La Biennale di Venezia

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Introduction by


President of La Biennale di Venezia

Un peu d'histoire

In the history of La Biennale di Venezia, architecture carved out a place for itself within the International Art Exhibition first with Vittorio Gregotti in 1975, and then as part of the Theatre section with Aldo Rossi, who in 1979 created the "Teatro del Mondo". In 1980 the International Architecture Exhibition became an independent section, although Paolo Portoghesi's exhibition on "La Strada Novissima" was still a part of that year's International Art Exhibition. Several exhibitions followed, also curated by Portoghesi, including "L’architettura dei paesi islamici" (20 November 1982 - 6 January 1983); "Progetto Venezia" curated by Aldo Rossi (20 July - 29 September 1985). The following year, in 1986, Aldo Rossi curated an exhibition devoted to Hendrik Petrus Berlage that was held during the year of the International Art Exhibition. In 1991, when Francesco Dal Co came along, La Biennale organized the first exhibition enriched with Pavilions of  participating countries (lasting under 30 days, however).

La Biennale’s statute finally confirmed architecture as an independent sector with the 1998 reform.

Our Guidelines, Our Objectives

These exhibitions lasted around four weeks.
Substantially, they involved appointments and encounters between architects (visitors numbered around 70,000).
We specifically decided to give a big impetus to the Architecture sector.
After several years during which it lasted for three months, since 2014 the International Architecture Exhibition became a six-month-long appointment.
There are two goals: 1) to complete the system of the arts that La Biennale is devoted to (Art Cinema Theatre Dance Music) by engaging in the most political of all the arts; 2) to address the public with an informative as well as pedagogical-political function.
Showing how something "can be done differently" is in itself a gesture against dependence and conformism.
The goal is therefore that of promoting the "desire" for architecture.

Architecture as the Source of Public Goods

Through architecture what we create for private use becomes the structure of public space.
Architecture is a tool that can be used to best characterize each human being as a citizen.
Architecture is used to produce public goods.
Public goods by nature can either be the result of a public action or manifest themselves as a gift; Architecture, then, needs social awareness, as well as the political ability of a community, or the generosity of the individual.
One thing is for sure, without architecture we are all worse off.
The absence of architecture in the poorest areas of the world aggravates their poverty, greatly reducing the positive effects of urbanization.
The absence of architecture in more fortunate areas aggravates the imbalance between monetary wealth and the quality of civil life.
Talking about options for architecture means talking about our artists' and architects' projects, but also about our political and institutional systems, our laws, recognized rights, the ability to implement them, about vita activa, and about our culture.

A chain of Biennales

A huge variety of themes to be dealt with in an exhibition are unlocked. All the Biennales that have taken place so far have offered us different points of view.
The advantage of La Biennale being a recurring event also lies in the fact that each of these events can deal with a specific theme, make bold choices, and underscore particular points of view; and it is thanks to such individual visions that a dialogue lasting for years comes to life.
The focus of this edition curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara is the question of space, the quality of space, open and free space.
With great clarity we indicate the fundamental parameter of reference.
The desire to create FREESPACE can become the specific individual characteristic of each individual project.
But space, free space, public space can also reveal the presence or absence of architecture, if we understand architecture to be "thinking applied to the space where we live, that we inhabit".
And the International Architecture Exhibition will offer us examples, teachings, and topics of discussion. Therefore, we are thankful to Farrell and McNamara for having accepted our invitation and for the choice, which adds an important link to the chain of Exhibitions held over the years.

The Exhibition

The facts and figures enclosed provide information about the programme planned for the six months of the Exhibition.
There will be 65 participating countries whose curators have had the chance to communicate with the Biennale's own Curators.
Let me remind that unlike World Expo’s, La Biennale di Venezia does not undertake any form of promotional activity to attract the countries that participate in their pavilions. The official authorities of each of the countries make their choices freely.
And by the way let me also remind that no advertising campaign is carried out.
The public will also be allowed to attend the “Meetings on Architecture” with the architects invited to take part in the Exhibition (these include 10 meetings). The chance to hear from the artists and architects themselves has by now become a hallmark of all Biennales.
Young architecture graduates will be stationed throughout the Exhibition ready to assist visitors and provide them with information (no longer mere custodians but an "active catalogue").
Groups of students and teachers from over 100 universities around the world will participate in the Biennale Sessions.

Beyond the Exhibition

During the Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia will also organize the International Festival of Contemporary Dance with the related College, to be held from 22 June to 1 July; the International Theatre Festival with the related College, from 20 July to 5 August; the International Venice Film Festival from 29 August to 8 September; the International Festival of Contemporary Music from 28 September to 7 October.

The spirit of research that inspires La Biennale is accentuated by the fact that it works in so many different sectors.

We first of all wish to thank the Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo, the Institutions in the territory that support La Biennale in various ways, the City of Venice, the Regione Veneto, the Archaeology, Fine Arts, and Landscape Services for the City of Venice and the Lagoon, the Military Marine.

We are especially grateful to our partner Rolex.

We wish to thank the sponsors who support and help us, and the donors, who have helped to make the 16th International Architecture Exhibition possible.

In particular, we wish to thank Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara and their entire team.

A final thank you for all the professionalism (within and around) La Biennale, that is  devoted to the realization and management of the Exhibition over its six-month duration.

Biennale Architettura
Biennale Architettura