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Venice Biennale criticised for all-male opening panel

Meetings on Architecture
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The organisers of this year’s Venice Biennale have been criticised for the choice of an all-male panel for the opening session of the event

Biennale curator Alejandro Aravena was joined on the stage by architects Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas, Durban-based architect Andrew Makin and director of UN-Habitat Joan Clos, for the first ‘Meeting on Architecture’. 

Held to mark the opening of the six-month long architecture festival, the panel discussion, which took place on Saturday (28 May) focused on infrastructure across the world. 

But members of the audience and those following the Biennale from further afield took to social media to criticise Aravena’s choice of all-male speakers. 

Wouter Vanstiphout of Crimson Architectural Historians, who worked on the 2014 British Pavilion, commented: ’Unbelievable indeed. The most politically ambitious Biennale ever has an all-male panel; the usual bunch of mansplainers. 

‘With allowing this to happen the director symbolically excludes gender issues and female rights from the urban ‘front’ that he is reporting from. Oh and spare us the excuses, apologies, rationalisations: those have all been heard before. Please just change it, no words but deeds, as the suffragettes said, on what was a real front.’ 

The writers of women in architecture blog Die Architektin said: ‘Simply by starting by an all-male panel, Aravana just showed that again, architecture is a sexist profession. Reporting from which front? Not the front where the real battles happen…’ 

The organisers of the Venice Biennale have been contacted for comment. 

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