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Portrait of a woman
Lesley Lokko. photo: La Biennale di Venezia

An eye to the Biennale Architettura 2023 – Finland launches an open call 21 March

Architectural academic, educator and best-selling novelist Lesley Lokko has been appointed curator of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. An open call for exhibition concepts for the Pavilion of Finland will be launched in March.

Once again, the Board of La Biennale di Venezia has made an interesting appointment for curator of the Biennale Architettura. In addition to having a long career in architectural research and education, Lesley Lokko has written several best-selling novels. For the past thirty years, her work in both architecture and literature has looked at the relationship between race, culture, and space.

Lokko was born in Scotland and lived a part of her youth in Ghana, her father’s homeland. She studied architecture and got her PhD in London. After several teaching positions in architecture schools around the world, in 2015 Lokko founded the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg. In 2020, she established African Futures Institute, a postgraduate school of architecture and public events platform in Accra, Ghana. She is also co-founder of the UN Habitat Council on Urban Initiatives.

According to President Roberto Cicutto of La Biennale di Venezia, the appointment of Lesley Lokko as curator 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. Cicutto believes that this immersion in reality is the best way to dialogue with the questions raised by the 2021 Exhibition curated by Hashim Sarkis.

In December, Lokko stated that a new world order is emerging, with new centres of knowledge production and control. According to her, new audiences need to be offered new ways of observing space, form and place.

“After two of the most difficult and divisive years in living memory, 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. Speaking to you from the world’s youngest continent, I would like to thank President Cicutto and the entire team of La Biennale di Venezia for this bold, brave choice”. 

Read more on La Biennale di Venezia’s website through this link (opens in a new tab). 

The theme of the Biennale Architettura 2023 has not yet been announced, and Lokko’s background and work guide the way to some assumptions. Since the curator announcement in December, global security has tragically crumbled, which might affect the theme.

Open call for the Pavilion of Finland’s exhibition concepts

Archinfo Finland seeks for exhibition proposals to be presented in the Pavilion of Finland in 2023 through an open call. The application guidelines will be published on Archinfo’s website on 21 March, and the first phase of the open call will close on 24 April. The second phase will run from May to June. The selection panel will make their selection by the end of June 2022. The 18th International Architecture Exhibition will be held from 20 May to 26 November 2023.

The open call welcomes proposals from all multicultural and multidisciplinary teams with at least one member from Finland. Archinfo wishes the exhibition of the Pavilion of Finland to reflect the ways in which architecture can support inclusivity, wellbeing, sustainability and diversity.

More information about the open call can be found here: archinfo.fi/en/venice-biennale/open-call