Brazil was awarded the Golden Lion for Best National Participation at the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale for its showcase Terra (Earth). 

Curated by Gabriela de Matos and Paulo Tavares and commissioned by José Olympio da Veiga Pereira, president of the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo, Terra investigated conceptions of Brazil’s national image in relation to earth, in both a literal and cosmic sense, through lenses of race and gender. Ultimately, the curators sought to “think of Brazil as earth,” looking not only to the memories it contains, but to the future as well, to reconsider architecture’s position in “facing the most pressing contemporary urban, territorial and environmental issues.” The curators saw their exhibition as a workshop that included voices of those typically omitted from the architectural canon, while contributing to Biennale curator Lesley Lokko’s larger theme: The Laboratory of the Future.

two architecture curators speaking at a microphone
Gabriela de Matos and Paulo Tavares, curators of the Brazilian Pavilion. (Jacopo Salvi/Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia)

This year’s jury—Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli (president, Italy); Nora Akawi (Palestine); Thelma Golden (U.S.); Tau Tavengwa (Zimbabwe); and Izabela Wieczorek (Poland)—cited the motivation of the award “for a research exhibition and architectural intervention that center[s] the philosophies and imaginaries of indigenous and black population towards modes of reparation.” 

Upon receiving the award, de Matos and Tavares said: “We are very happy to have received this opportunity, inspired by Lesley Lokko, to present Brazil as a diasporic territory, with great ancestral contributions by the Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous communities. We believe that those are the technologies that must form part of the solutions to create a different and more egalitarian future for humanity and to restore and protect our natural world.”

The pavilion’s exhibitors included: Ana Flávia Magalhães Pinto, Ayrson Heráclito, Day Rodrigues with the collaboration of Vilma Patrícia Santana Silva, Fissura collective, Ilê Axé Iyá Nassô Oká (Casa Branca do Engenho Velho), Juliana Vicente, Mbya-Guarani Indigenous People, Tukano, Arawak and Maku Indigenous Peoples, Tecelãs do Alaká (Ilê Axé Opô Afonjá), Thierry Oussou, and Vídeo nas Aldeias.

In addition to the Golden Lion for Best National Participation, several other nations and individuals were recognized for their contributions to the architecture festival, which is on view until November 26.

National Participation Special Mention:

Great Britain: Dancing Before the Moon

Commissioner: Sevra Davis, Director of Architecture Design Fashion at the British Council

Curators: Jayden Ali, Joseph Henry, Meneesha Kellay and Sumitra Upham

Exhibitors: Yussef Agbo-Ola, Jayden Ali, Mac Collins, Shawanda Corbett, Madhav Kidao, Sandra Poulson

Venue: Giardini

Golden Lion for the best participant in the 18th Exhibition The Laboratory of the Future:

DAAR: Alessandro Petti and Sandi Hilal (Stockholm; Bethlehem)

Dangerous Liaisons section 

Venue: Corderie, Arsenale

Silver Lion for a promising young participant in the 18th Exhibition The Laboratory of the Future:

Olalekan Jeyifous (Brooklyn, New York; b. Ibadan, Nigeria, 1977)

Venue: Central Pavilion, Giardini 

film playing on a wall in an exhibition
DAAR exhibition was awarded Golden Lion for the best participant in the 18th exhibition The Laboratory of the Future. (Marco Zorzanello)

Special Mentions:

Twenty Nine Studio / Sammy Baloji (Brussels)
Sammy Baloji (Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1978)
Dangerous Liaisons section
Venue: Corderie, Arsenale

Wolff Architects (Cape Town, Republic of South Africa)
Ilze Wolff (Republic of South Africa, 1980)
Heinrich Wolff (Republic of South Africa, 1970)
Dangerous Liaisons section
Venue: Corderie, Arsenale

Thandi Loewenson (London)
Thandi Loewenson  (Zimbabwe, 1989)
Force Majeure section
Venue: Central Pavilion, Giardini

Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement:

Demas Nwoko (Nigeria)

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