A selection of our best exclusive interviews and articles that explore the 2021 Venice Biennale.
Written by Dima Stouhi
Despite a year-long postponement and strict pandemic regulations, the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia has finally come to an end with over 300,000 visitors, exceeding the previous edition. Titled “How Will We Live Together”, the 2021 edition of the event featured 112 participants and 60 national participations hailing from 46 countries, displayed across the Giardini, Arsenale, and the streets of Venice from May 22nd to November 21st, 2021. UAE’s Wetland by curators Wael Al Awar and Kenichi Teramoto took home the Golden Lion for Best National Participation, for presenting an innovative contextual alternative to cement, one of the key emitters of the world’s carbon dioxide.
Several recurring qualities and topics were explored at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale. As Sarkis called upon architects “to imagine spaces in which we can generously live together”, national participants tackled global matters like migration and its impact on built environments, sustainability and climate change, and boundaries. The way these themes were displayed also saw a variation during this year’s edition; taking into account that not everyone was able to physically attend the event, some national pavilions resorted to digital interfaces as a means of conveying the architectural experience of La Biennale, giving the chance for viewers across the world to be virtual visitors.
The 17th International Architecture Exhibition has just closed. But it is way too soon to assess its impact, whether on the discourse of architecture or on the trajectory of ideas and practices to come. Give it at least until the next Biennale! Words and images have their own ways of traveling and they often arrive before we attribute meaning or value to them. They seduce us, they create desire and then they find a way to latch on to meaning, to a certain spirit of the time, and they become the illustrations of this spirit. These, our nascent times, are looking for images, and they are also looking for a spirit. Let us hope that the projects of the Biennale Architettura 2021 will generate such imagery, but let us give ourselves time before we can say more about them and before they can say more about us. — Hashim Sarkis, 2021 Venice Biennale Curator