of ritualised, joyful tilting. Shifts from sleep to wakefulness, from weight to lightness, from balance to imbalance, from order to formlessness, from calm to revolt, from fear to courage. Shifts from one state to another, individual or collective, physical or psychological. Posters, words, the movement of bodies and sounds become material and symbolic devices invented on the spot, constituting the rituals specific to the Ball Theater. 

Présentation des bals

The schools ball

After the revolution 

17-21 October 2023

By Xavier Wrona, Manuel Bello Marcano and Cédric Libert with the students of ENSA Saint-Etienne

In 2015, the architectural television channel After the Revolution was created during the Chicago Biennial for a series of ten broadcasts. It proposed to analyse neoliberalism as a conservative and accomplished global revolutionary process. A total architecture, having been imposed by the new world order of the market economy. In the framework of the French Pavilion of the Biennale di Venezia, Ball Theater, the students of the Master 1 workshop Architecture as a Political Practice of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Saint-Etienne, reactivate this work of collective insight into the relations between architecture and revolutionary phenomena in the form of a radio station: Afterthe revolution radio. Inspired by Pier Paolo Pasolini's 1964 micro vox pop survey Comizi d'amore ('Love Meetings') on notions of sexuality in Italy in the 1960s, the students will carry out an investigation and documentation of the ambivalence of revolutionary processes among the nations exhibiting in the Biennale's pavilions. For it is difficult to imagine that revolutions will not have their place among the tools necessary to stop the current generalised ecocide.

Présentation des bals

Prospect Station, le Bal des Novums utopiques

19-26 November 2023

By Alice Carabédian and Fanny Lopez, with collaboration from Claire Rose Barbier, Marthe Drucbert, Caroline Gallez and their students, in partnership with the Université Gustave Eiffel  

“You have to know how to dance,” Farkas Molnár said of the famous Bauhaus costume parties. Because the body is central to a ball and the Ball Theater is the pavilion’s centre stage, Prospect Station strives to design and create a series of architectural, technical, portable, working, mechanised, sci-fi-esque costumes through an approach based on creative research. In the context of the environmental emergency, utopias can reinvent sociotechnical concepts. Combining artistic practice, architectural theory, science fiction and the history of techniques, each costume will embody an architectural, technical or environmental issue. A catalogue will present illustrated notes on how the costumes were made and how they should be used. Between high-tech innovation and low-tech reflexivity, these natureculture costumes will represent stories in object form, central to explorations of the relationships between technique, environment and the ways we inhabit the world. 

DT BT - Roman photo
The photo novel

Lorem ipsum

Lorem ipsum is an architectural fiction that takes the form of a photo novel, born from the encounter between an author, Ugo Bienvenu, and the architects of the French Pavilion of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia. In this novel, Ugo Bienvenu, cartoonist and film director, imagines the history and the myth of the Ball Theater. His story is set in a world suspended between the past and the future, which combines the turmoil of abandonment and the joy of a collective party. The story takes us through the journey of a small community of strangely similar children and a rusty robot, and their discovery of enigmatic objects that they decide to assemble and bring back to life. The title Lorem ipsum is taken from a section of Latin treatise, reworked beyond meaning. It refers to the common practice in the graphic design and printing industry of using this text as a temporary filler for pending text areas. In the context of the work, the combination of these two Latin terms refers to the idea of an architectural tale whose meaning emerges in the course of action, before words and explanations.

Lorem ipsum, Ugo Bienvenu—Remembers Studio

Editions Caryatide, 72 pages, illustrated in colour.

                                                             ​         ​​​​​​ ​       ​​​​​​  Order the photo novel 

Ugo Bienvenu - Photo novel
DT Ball Theater - Couv partenaires
The partners
Sponsored by Cartier - DT BT
DT DT - Partners
DT Ball theater - La visite (Couv)
The tour

French pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia 2023

Ball Theater - La fête n’est pas finie

French Pavilion "Ball Theater - La fête n'est pas finie"
La Biennale di Venezia 2023
Visite du Pavillon
© DR
Visite du Pavillon
Visite du Pavillon français "Ball Theater - La fête n'est pas finie" - La Biennale di Venezia 2023