The Venice Biennale, also known as the Società di Cultura la Biennale di Venezia in Italian, is a summertime, twice-yearly, worldwide art show that includes architecture, visual arts, cinema, dance, music, and theater. The International Exhibition of Art of the City of Venice, which later became the Biennale, was established in 1895 to promote “the noblest activities of the contemporary spirit without distinction of nationality.” Artists from 16 nations participated in the first Biennale, which received international acclaim and drew more than 200,000 visitors.

Gabriela de Matos and Paulo Tavares Will Be the Curators of the Brazil Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023 - Sheet1
Gabriela de Matos and Paulo Tavares_© Levi Fanan and Diego Bresani / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

The International Film Festival was added to the event in 1932, and the International Theatre Festival was added in 1934. It rose to prominence as the premier exhibition venue for modern and contemporary art after World War II. The Biennale focused on displaying four genres for more than 100 years—art, theater, music, and film—but in 1998 it added architecture and dance. To improve programming efficiency and draw funding from private partners, the festival’s sponsoring organization was reorganized into a foundation in 2004. At the start of the twenty-first century, it frequently drew over 300,000 people.

Gabriela de Matos and Paulo Tavares Will Be the Curators of the Brazil Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023 - Sheet2
 la Biennale_© https://www.labiennale.org/en/news/early-bird-ticket-sales-now-available-biennale-architettura-2023

Biennale Architettura 2023 “Laboratory of the Future” [the 18th international architecture exhibition] will be held from Saturday, 20 May, to Sunday, 26 November 2023 (pre-opening May 18 and 19), and will be curated by academic, educator, and best-selling novelist Lesley Lokko.

Gabriela de Matos and Paulo Tavares, who have extensive experience in research and curation, will curate the Brazilian Pavilion. The curators were chosen through a closed call for projects to represent the Brazilian Pavilion. Their works take a transversal approach that engages with race, gender, pedagogy, and visual culture studies. The theme Terra “Earth” will serve as the foundation for the Brazilian Pavilion.

Gabriela de Matos

Gabriela de Matos and Paulo Tavares Will Be the Curators of the Brazil Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023 - Sheet3
 Gabriela de Matos_© Levi Fanan and Diego Bresani / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

Gabriela de Matos is an Afro-Brazilian architect and urban planner who was born in Vale do Rio Doce, Minas Gerais, and creates multidisciplinary projects that promote and highlight Brazilian architectural and urban culture through the lens of race and gender. She graduated from PUC Minas’ Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo in 2010, and in 2016 she specialized in sustainability and built environment management at UFMG. She is a master’s degree candidate at Diversitas – Center for the Study of Diversities, Intolerances, and Conflicts at the Universidade de So Paulo’s Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH), and she currently teaches architecture and urbanism at Escola da Cidade. She is the founder and CEO of Estdio de Arquitetura – Gabriela de Matos, which she founded in 2014. She is the vice president of the Instituto de Arquitetos do Brasil’s So Paulo department and the founder of the project Arquitetas negras, which maps the production of black Brazilian architects. De Matos focuses on architecture produced in Africa and its diaspora, with a particular emphasis on Brazil. She proposes, among other things, actions that promote the debate on gender and race in architecture as a means of bringing the issue to light. She edited the book Arquitetas negras vol.1, which is in major collections such as the Library of Washington (United States), and won the IAB SP Award for Best Architecture Publications. In 2019, she collaborated with the Rebel Architecture collective in Italy, and she spoke at the 2021 UIA – International Union of Architects. She created the Espaço Agô reception area for the 2021 edition of the CASACOR exhibition. IAB RJ named her Architect of the Year 2020, and she served as a juror for the 2022 Ibero-American Biennale of Architecture.

