La Biennale di Venezia

Many of us have heard of the Venice Biennale…..probably the most important international exhibition of contemporary art, held every two years.  I think of it like the World’s Fair of art:   many countries have pavilions, and different exhibitions are installed for each new Biennale, but it occurs (largely) in a dedicated site in Venice.

Visiting Venice this year, I knew that this wasn’t the year for the Biennale for Art.  What I didn’t know is that it’s the year for the Biennale for Architecture. (What I don’t know could fill volumes! As Saint Augustine said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” The Art Caravan has miles to go…..)

Venice Biennale site Photo by T. Vatrt

Venice Biennale site
Photo by T. Vatrt

Venice Biennale site map

Venice Biennale site map

The theme of this year’s Biennale Architettura is Reporting from the Front.  It runs from May 28 to November 27, 2016.  There are 63 nations participating, including Nigeria, the Philippines, Seychelles and Yemen as first time participants.  It’s a big deal!  The exhibitions are not confined to the Arsenale and Giardini sites, but a few are installed in other locations in Venice.  As well, there are symposiums, panel discussions,  a summer school, and much more.

The second pavilion I visited was Great Britain.  (Yes, the first was Canada, but I’ll share my thoughts about it in a separate posting.) Five different, creative propositions answered the challenge of affordable housing in Britain, and by extension, other countries.  Please click here to see a short video explaining the project.  If you want to see and hear more in another short video, please click here.

British pavilion at Venice Biennale for Architecture Photo by T. Vatrt

British pavilion at Venice Biennale for Architecture
Photo by T. Vatrt

The American pavilion showed 12 different responses to rejuvenating sections of Detroit.  Here is a very good video explaining the project in less than five minutes.

Rest assured, I won’t report on every pavilion or display I visited….at least not today.  Perhaps the most important observation is the engagement I felt visiting the Biennale Architettura, despite my very limited knowledge of formal architecture.  For the most part, the projects proposed solutions to real life problems, or reported on creative solutions to challenging circumstances.   The ideas were not only accessible to an average citizen, but also inspiring in their creativity to improve the quality of life for everyone.  This is not an elitist, theoretical display but an opportunity (for everyone) to think both serious, and fun thoughts, about the built world we inhabit.

An added reason to visit Venice soon… if you need another excuse to go.



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