What is going on with the exhibitions that were taking place in the close future?
2020 comes defined by the restrictions and limitations of a situation that reached every corner of the world. Post-pandemic and new normal are the definitions for our reality now. Nothing remains the same yet, at the same time, everything has to carry on.
So how is the architectural exhibition programme for 2020 and 2021 supposed to keep afloat? Are there going to be any key differences? Will they mark a new era in the field of architectural display?
Some of the biggest and most renowned exhibitions of the field have been irremediably affected by the pandemic. Events such as the Serpentine Gallery, the Venice Biennale, or the London Festival of Architecture (LFA) have already posted their latest COVID-19 announcements regarding the course of their activity for the upcoming months.
Nothing is as planned. But maybe this is something that needed to change in order to explore new possibilities and invest in alternative performance ways. Through the following examples, we will see solutions that had never been thought possible before. We will see options that only last year would have sounded almost utopian, and have come to be a feasible solution in these challenging times.
1. LONDON FESTIVAL OF ARCHITECTURE – LFA
The London Festival of Architecture, which is held every June in the British capital, is one of the most international architecture festivals. The fact that it takes place in the epicenter of European tourism with over 20 million visitors a year, is a clear forecast for success. But what happens when tourism is restricted and most of the young, active, and international population of the city has fled in search of the comfort of their hometowns and family homes?
Although it may initially sound like something negative, this audience change has turned out to be more of a benefit. The committee has opted for two parallel solutions that will help to deal with the new requirements: on the one hand, the festival season is going to be extended up to autumn, giving it more time for the people to go and visit the exhibitions when they feel safe. On the other hand, they have turned to the digitalization of their events.
Now more than ever, it is the time for digital transformation, and lockdown has been the trigger to this transition. Now we need to be connected from the safety of our homes, we need to keep in touch with all that matters to us, and this is only an opportunity for the field to reach a bigger scope. LFA 2020 will be held for the first time on a digital format too.keeping the June 1st-30th dates athttps://www.londonfestivalofarchitecture.org/digital/
“Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen hundreds of more events submitted to our Curation Panel for consideration for this year’s festival in June. We have been overwhelmed at the impressive range of events being lined up for this year’s festival” – These words by the LFA organizers reflect how the exceptional situation has affected the artistic community. Now more than ever, it is time for hard work and participation.
2. SERPENTINE GALLERY
Still, within the borders of London, another notorious event takes place every year, attracting visitors from all over the world.
The Serpentine Gallery has taken place uninterruptedly for 19 years. This year, we have witnessed an exception. For the first time in almost two decades and after having the studio Counterspace commissioned with the design of it, the event will be moving forward one year.
The exact same place and dates next year will be filled with this year’s pavilion. But rather than postponing an exhibition that could have perfectly met the deadlines in time, the project is now conceived as a more complex two-year process. During that time, the South African practice will still be active, carrying out field research and developing the proposal according to it. At all times, they will be working hand by hand with the curatorial panel of the Serpentine.
Although this process does not directly involve us as spectators, we have the hope that we will be presented with a unique result, and that next year we will be able to see something innovative, differential, and reflection of a situation that the world has never gone through before.
3. VENICE BIENNALE
This list could not lack the world-famous Venice Biennale. If you have had the chance to walk through the Arsenale and the Giardini spaces during the exhibition months, you will know that it is a magnificent experience that surrounds you with architecture. It is not just the show, it is the environment. It is hearing everyone around and their critiques; it is being impacted by the sky, the sea, and the nature’s noises that stage the buildings.
Unfortunately, 2020 will not be a year to enjoy such an experience. The 17th architecture edition of the Biennale, curated by Hashim Sarkis under the topic “How Will We Live Together?” has been announced to be postponed to 2021. The decision has been made after realizing it would not be possible to keep up with the high-quality standards in a reduced time frame.
Taking into consideration that this is a cooperation event where architects come together from all over the globe to work together and experiment, these extra months will be full of online events and activities for everyone, keeping the topic question as the center of all of them.
While most architectural events have lately been turned down and canceled; this exceptional situation is providing us with the chance to approach this field in a different way. We now have the chance to take part in events that were totally off-limits before. Would you have dreamed of participating in activities from the LFA or Venice Biennale before? Geography and prestige are not a restriction anymore.
All these changes are working towards the community of architects together in spite of culture or religion matters. 2020 is a year marked by tragedy and lockdown, but it is also a year marked by positive change, and architecture is being awake to benefit from it.