Canada makes history at Venice Biennale with Indigenous-led UNCEDED

On May 24th, Canada proudly unveiled its official entry at the world’s most prestigious international architecture competition, the Venice Architecture Biennale. Commissioned by the Canada Council for the Arts, and presented by internationally renowned architect Douglas Cardinal and curators Gerald McMaster and David Fortin the exhibition, UNCEDED: Voices of the Land is the first ever Indigenous-led entry to be presented by Canada at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

The exhibition showcases the works of 18 Indigenous architects and designers from across Turtle Island (Canada and the United States) through an immersive audio-visual experience that tackles the difficult truths of colonialism while explaining and celebrating the strength of Indigenous resilience.

“The Canada Council for the Arts is deeply committed to supporting the renewal of the relationship between Indigenous artists, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences, and enhancing dialogues that promote a society that is more just, more inclusive and more innovative. UNCEDED is not only a brilliant and convincing celebration of Indigenous architecture and design, it is a promise of a way forward towards a shared future,” said Simon Brault, CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts.UNCEDED, Venice

“I firmly believe that the Indigenous worldview, which has always sought this balance between nature, culture and technology, is the path that humanity must rediscover and adopt for our future. The teachings of the Elders are not the teachings of the past. They are the teachings of the future,” said presenter Douglas Cardinal.

Curator Gerald McMaster explained that “UNCEDED exemplifies a new critical dialogue emerging among Indigenous artists and architects such as the value of traditional knowledge in the face of hyper-capitalism, solidarity between Indigenous peoples, and a search for strategies of decolonization.”UNCEDED, Venice

“I believe that UNCEDED is an essential step forward for understanding how design integrates within a sociopolitical context with meaningful outcomes for our communities. It is my hope that this exhibition will encourage future generations of Indigenous architects to stay grounded in the land and teaching of their Elders, and inspire them to design a world that better reflects their values, their community’s values, their grandparents’ values, their grandchildren’s values- all at the same time,” said curator David Fortin.

This release was originally published by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Photography by Cueyo Laux.