The British Council has been commissioning the British Pavilion in Venice since 1937, showcasing the best of the UK's artists, architects, designers and curators. In 2019, Madeleine Kessler and Manijeh Verghese were selected to curate the British Pavilion as part of the 17th International Exhibition of Architecture in Venice, which will now be held from 22 May to 21 November 2021.
Inspired by Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights, The Garden of Privatised Delights explores privatised public space across the UK and reimagines how to make public space more inclusive, proposing strategies for more equitable ownership, access and use. The themes explored within the pavilion have taken on an almost prophetic urgency as a result of the global pandemic, including the demise of the high street; how facial recognition technology is used; access to green space; who owns public space; and the decline in dedicated social spaces for young people.
The six rooms of the British Pavilion are transformed into a series of immersive spaces, commissioned from leading researchers and practitioners, presenting both a critique of how they are currently used while providing strategies to increase people's agency over their public spaces. The exhibition is a testing ground for the future of public space, helping to make the British Pavilion a platform for discussion about contemporary art and architecture addressing one of the most pressing issues in the UK today.
Client: British Council
Room Designers: Built Works, Public Works, Studio Polpo, The Decorators, Unscene Architecture, vPPR
Graphic Design: Kellenberger White
Consultants: ARUP, Buro Happold, Install Archive, JCLA
Team: Madeleine Kessler, Manijeh Verghese, Rosie Hervey, Ioana Man
Collage Image Credit: Madeleine Kessler & Manijeh Verghese
Photo Image Credit: Cristiano Corte © British Council