Paulo Tavares

Gabriela de Matos and Paulo Tavares Will Be the Curators of the Brazil Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023 - Sheet4
Paulo Tavares_© Levi Fanan and Diego Bresani / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

Paulo Tavares investigates the intersections of architecture, visual cultures, curatorial practice, theory, and advocacy. His work, which employs a variety of media and mediums, creates a collaborative arena centered on environmental justice and counter-hegemonic narratives in architecture. His projects and articles have appeared in a variety of national and international exhibitions and publications, including Harvard Design Magazine, The Architectural Review, the Oslo Architecture Triennial, the Istanbul Design Biennale, and the 32nd Bienal de S. Paulo – Incerteza viva. Tavares was a co-curator of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennale (USA) and is currently a member of the Sharjah Architecture Triennale 2023 curatorial board (UAE). At the Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia (MAAT) in Lisbon, Portugal, he was the curator of the projects Acts of Repair (Preston Thomas Memorial Symposium, Cornell University, USA) and Climate Emergency > Emergence. Tavares is the author of several texts and books that challenge modernity’s colonial legacies, such as Forest Law/Selva Jurdica (2014), Des-Habitat (2019), Memória da Terra (2019), Lcio Costa era racista? (2020), and Derechos no-humanos (2020). (2022).

Terra “Earth”

Gabriela de Matos and Paulo Tavares Will Be the Curators of the Brazil Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023 - Sheet5
Laboratory of the Future_© Fred Swart

“Earth is a central motif in conceptions, imaginaries, and narratives of national formation and representation in Brazil. Idealized and racialized visions of tropical nature shaped nationality representations… Earth is also a central theme in the indigenous and Afro-Brazilian cosmologies, philosophies, and narratives that make up the majority of the national cultural matrix “said Gabriela de Matos and Paulo Tavares

“However, in this approach, the concept of the earth appears in a different light, as an ancestor that leads us to cultural geographies both within and beyond Brazil. It alludes to a different sense of earth and territory, such as belonging, cultivation, rights, reparation, and other Brazilian imaginaries “De Matos and Tavares went on.

“The curatorial proposal is based on these reflections and their current relevance to consider Brazil as Earth. Soil, farm, ground, territory, and terreiro are all terms used to describe the earth. But also Earth in its broadest and most cosmic sense, as a planet and the common home of all life, human and non-human.”

“Earth as memory and future, looking to the past and heritage to rethink the field of architecture in the face of the most pressing contemporary urban, territorial, and environmental issues,” the curators added.

“The Biennale di Venezia International Architecture Exhibition is a privileged space for debating the most urgent subjects in architecture and urbanism, a field that ultimately reflects on our dynamics of life as a society from the use and sharing of common spaces,” said José Olympio da Veiga Pereira, president of the Fundaço Bienal de So Paulo.

“At a time when humanity is facing major challenges, the exhibition proposed by Gabriela de Matos and Paulo Tavares is a way of bringing to light research and practices that can contribute to the collective shaping of our future,” he added.

“La Biennale di Venezia itself is also a kind of laboratory of the future, a time and space in which speculations about the discipline’s relevance to this world — and the world to come — take place. We envision our exhibition as a kind of workshop, a laboratory where architects and practitioners from a broad range of creative disciplines draw examples from their current practices to chart a path for the audience — participants and visitors alike — to weave through, imagining for themselves what the future might hold,” Lokko said.

References

La Biennale Venezia: Early Bird ticket sales are now available for the Biennale Architettura 2023 [online] Available at: https://www.labiennale.org/en/news/early-bird-ticket-sales-now-available-biennale-architettura-2023 [Accessed date: 08 January 2023].

World Architecture: Gabriela De Matos and Paulo Tavares to Curate Brazilian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2023 Available at: https://worldarchitecture.org/architecture-news/engnz/gabriela-de-matos-and-paulo-tavares-to-curate-brazilian-pavilion-at-venice-biennale-2023.html [Accessed date: 06 January 2023].

Britannica: Venice-Biennale Available at: https://www.britannica.com/art/Venice-Biennale [Accessed date: 06 January 2023].

Bienal: Get to know the next curators of the Brazilian pavilion in the Venice architecture biennale Available at: http://www.bienal.org.br/post/10356 [Accessed date: 08 January 2023].

Author

Chan Simon is a fresh architecture school graduate from the University of Juba with a passion for evening the playing field. He is currently a design studio teaching assistant in the architecture department at the School of Architecture, Land Management, Urban and Regional Planning (University of Juba).

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