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FREE SPIRIT

Vo Trong Nghia Architects, Bamboo Stalactite, 2018, bamboo. Installation view, grounds of the Arsenale, Venice. Photo: Francesco Galli.

SECURITY WAS TIGHTER than usual on the opening day of the press preview for the Sixteenth Venice Architecture Biennale this past May, the reason being—or so it was whispered—a planned visit to the Giardini by the Israeli ambassador to Italy, there to attend the opening of his national pavilion that afternoon. The topic of the Israeli exhibition (under the curatorship of Tania Coen-Uzzielli, Deborah Pinto Fdeda, Ifat Finkelman, and Oren Sagiv) was the division of holy sites in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank and the awesome warping effects on urban space that result; especially striking was a sequence of films and animated drawings showing the steady immurement of Rachel’s tomb, a pilgrimage destination in Palestinian territory now surrounded by concrete slabs and watchtowers and entirely inaccessible to Palestinians. As the gendarmes stalked around the entrance to

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