On May 20, 2023, the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia opened, curated for the first time by an African curator, the AFI’s Founder & Director Prof Lesley Lokko OBE. As the architectural journal Abitare noted, ‘the most crucial lesson of this exhibition is that the complexity of climate and demographic challenges requires a fourth dimension to design, that of utopia, thoroughly investigating reality, denouncing its distortions, imagining a better world.’
Over the past two years, Lokko worked with a team of curatorial assistants, researchers and her own team at the AFI to deliver the exhibition, which has been met with both critique and acclaim. Dr Gus Casely-Hayford, Director of V&A East in London said, ‘it was a beautiful, cathartic, rigorous, important Biennale that made so many people feel proud and reflected.’ Architect Patrik Schumacher complained that ‘there was no architecture.’ From dealing with visa denials by the Italian Embassy in Accra for members of her team, to having to raise funding for participants with no access to resources, Bringing the Biennale B(l)ack will explore the complex challenges, opportunities and moments of creativity and joy that the 89 participants have offered the world. The exhibition is on until 26th November 2023, but the reality is that the vast majority of Africans will not see it. Bringing the Biennale B(l)ack is the first in a planned series of events on the African continent to showcase and explore the work on display.