The Brazil Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia 2023

Biennale di Venezia

Under the title Terra [Earth], the representation of the Brazil Pavilion at the Biennale Architettura 2023 proposes to rethink the past in order to design possible futures, bringing to the fore actors forgotten by the architectural canons, in dialogue with the curatorship of the edition, Laboratory of the Future.

The exhibition is jointly curated by the architects Gabriela de Matos and Paulo Tavares. From a reflection on the Brazil of yesterday, of today and of the future, the exhibition places land at the centre of the debate both as a poetic and as a concrete element in the exhibition space. To this end, the entire pavilion will be filled with earth, putting the public in direct contact with the tradition of Indigenous territories, Quilombola dwellings, and candomblé ceremonies.

The first gallery of the modernist pavilion has been named “De-colonizing the canon” by the curators, questioning the imaginary surrounding the version that Brasília, the capital of Brazil, was built in the middle of nowhere, given that its Indigenous and Quilombola inhabitants had been removed from the region in the colonial period, and were finally pushed to the fringes with the imposition of the modernist city.

In a variety of formats, the works that fill the gallery range from the projection of an audiovisual work by the filmmaker Juliana Vicente, created in conjunction with the curatorship and commissioned for the occasion, to a selection of archive photographs, compiled by the historian Ana Flávia Magalhães Pinto, to the ethno-historical map of Brazil by Curt Nimuendajú and the “Brasília Quilombola map”, the latter also commissioned for the occasion.

The second gallery, named “Places of Origin, Archaeologies of the Future”, welcomes us with the screening of the video by Ayrson Heráclito – The Shaking of the Casa da Torre and The Shaking of the Maison des Esclaves in Gorée, from 2015 – and turns to memories and the archaeology of ancestrality.

Occupied by socio-spatial projects and practices of Indigenous and Afro-Brazilian knowledge about land and territory, the curatorship brings forth five essential memorial heritages of reference: The Casa da Tia Ciata, in the urban context of Pequena África in Rio de Janeiro; the Tava, as the Guarani call the ruins of the Jesuit missions in Rio Grande do Sul; the ethnogeographic complex of terreiros in Salvador; the Indigenous Agroforestry Systems of the Rio Negro in the Amazon; and the Iauaretê waterfall of the Tukano, Arawak and Maku.

The exhibition demonstrates what several scientific studies prove: that Indigenous and Quilombola lands are the best preserved territories in Brazil, and in that way point towards a post-climate change future where “de-colonization” and “decarbonization” walk hand in hand.

Their practices, technologies and customs linked to land management and production, like other ways of doing and understanding architecture, are located in the earth, are equally universal and carry within themselves the ancestral knowledge to re-signify the present and design other futures, for both human and nonhuman communities alike, towards another planetary future.

For José Olympio da Veiga Pereira, president of the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo, “the International Architecture Exhibition of the Biennale di Venezia is a privileged space for the discussion of the most urgent issues in architecture and urbanism, a field that ultimately reflects on our dynamics of life through the use and sharing of common spaces as a society.

At a time when humanity is facing great challenges, the exhibition proposed by architects Gabriela de Matos and Paulo Tavares is a way of giving visibility to research and practices that can contribute to the collective shaping of our future.” Source by La Biennale di Venezia and photo Courtesy of Sutton.