Canadian contributions to the 2008 Venice Biennale 11th International Architecture Exhibition

Three significant contributions will represent Canada at the 2008 Venice Biennale 11th International Architecture Exhibition, arguably the world’s most prestigious architectural event. This year’s Biennale, entitled Out There: Architecture Beyond Building, takes place from September 14 to November 23, 2008 in Venice, Italy.

41 to 66: Architecture in Canada Region, Culture, Tectonics, an exhibition co-curated by architectural professors John McMinn (University of Waterloo) and Marco Polo (Ryerson University) and organized by Cambridge Galleries, presents a selection of contemporary buildings organized within six distinct cultural and geographic regions of Canada: the Arctic, West Coast, Mountain, Prairie, Continental and Atlantic. The exhibition features a variety of leading contemporary Canadian architects whose work draws on iconic Canadian building types like the igloo, tepee and sod house as a means to address regional and cultural identity, landscape, climate and sustainability issues. Contributing architects include Busby Perkins + Will, Patkau Architects, Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects and MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects.

At the 2008 Biennale, this exhibit will help visitors appreciate Canadian responses to architectural identity and sustainability through literature, visual, video, audio, and web-based material that will be accessible using hand-held devices. There will also be floor-to-ceiling images projected within the pavilion, which is organized into five bays and a courtyard space. It is a celebration of Canada in its many varied dimensions through its diverse regions, material traditions and cultural influences.

Curators John McMinn and Marco Polo bring many years of curatorial experience in art, architecture and design. Steve Mykolyn of TAXI Canada, will be working with the team on exhibition communications, design and promotion, bringing a wealth of creative experience in interactive communication. The Canada Council for the Arts is a primary funder for Canada’s architectural representation in Venice. Cambridge Galleries also provides financial support and will engage in fundraising activities to realize this project.

41 to 66 was officially launched at the Design at Riverside Gallery in Cambridge, Ontario in November, 2005. The exhibition has an extensive tour schedule: the Works Festival (Edmonton) and IIDEX (Toronto) in 2006, Mackenzie Art Gallery (Regina) and Dalhousie University in 2007, Museum London and Surrey Art Gallery in 2008 and the Yukon Arts Centre in 2009.

A second contribution to the 2008 Venice Biennale 11th International Architecture Exhibition involves An Te Liu, a member of the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto, who has been commissioned to create an installation for a group exhibition at the Corderie of the Arsenale in Venice. The exhibition is comprised of the work of 18 international architects and designers including Zaha Hadid, Greg Lynn, UN Studio, Droog, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Asymptote, and MVRDV. An Te Liu is currently on leave in Berlin, where he is the 2007-208 recipient of the Canada Council for the Arts International Residency for Visual Artist at the Knstlerhaus Bethanian. In June 2008, he will present a solo exhibition, Style and Epoch at the Michael Klein Gallery in Toronto. Liu’s work is also on view in the group exhibitions Figuration in Contemporary Design at the Art Institute of Chicago and 136 and Counting at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. SFMOMA and the Art Institute have both recently acquired works by Liu for inclusion in their permanent collections.

And the third Canadian contribution to the 2008 Architecture Biennale is also a commission to the group exhibition at the Corderie dell’Arsenale – an interactive multimedia environment involving Montreal-based new media designer Chris Salter, a member of the Faculty of Fine Arts at Concordia University, in collaboration with San Francisco-based designer Erik Adigard of M-A-D. Betsky selected the project due to Salter and Adigard’s collaborative work on the international scene in the areas of graphic design, new media and interactive environments – a key thematic strategy in Betsky’s examining of the theme of architecture beyond building.

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