The Board of Directors of La Biennale di Venezia has appointed the curator of the 18th edition of the International Architecture Exhibition. On December 14 architect, writer and university lecturer Lesley Lokko was appointed as Director of the Architecture Department, with the specific task of curating the 2023 International Architecture Exhibition. On the same day, the Board also announced the new dates of the international event, set to take place from May 20 to November 26, 2023 with a pre-opening on May 18 and 19.
Speaking of herself, Lesley Lokko defined the appointment as a "bold and brave choice". A choice that has received international acclaim and positive comments for the great personality and the important curriculum of the Ghanaian-Scottish architect. Speaking on the subject, the President of the Venice Biennale Roberto Cicutto said: "The appointment of Lesley Lokko as curator of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition is a way of welcoming the gaze of an international personality who is able to interpret, through different roles, her own position in the contemporary debate on architecture and cities, which takes as its starting point her own experience immersed in a continent that is increasingly becoming a laboratory of experimentation and proposals for the whole contemporary world. I believe that this immersion in reality is the best way to dialogue with the questions raised by the 2021 Exhibition curated by Hashim Sarkis".
Lesley Lokko, born in Dundee in Scotland, but of Ghanaian descent, grew up in Africa and was educated in the United Kingdom. She splits her time between Accra, Ghana, and London, and has taught in the United Kingdom, the United States, Europe, Australia and Africa. In 2015, Lesley Lokko founded the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, and, in 2020, the African Futures Institute in Accra, a postgraduate school of architecture and public events platform that she continues to direct. She has received numerous awards for her important contributions to teaching architecture, the most recent being the RIBA Annie Spink Award for Excellence in Education 2020 and the AR Ada Louise Huxtable Prize for Contributions to Architecture 2021.
Lesley Lokko served as one of the members of the International Jury of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition curated by architect Hashim Sarkis. In her work, both in the architectural and literary fields, the relationship between "race, space and architecture" plays a central role, quoting the title of her White Papers, Black Marks: Race, Space and Architecture (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2000). As a writer, Lesley Lokko published her first novel, Sundowners, in 2004 while her twelfth book is expected to come out in 2023.
Accepting the new position and thanking the president and the Board of Directors of the Biennale, Lesley Lokko emphasised the need to interpret a new world order "with new centres of knowledge production and control". After the difficult two years of the pandemic, Lesley Lokko affirms, "architects have a unique opportunity to show the world what we do best: put forward ambitious and creative ideas that help us imagine a more equitable and optimistic future in common."
All images courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia, photo by Andrea Avezzù, Debra Hurford-Brown, Murdo Macleod
La Biennale di Venezia
18th International Architecture Exhibition
Date: from Saturday, May 20 to Sunday, November 26, 2023 (pre-opening May 18 and 19)
Location: Giardini and Arsenale, Venice - Italy.
Exhibition Photos by Andrea Avezzù
Portraits: (01) Murdo Macleod, (02) Debra Hurford-Brown
Official website of the Biennale di Venezia: www.labiennale.org