Australia Pulls out of Venice Biennale

John Hill
15. April 2020
Australian Pavilion in the Giardini (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)

Citing the coronavirus outbreak, the Australian Institute of Architects has announced it will not be participating in the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale, raising the question: Will other countries follow suit?

Originally set to open in May, in early March the decision was made to postpone the Biennale until August due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Northern Italy. In the month since, the virus has spread to at least 177 countries and killed more than 125,000 people. 

A statement released by the Institute and quoted at Australian Design Review says, "The rapidly changing and escalating situation regarding COVID-19 has made it impossible for us to plan for the exhibition, as the health and safety of our staff, members, partners and volunteers is our main priority." 

The Australian Pavilion was being curated by Jefa Greenaway and Tristan Wong. It would have addressed the wider Biennale theme, "How will we live together?," through "an immersive experience of country, language and diversity" by featuring a curated selection of projects that "represented Indigenous and non-Indigenous identity simultaneously across Australia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia."

The Institute thanked Greenaway and Wong in their statement, saying they "look forward to working with them to showcase this work in other ways when it is safe to do so." 

Money and other resources that would have gone to the exhibition will be used to fund initiatives to combat COVID-19.

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