Venice Runner 2038

Germany selects a team for the Venice Architecture Biennale, but what about the U.S. Pavilion?

Amanda Williams + Andres L. Hernandez in collaboration with Shani Crowe's Thrival Geographies (In My Mind I See a Line) installed at the Venice Architecture Biennale's U.S. Pavilion in 2018. (Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia)

The German Federal Ministry of Interior, Building and Community has announced the curatorial team for the German Pavilion for the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2020, which will take place May 23 through November 29. Following the recommendation of a jury chaired by Peter Cachola Schmal, director of the German Museum of Architecture, the ministry has selected team “2038” to move forward with their concept of how we’ll live in the next decade. 

The concept is described as a “review from the future,” in which society looks back from the year 2038, “because everything ended up okay,” according to the curators. In this speculative view of the future, architects helped build success by answering “the great questions of our time” and standing up for the “common good” by focusing on systemic solutions. The concept is expected to be presented in detail in early 2020. 

The team consists of curators Arno Brandlhuber, Olaf Grawert, Nikolaus Hirsch, and Christopher Roth, and was chosen due to the project’s “representation of future-oriented solutions for relevant social, ecological and economic problems,” according to Anne Katrin Bohle, Secretary of State at the Federal Ministry of Interior. 

Rendering of stone building with the number 2038 on top at the Venice Architecture Biennale

The 2020 German Pavilion will ask visitors to look back on our time from the year 2038. (Courtesy the German Federal Ministry of Interior, Building and Community)

But with the announcement of the German Pavilion, it leaves us on this side of the world wondering, when will the United States reveal their selection? A source familiar with the bureau at the U.S. Department of State that manages the biennale selection alongside the National Endowment for the Arts told AN that the lack of information on such matters could possibly be related to the backlog in issuing grants as a result of the last government shutdown. 

While the United States government has gradually increased the amount of financial support given to presenters up to $325,000 (including $125,000 to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice), it is stated in U.S. Dept. of State application documents that “Past experiences have shown that the overall cost of mounting an exhibition of this scale is considerably higher than actual U.S. Government funding that can be provided through this grant.” 

Organizers could expect the need to raise up to another $700,000 to complete a successful bid. With the Venice Architecture Biennale only seven months away, given the amount of time and effort such fundraising requires, the indecision on announcing the selection is hardly fair to the organizers, and mounting a pavilion on such short notice could prove to be an impossible task. 

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