2023 Venice Architecture Biennale: 63 National Pavilions and 89 Participants with Significant Representation from Africa
Announced today in a live presentation, the 18th International Architecture Exhibition, titled The Laboratory of the Future, curated by Lesley Lokko, will be open to the public from May 20 to November 26, 2023, in Venice, Italy. This edition will include 63 National Pavilions, 27 of which are at the Giardini, 22 at the Arsenale, and 14 in the city center of Venice. Structured in six parts, the exhibition will include 89 Participants, over half of whom are from Africa or the African Diaspora, with a 50/50 gender balance, and an average age of 43 for participants. Contributors include Adjaye Associates, atelier masōmī, Kéré Architecture, MASS Design Group, Sumayya Vally and Moad Musbahi, Theaster Gates Studio, Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation, Liam Young, Neri&Hu Design and Research Office, to name a few.
Organized at the Giardini, the Arsenale, and Forte Marghera, the highly anticipated 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale will be inaugurated in a couple of months. Focusing on “agents of change”, this edition will introduce a lot of novelties. Niger will participate for the first time, while Panama will have its own independent pavilion. The Holy See will return to the Biennale Architettura, participating with its own Pavilion on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore. With an average age of 43 for participants -dropping to 37 in the Curator’s Special Projects, where the youngest is 24-, the 2023 exhibition has 46% of its 89 participants considering education as a form of practice. Moreover, 70% of exhibits are by practices run by an individual or a very small team.
Borrowing its structure and format from art exhibitions, but differing from art in critical ways, as stated by Lesley Lokko, this year’s edition is centered on “Change”. “It is impossible to build a better world if one cannot first imagine it”, adds Lokko. In the Central Pavilion in the Giardini, 16 practices representing a “distilled force majeure of African and Diasporic architectural production have been gathered”. In the Arsenale complex, for the first time ever, the Curator’s Special Projects is as large as the other categories. And in both venues, young African and Diasporan practitioners, showcase work that engages directly with the twin themes of this exhibition, decolonization, and decarbonization.
Africa at Architecture Biennials: Questioning Difficult Histories of Representation
For the first time ever, the spotlight has fallen on Africa and the African Diaspora, that fluid and enmeshed culture of people of African descent that now straddles the globe. What do we wish to say? How will what we say change anything? And, perhaps most importantly of all, how will what we say interact with and infuse what ‘others’ say, so that the exhibition is not a single story, but multiple stories that reflect the vexing, gorgeous kaleidoscope of ideas, contexts, aspirations, and meanings that is every voice responding to the issues of its time? — Lesley Lokko.
Attempting to bridge the gap between architects and the public, the program will be supported by Carnival, a six-month-long cycle of events, lectures, panel discussions, films, and performances that will explore the themes furthermore. In this new form of architectural practice, “politicians, policymakers, poets, filmmakers, documentary makers, writers, activists, community organizers, and public intellectuals will share the stage with architects, academics, and students”. Also for the first time ever, the Biennale Architettura will include the Biennale College Architettura, which will run from 25 June to 22 July 2023. Fifteen renowned international tutors will work with fifty students, early career practitioners, and academics from around the world, selected by Lesley Lokko through an Open Call process that gathered 986 applications.
We have deliberately chosen to frame participants as ‘practitioners’ – the Curator stated – and not ‘architects’ and/or ‘urbanists’, ‘designers’, ‘landscape architects’, ‘engineers’ or ‘academics’ because it is our contention that the rich, complex conditions of both Africa and a rapidly hybridizing world call for a different and broader understanding of the term ‘architect’. — Lesley Lokko.
Committed to climate action, la Biennale di Venezia seeks to encourage “a more sustainable model for the design, installation, and operation of all its events”, and will focus in 2023, on raising awareness on the overall carbon footprint that also encompasses the mobility of the visitors. The pre-opening of the international exhibition will take place on May 18 and 19, 2023, and the awards ceremony and inauguration will be held on Saturday 20 May 2023. The Collateral Events, organized in several locations around the city of Venice, admitted by the Curator and promoted by non–profit national and international bodies and institutions, will be announced in the coming weeks.
We invite you to check out ArchDaily’s comprehensive coverage of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023.