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Everything You Need to Know about the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023

CEO Khai Intela
Lesley Lokko, curator of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023 - Image © Jacopo Salvi. Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia On May 20th, 2023, the architecture world's eyes will turn to Venice for the highly...

Lesley Lokko, curator of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023

Lesley Lokko, curator of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023 - Image © Jacopo Salvi. Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

On May 20th, 2023, the architecture world's eyes will turn to Venice for the highly anticipated opening of the 18th edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale. This renowned event, curated by Lesley Lokko, promises to captivate and inspire. While ArchDaily has diligently covered the biennale, there are still some burning questions lingering in the minds of many. So, let's dive into the 10 most common queries and shed some light on what to expect.

1- When does the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023 begin?

Arsenale in Venice, Italy

Arsenale in Venice, Italy - Image © Giulio Squillacciotti. Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

For the general public, the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023 begins on Saturday, May 20th, and continues until Sunday, November 26th, with the exception of Mondays. Ticket prices are categorized as "early bird" until March 30th. A general ticket costs €20.50, while there are also options for 3-day access for €30.50. Check the official website for the latest ticket prices.

2- Where is the Venice Architecture Biennale held?

Arsenale in Venice, Italy

Arsenale in Venice, Italy - Image © Andrea Avezzù. Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

The main venues for this prestigious architectural event are the Giardini and the Arsenale in Venice. These spaces will host "The Laboratory of the Future," the international exhibition curated by Lesley Lokko, as well as most of the national pavilions. Additionally, various events will take place at different locations throughout the city.

3- Who is in charge of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023?

President of La Biennale di Venezia, Roberto Cicutto, and curator Lesley Lokko

President of La Biennale di Venezia, Roberto Cicutto, and curator Lesley Lokko - Image Courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

Renowned architect, academic, and novelist, Lesley Lokko, has the honor of curating the 18th International Exhibition of the Venice Architecture Biennale. Lokko was handpicked by La Biennale di Venezia, an organization chaired by Roberto Cicutto, a film producer and CEO of Luce Cinecittà.

4- What are the national pavilions at the Venice Biennale?

Pavilion of the United Arab Emirates, winner of the Golden Lion for Best National Participation in 2021

Pavilion of the United Arab Emirates, winner of the Golden Lion for Best National Participation in 2021 - Image © Frederico Torra for PLANE-SITE

National pavilions are physical spaces that showcase the official representation of different countries at the Venice Biennale. While participants in the international exhibition must adhere to the theme proposed by the curator, national curators have more freedom in their selection. This year, the Venice Architecture Biennale will feature 63 national participations, including debut appearances from Niger and Panama, as well as the return of the Vatican's pavilion with an intervention on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore.

5- Do all national pavilions have their own buildings at the Biennale?

Nordic countries' permanent pavilion, designed by Sverre Fehn in 1961

Nordic countries' permanent pavilion, designed by Sverre Fehn in 1961 - Image © Jelena990 | Shutterstock

No, not all countries have dedicated buildings for their national pavilions at the Venice Biennale. Over the years, 29 countries have constructed their own pavilions, while others pay a commission for their participation. However, having a pavilion doesn't guarantee participation in every edition. For example, Venezuela did not participate in the 2014 edition, despite having a constructed pavilion.

6- What is the difference between the national pavilions and the international exhibition at the Venice Architecture Biennale?

Austrian studio MAEID participating in the international exhibition of the Venice Biennale 2021

Austrian studio MAEID participating in the international exhibition of the Venice Biennale 2021 - Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu

The Venice Architecture Biennale is based on three pillars: national pavilions, the international exhibition, and collateral events. National pavilions allow countries to curate their own projects, while the international exhibition is curated by the biennale's curator. Moreover, collateral events are additional exhibitions and activities approved by the biennale curator. In the 2023 edition, curated by Lesley Lokko, you can expect the international exhibition to feature 89 architects, with a strong presence from Africa.

7- Who chooses the national curators of the Venice Architecture Biennale?

Curatorial team of the South Korean pavilion appointed by Arts Council Korea (ARKO)

Curatorial team of the South Korean pavilion appointed by Arts Council Korea (ARKO) - Image © Ugo Carmeni

The selection process for national curators varies from country to country. Some countries have associations between state institutions that make the choice, while others have public calls supported by ministries. For example, in Spain, Argentina, and Chile, public calls are made, while Het Nieuwe Instituut (HNI) chooses on behalf of the Netherlands. In Brazil, it is the São Paulo Biennial Foundation responsible for the selection process.

8- Who are the members of the Jury of the Venice Architecture Biennale?

The jury for the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale has yet to be announced. Traditionally, the jury is revealed just a few days before the event's inauguration. In previous editions, the jury consisted of esteemed architects and professionals from various countries. For instance, the 2021 jury included Kazuyo Sejima, Sandra Barclay, Lamia Joreige, Luca Molinari, and the curator Lesley Lokko herself.

9- Does the Venice Architecture Biennale give out awards?

Spanish architect Rafael Moneo receiving the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2021 Venice Biennale

Spanish architect Rafael Moneo receiving the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2021 Venice Biennale - Image © Germán Saiz

Absolutely! The Venice Biennale's jury recognizes outstanding contributions with awards. They present the prestigious Golden Lion for Best National Participation, the Golden Lion for Best Participant in the International Exhibition, and the Silver Lion for a Promising Young Participant in the International Exhibition. These awards will be announced on Saturday, May 20, 2023, with the exception of the Lifetime Achievement Golden Lion, which is revealed months prior to the opening.

10- Why is the prize of the Venice Architecture Biennale a sculpture of a lion?

Iñaqui Carnicero and Carlos Quintáns receiving the Golden Lion for Best National Participation for the Spanish pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale

Iñaqui Carnicero and Carlos Quintáns receiving the Golden Lion for Best National Participation for the Spanish pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale - Image © Pola Mora

The tradition of awarding the Golden Lion dates back to 1949 when it made its first appearance as the prize for the Venice Art Biennale. The lion symbolizes St. Mark, the patron saint of Venice and a prominent figure in the city's history. The lion also represents the Republic of Venice, which ceased to exist in 1797 after Napoleon's conquest. This majestic sculpture serves as a fitting symbol of excellence and recognition for outstanding architectural achievements.

We invite you to stay tuned to ArchDaily's coverage of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023. It's an event not to be missed, where innovation, creativity, and architectural wonders converge in the magical city of Venice.

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