Towards Paradise is inspired by Aaron Betsky’s brief for the 11th Venice Architecture Biennale ‒ “Il faut cultiver notre jardin”, referring to Voltaire’s Candide. Towards Paradise responds to the challenge of how to cultivate one’s garden, or how to tend to our own affairs. In an idealistic world, to have that capacity, one needs wisdom and a desire to search for wisdom. In French, the “Jardin Secret” is the private and protected part of the soul. Gian Battista Tiepolo’s giant allegorical painting “The Plague of the Serpent” in the Accademia uses the serpent as the metaphor for voyage, discovery and self knowledge. In the division of good and evil, the snake embodies both.
Towards Paradise is a contemporary allegory that explores the needs helping us to cultivate our souls. The garden installation is located within the UNESCO World Heritage setting of Venice and the Venetian Lagoon, sculpted out of the overgrown grounds of the former Church of the Virgins, a Benedictine nunnery that was destroyed in the late 1800s.
The allegory follows a white gravel path of earthly dilemmas, passing references to life and death “towards paradise”. Past, present, and future, the garden is composed of five main spaces carved into the existing bramble vegetation. This quiet, contemplative and magical space is designed to create a place of serenity where the visitor may sit and reflect ‒ a place to take stock, nourish the soul, and hopefully find a personal sense of enlightenment.