"Down to Earth" curated by Francelle Cane and Marija Marić at the Biennale di Venezia
Luxembourg has been a regular participant at the International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia for the past 20 years, along with around 70 other countries. Since its launch in 1980, this event has been the main international meeting place for specialists in architecture, a discipline whose major contemporary trends it helps to showcase and define. As well as raising the profile of those involved, Luxembourg’s attendance allows it to contribute to international exchanges and debates on architecture, whose theoretical foundations and fields of application are constantly expanding.
In 2022, Luxembourg’s Ministry of Culture delegated curatorship of the Luxembourg Pavilion (architecture and art) to Kultur | lx – Arts Council Luxembourg, in collaboration with luca – Luxembourg Center for Architecture.
The winning team is made up of two curators, Francelle Cane and Marija Marić, surrounded by an Advisory Board and a team of contributors in the fields of scenography, content production and publishing.
About Down to Earth
From the development of human settlements on the Moon to the asteroid mining of rare mineral and metals—the wild imaginaries of extraction-driven growth have, quite literally, transcended the boundaries of the Earth. This displacement of resource exploitation from the exhausted Earth to its ‘invisible’ backstages—celestial bodies, planets, and ultimately, the Moon itself—calls for an urgent debate on the impact this shift will have on our understanding of land, resources and the commons. critically unpacks the project of space mining through the perspective of resources. It starts from the following questions: How does tDown to Earthhis new iteration of the space race, wrapped in the false promises of endlessly available resources, depart from the existing extractivist logic of capitalism and its destructive environmental and social effects on the ground? How will the ongoing privatisation of space, characterised by a sharp turn towards private companies as main actors in the exploitation of space resources, affect the current status of extraterrestrial bodies as a form of ‘planetary commons’? What are the materialities of space mining—its logistics, technologies, infrastructures and workers—and their relationship to the existing geopolitical power hierarchies? And finally, how are architects to mediate critically the ramifications of these material fictions, rooted in the existing paradigms of growth?
Designed as mock-ups of the Moon’s landscapes, ‘lunar laboratories’ have emerged in recent years as a default feature that many institutions and private companies around the world use as infrastructure for testing different mining technologies. However, within the context of speculative economies of the space mining industry, the role of the lunar laboratories seems to go beyond being merely spaces meant for carrying out scientific experiments, instead appearing also as media studios for the production of imagery of human technologies on the Moon. The exhibition Down to Earth uses the lunar laboratory as a site for unpacking the tech industry’s space exploration narratives. With the space of the Pavilion itself turned into a lunar laboratory, a stage where the performance of extraction takes place, Down to Earth focuses on the unveiling of the backstages of the space mining project, offering another way of seeing the Moon that goes beyond the current optics of the Anthropocene.
The 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia will take place from May 20 to November 26. The Luxembourg Pavilion is located at Arsenale (Sale d’Armi, 1st floor).