‘The UAE’s political resolve to employ culture is inspiring’: Biennale Architettura curator 2023

During an interview in Venice with Emirates News Agency (WAM), curator of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia Venice Architecture Biennale Lesley Lokko praised the United Arab Emirates’ national policy and strategy, praising “the political will to use culture in an intelligent and thoughtful way.”

Lokko was speaking in reference to the UAE’s national policy and strategy. “The political will to use culture in an intelligent and thoughtful way is inspiring,” she said.

During a break in the proceedings at the international press conference that was conducted to mark the beginning of the Biennale Architettura 2023, Lokko expressed his enthusiasm for the cultural energy that several nations in the Arab Gulf are currently experiencing.

The UAE’s political resolve to employ cultural inspires.

She expressed this in reference to the very first Islamic Arts Biennale, which opened in Jeddah in the month of January. “It was incredible,” she remarked, “the level of energies, how arts and culture shape society.”

“Also in the UAE and Abu Dhabi, seeing the building of major architectures, this political will to use culture in an intelligent and thoughtful way is inspiring,” she continued. “This political will to use culture in an intelligent and thoughtful way is driving the construction of the Louvre Abu Dhabi.”

By changing the focus away from a Eurocentric perspective and placing more of an emphasis on Africa and the African Diaspora, the organizers of the Biennale Architettura 2023 have chosen the subject “The Laboratory of the Future.” The Scottish-Ghanaian architect, academic, and writer Lokko, who was also the first curator of African ancestry, had the intention of bringing this viewpoint to the notice of people all over the world.

Lokko discussed her feelings on the job that she was in, which was about to create history at the Architecture Biennale as the first curator with African origins, as well as her desire to investigate the influence that the African continent has had on the rest of the world. She explained, “Growing up in Africa, I became aware that the world I saw depicted in books, movies, magazines, and the arts was not the world that I knew.”

UAE’s political resolve to exploit culture is impressive.

This was not the world in which I had been raised. Consequently, the focus of my whole career, in both writing and construction, has been on translating the world of my imagination into the real one. When the chance presents itself in a setting such as this to have a platform on which to communicate about ourselves to the rest of the world, it is an opportunity that you just cannot pass up.

Everyone is encouraged to be “an agent of change” according to Lokko. In the text pertaining to the Biennale, phrases such as “laboratory,” “workshop,” “practices,” and “practitioners” appear more than once.

She went on to say that the exhibition’s tangible presence, which is so close to being tactile, contributes significantly to the development of critical thinking and, eventually, the formation of the future. “I have never thought of words and objects as being in two different categories.

For me, language has a physical quality, and many of the authors I admire most struggle with words. Therefore, the possibility to create a tale focused mostly on the use of words and pictures. The power of words lies in their ability to connect ideas with concrete experience.

Commenting on the exhibition “Aridly Abundant” held at the National Pavilion in the United Arab Emirates and organized by Faysal Tabbarah, Lokko stated how the show analyzes what architectural possibilities might become conceivable when we reinvent arid landscapes as areas of plenty. Aridly Abundant was curated by Faysal Tabbarah.

According to what she had indicated, the recommendations that originate in far-flung locations might be an excellent source of inspiration. “I am very curious to see how other geographies, as well as physically being in another geography, influences how we think about resources.”

The exhibition “Airdly Abundant” by the National Pavilion is currently available to the public in the UAE’s permanent location at the Arsenale – Sale d’Armi at La Biennale di Venezia. The show will remain open until the 26th of November, 2023.

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