Inauguration of the Luxembourg pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia
Following a month of assembly, the Sale d’Armi of the Arsenale in Venice, which has hosted the Luxembourg pavilion of the art and architecture biennials since 2018, finally opened its doors to the public on the 20th of May. Down to Earth, the exhibition developed by architects, curators and researchers Francelle Cane and Marija Marić, has received an outstanding response from both the press and visitors.
The opening week of the Venice Architecture Biennale represents a special moment for the professionals who attend, between a family reunion and a giant symposium, drawing in all the profiles, emerging or confirmed, and all the trends in architectural research. The professional days are important for those who defend a project, both to expand their network and to attract media attention.
During this marathon, the two curators Francelle Cane and Marija Marić conducted a series of interviews with the national and international press, before officially inaugurating the Luxembourg pavilion on the 18th of May, in the presence of H.R.H. Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, Sam Tanson, Minister of Culture, H.E. Michèle Pranchère-Tomassini, Luxembourg’s Ambassador to Rome, and more than two hundred Luxembourg and foreign guests.
A national pavilion focused on the issue of resources
Starting from Luxembourg’s role in the development of space mining, the exhibition Down to Earth by Francelle Cane and Marija Marić, critically explores what goes on behind the scenes of the space industry and the media and scientific narratives on which its future development is based. Conceived as a Lunar laboratory – research spaces designed to test space robots in real life but also serving as media studios for the promotion of of the race to space – the exhibition in the Luxembourg pavilion draws on contributions from numerous researchers, artists and collaborators.
The scenographic elements developed during the collective research process offer three ways of understanding the subject through a film, a workshop and a book. Armin Linke’s film Cosmic Market, made in collaboration with the Pavilion’s curators, shows the links between scientific research and the different interpretations of space legislation, between technological development and the creation of new markets, both on Earth and beyond. A collaboration between the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) and the Luxembourg Pavilion, the workshop “How to: mind the moon” takes as its starting point a reflection on five lunar materials, sketching out a new type of “materials library” in which humour is not absent. The book Staging the Moon, a stand-alone piece published by Spector Books (Leipzig; design: Studio OK-RM), contains critical essays by the two curators, as well as contributions by Armin Linke and photographer Ronni Campana.
Down to Earth thus presents in an immersive and inventive way the results of essential research into the question of resource exploitation, which fits perfectly with the theme of the Biennale’s international exhibition “Laboratory of the Future”, curated by Lesley Lokko. Rooted in the blind spots of official history, the international exhibition places architectural reflection under the sign of imagination, its main factor of change, and of ethics, which must guide us in our approach to the common space where we draw our resources.
This topic was at the heart of “(Re) penser les ressources“, a francophone discussion organised by the Belgian Pavilion in which the women curators participated on Saturday the 20th of May, alongside contributors and curators from the Belgian, Canadian and French pavilions.
Awards in line with the artistic direction
The jury of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, composed of Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli (president, Italy), Nora Akawi (Palestine), Thelma Golden (United States), Tau Tavengwa (Zimbabwe) and Izabela Wieczorek (Poland), determined a list of winners that perfectly reflected the key themes of the Biennale: “decolonization and decarbonization”.
The Golden Lion for the best national participation was awarded to Brazil for an exhibition based on research and “an architectural intervention centred on the philosophies and imaginaries of indigenous and black populations that considers the modalities of reparation”. A special mention as a national entry went to Great Britain for the curatorial concept and spatial setting “celebrating the power of everyday rituals as forms of resistance and spatial practices in diasporic communities”.
On the international side, the Golden Lion went to DAAR – Alessandro Petti and Sandi Hilal for “their longstanding political engagement with architectural and learning practices of decolonisation in Palestine and Europe”.
In addition, Demas Nwoko, a Nigerian-born artist, designer and architect, was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition. Demas Nwoko has been at the forefront of modern art in Nigeria. As an artist, he strives to incorporate contemporary techniques into architecture and scenography to highlight African subjects in much of his work. His work will be on display in the Stirling Pavilion in the Giardini.
For its first appointment as organiser and coordinator of the Luxembourg pavilion, Kultur | lx was able to rely on the experience of luca – Luxembourg Center for Architecture. In charge of the Luxembourg presence in Venice for both the Art and Architecture Biennials, Kultur | lx intends to further extend its contacts and capitalise upon the successful experience of this biennial.
Down to Earth, by Francelle Cane and Maria Marić can be seen until 26 November 2023, 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, Arsenale, Sale d’Armi A, 1st floor.