With Italy currently in a lockdown to battle a “third wave” of cases and travel in Europe still restricted, several national pavilions at the world’s most prestigious architecture biennale have cancelled their physical opening events.
Instead, organisers of pavilions including the Swiss, Singaporean and Dutch presences said they intend to host “silent openings” or virtual events.
Pro Helvetia, which organises the Swiss Pavilion, said it was planning a silent opening “in light of the still uncertain Covid-19 situation”.
It added that it “will not host a public vernissage during the preview days on 20th and 21st May”.
The Singapore Pavilion said it is “planning an online vernissage for invited guests and media ahead of the official public opening of the Biennale on 22 May 2021”.
“Guests will not be invited to attend the opening in person”
Organisers of the biennale are planning on opening the event to the public on schedule on 22 May.
It usually consists of a series of installations hosted at the Arsenale della Biennale alongside shows at permanent national pavilions within the Giardini della Biennale and further installations across the city.
While installations inside many pavilions are complete, organisers don’t expect a large number of visitors to the event that officially starts on 22 May.
The usual preview days, or vernissage, on the two days preceding the public opening are expected to be quiet with several pavilions reorganising physical gatherings until later in the year.
“An online, virtual opening event will take place on May 20,” the organisers of the Dutch Pavilion told Dezeen. “Guests will not be invited to attend the opening in person but we hope that there will be another opportunity to host guests in the autumn.”
“If the situation allows, Pro Helvetia will instead organise a physical event on site in late summer or early autumn and hope to welcome you then in Venice,” added the organisers of the Swiss pavilion.
“Plans are still being explored”
Organisers of other pavilions reported that they were still confirming plans in line with government advice and the biennale organisers’ arrangements.
“The British Council is closely following UK and Italian government guidelines regarding travel to and from Venice,” said a representative of the British Council, which organises the British Pavilion.
“Though plans are still being explored around what form a physical opening event at the British Pavilion might take, we are prioritising health and safety by focusing on remote celebrations.”
“While the pavilion is indeed expected to open on 22 May, as the Biennale indicated today it’s confirming its opening dates,” said the organisers of the Lebanese Pavilion. “We don’t have any precisions on how exactly the opening will take place.”
Originally planned to take place in 2020, the Venice Architecture Biennale was postponed until 2021 due to coronavirus with the Art Biennale pushed back 2021 to 2022.
Venice is currently classified as an orange zone by the Italian government meaning that at present all museums, live shows, trade fairs and exhibitions as well as bars and restaurants are closed, but shops are open.
The architecture biennale, which usually attracts around 250,000 visitors, is scheduled to run from 22 May until 21 November.
This year’s theme is How do we live together? Curated by Lebanese architect Hashim Sarkis, the biennale will aim to explore ways in which people can co-exist while wealth and political ideologies diverge.
Earlier this week the organisers of Milan’s fuorisalone vowed that they would hold events in September despite doubts over Salone del Mobile – the world’s most important furniture fair – taking place.
The pandemic has impacted events taking place across Europe in 2021 including the furniture and interiors fair IMM Cologne and Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair, which were due to take place in January and February respectively and were both cancelled.
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