the Venice Architecture Biennale

Gabinete de Arquitectura, Breaking the Siege, 2016, brick, mortar. Installation view, Central Pavilion, Venice. Photo: Francesco Galli.

CONTEMPORARY ART at its worst is rarely so naive as contemporary architecture at its best. Because it operates so closely to the machinery of power, the design profession has been known to occasionally confuse design with power itself—to believe that architecture is politics—an idea that dates back at least to 1923, when Le Corbusier famously posited a choice between “architecture ou révolution,” as if they were commensurate political pursuits. Alack, they aren’t.

This tendency has reached a new pitch with the latest Venice Biennale of Architecture. Crusading curator (and winner of this year’s Pritzker Architecture Prize) Alejandro Aravena has marshaled projects from eighty-eight participants plus sixty-five national pavilions in an effort to prove once and for all that architecture is—and ought to be—a field for political action. In the process he appears to

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