by Anmol AhujaSep 17, 2021
Every year the Venice Architecture Biennale awards a series of citations to key installations and projects. Because of the intensity and rigour of the ideas and concepts explored at the biennale, one often forgets that there is a competitive element involved. For every iteration of the Venice biennales, whether art or architecture, there is an International Jury appointed by the Board of Directors of La Biennale di Venezia on the recommendation of the Curator, which this year is Hashim Sarkis. The panel is tasked to award the Golden Lion, in two basic categories - the best National Participation and the best participation in the International Exhibition. The Jury also awards a third Silver Lion, to a promising young participant in the International Exhibition. The jury may also announce special mention for both the National Participations and International Exhibition.
On Monday, August 30, 2021, the panel announced the following recipients. Starting with the special mentions, the Cave_bureau: The Anthropocene Museum: Exhibit 3.0 Obsidian Rain received a special mention among the International Exhibitions. Pavilion of RUSSIA: OPEN! and Pavilion of Philippines: Structures of Mutual Support, both received a special mention among National Pavilions. The prestigious Silver Lion was awarded to the Foundation for Achieving Seamless Territory (FAST) for their exhibition titled Watermelons, Sardines, Crabs, Sands, and Sediments: Border Ecologies and the Gaza Strip. The Golden Lion for the International Exhibition went to Berlin-based raumlaborberlin for their installation Instances of Urban Practice, and Pavilion of United Arab Emirates won for their installation Wetland.
This year's panel included Kazuyo Sejima in the role of President. The Pritzker Prize laureate curated the Biennale Architettura in 2010. It was the same year Sejima, along with Ryue Nishizawa, and their firm SANAA, was awarded the Pritzker. She was accompanied by Peruvian architect, Sandra Barclay, whose practice is split between Lima and Paris. Barclay was the co-curator for the Peruvian Pavilion in 2016, which won a Special Mention by the Jury. Lamia Joreige is a visual artist and filmmaker who lives and works in Beirut. She is the co-founder and co-director of the Beirut Art Center, she brings her unique perspective of architecture and the city as cultural material to the panel. Lesley Lokko, a successful architect and writer who lives between Johannesburg, London, Accra and Edinburgh, is also the founder and director of the Graduate School of Architecture of the University of Johannesburg (2014-2019) and Dean of the Spitzer School of Architecture City College of New York (2019-2021). Completing the panel is Luca Molinari, an architect, historian, critic, journalist and curator; he was the curator of the Italian Pavilion at the 12th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.
The Board of Directors of La Biennale di Venezia and Curator Hashim Sarkis have already announced two Special Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement. One was awarded to Italian-born Brazilian modernist architect Lina Bo Bardi was awarded the Special Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in memoriam. In an official statement on the recommendation, Sarkis stated, “If there is one architect who embodies most fittingly the theme of the Biennale Architettura 2021, it is Lina Bo Bardi. Her career as a designer, editor, curator, and activist reminds us of the role of the architect as convener and importantly, as the builder of collective visions.”
The other was awarded to Rafael Moneo, who was felicitated at the opening of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021. Acknowledged as a practitioner, an educator, and a critic of the contemporary scene of architecture, Moneo has written on emerging phenomena and key projects and has established some of the most important dialogues on the present scene of architecture with colleagues from around the world. Sarkis even called him “one of the most transformative architects of his generation".Click here to read more about STIRring Together, a series by STIR that introduces readers to the many facets of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021.
To learn more about the programs of the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, visit www.labiennale.org/en/architecture/2021