In Conflict, the Portuguese Official Representation at the 17th Architecture International Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia, 2021, is co-curated by Carlos Azevedo, João Crisóstomo, and Luís Sobral of depA architects, and Miguel Santos. The exhibition addresses public spaces as arenas of conflict, understood as the action of opposing forces translated as dissension. In Conflict responds directly to the question 'How will we live together?' posed by Hashim Sarkis, curator of the Biennale Architettura, and is based on seven architectural processes involving collective dwellings that were the subjects of broad media coverage and public involvement.
The exhibition focuses on the construction of democratic spaces, its tensions, and, according to many, its decline, catalyzed by the coronavirus pandemic that has been limiting the use of public spaces around the world for more than a year. The curators are also interested in analyzing public space as collective constructions, embracing plurality and dissent.
In order for the democratic space to best respond to our needs, we must continue to give a voice to everyone. We cannot live in a system managed from a false consensus. Consensus never existed, and the advantage of democracy is that it allows this lack of consensus to manifest itself. So we want to express this lack of consensus. Here we will find projects that are not very consensual. – depA architects
The Portuguese Pavilion will be divided into two complementary moments: exhibition and debate. The former provides a narrative of Portuguese architecture through democracy, based on seven processes affected by material destruction, social relocation, and popular participation. Aiming at making the message more accessible, the curators have chosen to portray architecture "in a less disciplinary manner, by selecting a wide range of projects that have been the subject of broad media coverage and public debate, with their struggles amplified by the press." These projects deal with the issue of dwelling, which is a "basic human right, and the in-depth analysis of which reveals the fragile situation that our society needs to overcome."
In order to live together we have to live in action. Therefore, we have to debate and give voice to the conflict generated by architecture. This is what allows us to build the democratic space, the space for action, which, in the end, allows us to resolve issues in the most peaceful way possible. Or, on the other hand, the discussion highlights open processes, which only shows the problems are not yet solved. That's what interests us to show here. – depA architects
The other side of Portugal's contribution to the Biennale consists of debates coordinated by a multidisciplinary team that includes Ana Jara, Anna Puigjaner, Fernanda Fragateiro, Jorge Carvalho, Miguel Cardina, and Moisés Puente. Six of the events in this section were selected through an international call that had the goal of attracting outside opinions to the discussion proposed by the curators.
The Portuguese pavilion, along with all the other national participations in Biennale Architettura 2021, will be open to the public from May 22 to November 21. Follow our complete coverage of the Venice Biennale here.