Home » ‘The UAE’s political will to use culture is inspiring’: Lokko, Curator of Biennale Architettura

‘The UAE’s political will to use culture is inspiring’: Lokko, Curator of Biennale Architettura

by Dubai Forum
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By Guendalina Dainelli

VENICE, 29th May, 2023 (WAM) — “The political will to use culture in an intelligent and thoughtful way is inspiring,” said Lesley Lokko, curator of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia Venice Architecture Biennale, referring to the UAE’s national policy and strategy, during an interview to Emirates News Agency (WAM) in Venice.

On the sidelines of the International press conference held at the opening of Biennale Architettura 2023, Lokko expressed admiration for the artistic momentum many Arab Gulf countries are experiencing.

With regards to the first-ever Islamic Arts Biennale opened in Jeddah in January she said, “It was incredible, 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 added.

The theme of Biennale Architettura 2023, “The Laboratory of the Future,” aims to shine a spotlight on Africa and the African Diaspora, shifting the focus from the Eurocentric view. This is a perspective that the Scottish-Ghanaian architect, academic, and writer Lokko, the first curator of African origin, wanted to bring to international attention.

Lokko shared her emotions about the role that she was in, set to make history at the Architecture Biennale as the first curator with African origins, and her ambition to explore the continent’s impact on the globe. She said, “Growing up in Africa, I realised the world that I saw in literature, films, magazines, and the arts was not the world that I knew. It was not the world that I came from. So, my whole career, both in writing and in architecture, has been about bringing my world to this world. When an opportunity comes in a place like this to have a platform to talk about ourselves to the rest of the world, it is an opportunity you can’t turn down.”

Lokko invites everyone to be “an agent of change”. Words like “laboratory, workshop, practices, practitioners” are recurrent terms in the Biennale’s wording.

She added that the physical, almost tactile aspect of the exhibition is instrumental in enhancing critical thinking and, ultimately, shaping the future. “I have never understood words and things as separated. For me, language is physical, my favourite writers grapple with language. So the opportunity to tell a story was very much about words and images. Words are a bridge between imagination and the physical reality.”

Lokko commenting on the National Pavilion UAE’s exhibition, “Aridly Abundant”, curated by Faysal Tabbarah, discussed how Aridly Abundant investigates what architectural possibilities can become possible when we reimagine arid landscapes as spaces of abundance. The suggestions that come from distant places can be a source of great inspiration, she said. “I am very curious to see how other geographies, how being in another geography influences how we think about resources.”

“Airdly Abundant” exhibition by the National Pavilion is now open to the public at the UAE’s permanent space at La Biennale di Venezia’s Arsenale – Sale d’Armi, until 26th November, 2023.


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