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During the press conference, held on 27th February 2020 in Venice by Biennale President Paolo Baratta, curator Hashim Sarkis explained his concept in detail, and announced the 114 invited participants to the International Exhibition, with equal representation of men and women, and coming from 46 countries with increased representation from Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
Extracts from Hashim Sarkis' statement:
We need a new spatial contract. In the context of widening political divides and growing economic inequalities, we call on architects to imagine spaces in which we can generously live together:
- together as human beings who, despite our increasing individuality, yearn to connect with one another and with other species across digital and real space;
- together as new households looking for more diverse and dignified spaces for inhabitation;
- together as emerging communities that demand equity, inclusion, and spatial identity;
- together across political borders to imagine new geographies of association;
The architects invited to participate in the Biennale Architettura 2020 are encouraged to include other professions and constituencies—artists, builders, and craftspeople, but also politicians, journalists, social scientists, and everyday citizens. In effect, the Biennale Architettura 2020 asserts the vital role of the architect as both cordial convener and custodian of the spatial contract.
We look to the collective architectural imagination to meet this momentous occasion with creativity and courage.
Unpacking the Question:
The theme of the Biennale Architettura 2020 is its title. The title is a question. The question is open:
How: Speaks to practical approaches and concrete solutions, highlighting the primacy of problem solving in architectural thinking.
Will: Signals looking toward the future, but also seeking vision and determination, drawing from the power of the architectural imaginary.
We: Stands for first person, plural, and thus inclusive (of other peoples, of other species), appealing to a more empathetic understanding of architecture.
Live: Means not simply to exist but to thrive, to flourish, to inhabit, and to express life, tapping into architecture’s inherent optimism.
Together: Implies collectives, commons, universal values, highlighting architecture as a collective form and a form of expression.
?: Indicates an open question, not a rhetorical one, looking for (many) answers, celebrating the plurality of values in and through architecture.
The question, “How will we live together?” is at once an ancient one and an urgent one. It is also as much a social and political question as a spatial one. Aristotle asked it when he was defining politics, and he came back to propose the model of the city. Every generation asks it and answers it differently. More recently rapidly changing social norms, growing political polarization, climate change, and vast global inequalities are making us ask this question more urgently and at different scales than before. In parallel, the weakness of the political models being proposed today compels us to put space first and, perhaps like Aristotle, look at the way architecture shapes inhabitation for potential models for how we could live together.
The Biennale Architettura 2020 is organized into five scales:
Three in the Arsenale
1. Among Diverse Beings
2. As New Households
3. As Emerging Communities
Two in the Central Pavilion
4. Across Borders
5. As One Planet
Projects range from the analytic to the conceptual, the experimental, the tested and proven, and the widely deployed.
In addition to the invited participants, the 2020 Biennale also includes a series of research stations that support the Exhibition, developed by researchers from universities around the world.
The grounds of Forte Marghera will feature projects devoted to children’s play, by five architects and an architectural photographer under the subtheme: “How Will We Play Together?”.
From press information
© Portrait, video still: Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia
Giardini and Arsenale, opening times:
23 May - 29 November 2020
Tue - Sun 10 am - 6 pm
Last admission: 5:45 pm
Closed on Mondays - except 25 May and 23 Nov.
More information, tickets, education, guided tours, access, contacts, etc.:
Website La Biennale di Venezia
59th International Art Exhibition, May - Nov. 2021. Artistic Director: Cecilia Alemani.
Photo tours and information: Contemporary arts, cultural heritage, archaeological sites