The Australian Institute of Architects has selected the proposal for exhibition at the Australian Pavilion at the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale.
Entitled Unsettling Queenstown, the exhibition engages the themes of decolonisation and decarbonisation through the lens of ‘Queenstown’, a place both real and metaphorical, to explore and reimagine through architecture the complex relations between people, place, and history in contemporary Australia.
The space of the Australian pavilion in Venice will be transformed into an immersive experience in which the arched belvedere of the Empire Hotel from Queenstown Tasmania, reconstructed in woven mesh, floats above the floor – a ghost of the colonial past both monumental and evanescent.
This colonial ghost is surrounded by large images of the natural and built landscape, immersing the viewer in the lived environment of Queenstown. The floor, patterned with lineaments of settlement and strewn with the broken residue of middens and mines, evokes the colonial map inscribed upon Country. An expansive vertical surface, unseen as you enter the pavilion and encountered only the return journey or via a backward glance, is the Open Archive. This serves as the threshold and portal of the exhibition, supporting the field of possibilities and stories from which the future is built and told.
Anthony Coupe, of the Creative Director team, says ”through these elements and evocations, the exhibition presents an interrogation of settler-colonial processes of invasion, dispossession, institutionalisation and extraction, which have historically provided little justice to Indigenous peoples and have systematically degraded the earth”.
“It is also a call to action, inviting architects, designers and First Nations communities to contribute to an “open archive” of possible design processes and ethical relationships that can offer insight and approaches into how to improve our collective futures” Mr Coupe says
The Open Archive aims to showcase tactics and devices from the field of architecture being employed to:
- incorporate First Nation knowledge systems into design;
- promote listening, attunement and dialogue between people and place;
- make spaces more inclusive and resonant;
- connect with time, memory and experience;
- incorporate processes open to unfolding and change.
The curatorial team – Ali Gumillya Baker, Anthony Coupe, Emily Paech, Sarah Rhodes and Julian Worrall – are balanced across the fields of architecture and art; scholarship and practice; and Kaurna Country/Adelaide and Lutruwita/Tasmania. In their interaction and intersection, the team is engaging directly with the opportunity for creative encounter across difference opened up by the decolonisation theme.
Ultimately, Unsettling Queenstown is an exhibition about how we can live well together, in time and on Country.
The 18th International Venice Architecture Biennale will run from May 18 – November 26, 2023, in Venice, Italy, and will feature architectural concepts from over 60 countries.
For more information please contact:
Nikki Massadi, National Manager – Events
Australian Institute of Architects
+61 424 433 121