Roberto Cicutto, president of the Venice Biennale, announced during an online broadcast that, following the postponement of last year’s event, the Biennale of Architecture will again be opening its doors to the public on May 22, 2021, with the theme “How will we live together?”
Cicutto went on to quote the great director Ermanno Olmi, with whom he once worked:
“Don’t look at downtimes as useless. Downtimes are very important if they can help us take stock of what we needed to do, what we will need to do, and what our final objectives are.”
With this quote, Cicutto was underscoring how we shouldn’t see last year, when the Biennale was cancelled because of the pandemic, as a missed opportunity. Instead, we should think of it as an extra year for the hard work and analysis that have gone into creating this year’s busy and unprecedented program of events.
Outlining this year’s calendar, Hashim Sarkis, curator of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition, said:
“It will be a broader program, designed to expand the exhibits in the Giardini and Arsenale areas, and deepen the discussion of the fundamental role of architecture in society.”
The new program will extend the reach of the entire Biennale, taking it from Venice to the rest of the world. This was made possible by remodeling the event as a kind of collective process that’s shared by the participants, who, since May last year, have been working hard to ensure that 2020 will indeed not be seen as a missed opportunity.
People were asking this question before the pandemic, but its arrival has made it all the more urgent. The answer is the central theme of the 17th Biennale of Architecture, namely, through architecture’s ongoing commitment to playing a central role in society.
This was why last year a Special Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in memoriam was awarded to Vittorio Gregotti, who did so much to assert the role of architecture among the other arts as well as in the social and political contexts of his time.
This year, the same award will go to Lina Bo Bardi, who so well embodied the theme of this year’s Biennale as an architect who was a coordinator and exemplified the tenacity of architects in difficult times. The award is a recognition of her “powerful buildings” that blend architecture, nature, life, and society.
This year’s Biennale, scheduled to open May 22, features an expanded program, comprising seven key areas:
The pavilion setup phase will be broadcast on the web, revealing for the first time what goes on behind the scenes when setting up the Biennale.
Besides the traditional catalog, two additional publications will be produced: Expansion, with essays by key figures from the architecture world, and Cohabitat, which documents research by international universities that has contributed to collaboration between people.
A collaboration with the artists from Dance Biennale will be created, with the focus on how the body expresses itself in space.
The program of meetings, symposia, and workshops on architecture is being stepped up. Plus, from this year, meetings will be streamed online. The topics covered will be taken from the five themes of the Biennale.
Joint exhibits and events staged in the spirit of togetherness
Touring exhibitions that will travel the world even after the Biennale has closed its doors
A special event will be presented by the Vuslat Foundation that, by focusing on life and history, will help us rethink our ideas about space – from the space of seeing to the space of listening.
The Biennale is moving away from a traditional program to become more fluid and diversified, with the events continuing even after the doors have closed.
Finally, collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum will see the Applied Arts Pavilion hosting an event that showcases three British mosques. Curated by Shahed Saleem and Christopher Turner, Keeper of Design, Architecture & Digital @ V&A, the key themes of the event will be hybridization and multiculturalism. Videos and interviews about mosques and the Islamic community in England will also be featured.
Thanks to Biennale Architettura 2021 - 17. Mostra Internazionale di Architettura
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