Christine Murray reports from the second architecture and art biennial of the Canary Islands
The second biennial of the Canary Islands opened on 5 March in Las Palmas and Tenerife. Focussed around the theme of ‘Silencio’, or silence, and curated by director (and architect) Juan Manuel Palerm, the art and architecture biennial is intended as a meditation and study of the landscape of these seven islands and their unique geographical, topographical and sociological make-up.
Since the 1970s, the Canary Islands’ economic dependency on tourism has transformed the landscape from something once used for production (growing bananas, mostly), into something consumed in and of itself, through tourism.
Research into the history of the Canary Islands’ landscape and coastal development, as well as projects inspired by the research, presented by the international selection of artists and architects, are intended to paint a complete picture of the past, present and future of tourism and the Canary Islands.
Unfortunately, due to a last-minute change in the biennial curatorial team, ousting the original directors and hiring Palerm only months ago, many of the architecture and art projects on show were selected within the past three or four months. Architects Feld72 from Austria admitted they were called to participate in the biennial just six weeks ago, and so are exhibiting the same work that appeared at the Venice Biennale last September.
The research exhibits, however - fascinating documentary work which explores the history of the island’s development - were put together over the past two years by the biennial team, and are absolutely worth the trip to see. The delicate balance between tourist development and the preservation of landscape is a conflict currently taking place within the Canary Islands government, which is planning a law to protect 43 per cent of the islands from any new tourist development.