The 59th edition of the Venice Biennale, formerly scheduled for 2021, has been postponed to the following year. The international art show’s next iteration will now run for seven months, from April 23 to November 27, 2022, overlapping with the 15th edition of the contemporary art quinquennial Documenta in Kassel, Germany.
Cecilia Alemani, chief curator of New York City’s High Line, was tapped to curate the 59th Biennale. Among the confirmed names for the show so far are the multimedia artist Stan Douglas for the Canadian Pavilion; Latifa Echakhch for the Swiss Pavilion; and Zineb Sedira, the first artist of Algerian descent to represent France at the biennial.
The move to push back the art biennale came after the definitive postponement of the forthcoming International Architecture Exhibition, originally slated to take place this year, due to scheduling conflicts and logistical complications posed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. How Will We Live Together?, the architecture biennial’s 17th edition curated by Hashim Sarkis, will now be held from May 22 to November 21, 2021.
This is the second time the architecture biennial has been postponed. Originally meant to open this month, its inauguration was moved to August as an earlier opening date would “jeopardize its quality.” The new 2021 dates represent a return to the customary six-month duration for the biennial after its organizers had cut the run of the show to three months in an attempt to move forward with the event this year.
“The decision to postpone the Biennale Architettura to May 2021 is an acknowledgment that it is impossible to move forward — within the set time limits — in the realization of such a complex and worldwide exhibition, due to the persistence of a series of objective difficulties caused by the effects by the health emergency underway,” reads a statement on the Biennale’s website.
The postponement of the two major exhibitions exemplifies the setbacks to the art world calendar that will undoubtedly become increasingly common. Among the reasons cited for the architecture show’s postponement are difficulties in the realization and transport of works as well as travel constraints.
“We did not plan it this way. Neither the question I asked, How will we live together?, nor the wealth of ways in response to it, were meant to address the crisis they are living, but here we are,” said Sarkis. “We are in some ways fortunate because we are well equipped to absorb the immediate and longer-term implications of the crisis into the Biennale Architettura 2021. The theme does also provide us with the possibility to respond to the pandemic in its immediacy.”
Despite the show’s adjournment, a series of activities and events related to the biennial is still planned for this fall, says Sarkis. Additionally, other exhibitions under the Biennale’s umbrella will take place as scheduled this year: the 77th Venice International Film Festival, the 48th International Theatre Festival, the 64th International Festival of Contemporary Music, and the 14th International Festival of Contemporary Dance have thus far not been postponed.
La Biennale di Venezia has not yet responded to Hyperallergic’s immediate request for comment.
So the Venice Architecture Biennale has been offered this enormous one-time opportunity for history-making change to encourage people to stop doing so much international air travel and to stop the destruction of Venice.
Rather than taking the long view and perhaps investigating global partnerships, decentralized exhibitions, online events, etc. — the Venice Architecture Biennale has fixated on replicating the old normal. They’ve made it clear they feel that architects don’t bear the same responsibility as mere mortals for over-tourism, the physical destruction of Venice, carbon footprints, pollution, or being vectors of contagion. That is their biggest over-arching “theme.”
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