In this interview, presented in collaboration with PLANE—SITE, Pierre Bélanger, curator of the Canadian contribution to the 2016 Venice Biennale—explains why Canada's practices of mining and extraction should be carefully understood for their architectural implications. Together with his firm OPSYS, Bélanger conceived of a miniaturized experience of an "inverted territorial intervention" so that Biennale visitors could personally experience and relate to "the complex ecologies and vast geopolitics of resource extraction."
As part of ArchDaily's coverage of the 2016 Venice Biennale, we are presenting a series of articles written by the curators of the exhibitions and installations on show.
At a scale of 1:1 billion, the geological map of the world reveals planetary scales of operation for the largest resource extraction nation on the planet whose foreign policy is borne from legacies as colony, as confederation, country, and now, as global resource empire. In its divine, legal power to separate surface rights from mineral rights, the royal domain of the government—the Crown—exercises supreme authority over 95% of its territory making it the biggest landlord in the world. Not surprisingly, its coat-of-arms, commonwealth, constitution, even its parliament building look practically the same, it shares the same Head of State—Queen Elizabeth II. As the last remaining royal monarchy in the Americas, Canada is the brainchild of Queen Victoria II, the most powerful woman in history, who grew the British Empire to unprecedented magnitude in late 19th century.