• Promotional image for Hugon Kowalski and Marcin Szczelina’s Let’s talk about garbage, 2016. From the 15th International Architecture Biennale: “Reporting from the Front.”

    15th International Architecture Biennale: “Reporting from the Front”

    Various Venues
    May 28–November 27

    Curated by Alejandro Aravena

    At a time when Europe’s migrant crisis has provoked an apparently contagious obsession with walls and fences—even as it highlights a dire need for the most basic requirement of physical shelter—and when ISIS’s campaigns of destruction have terrifyingly underscored the symbolic potency of buildings and monuments, there can be little doubt that architecture is deeply political. But does this status place political influence in the hands of architects themselves? This year’s biennial answers in the affirmative, gathering eighty-eight participants who deploy architecture as an “instrument of social and political life.” Curator Aravena seems well poised to lead this effort, having won this year’s Pritzker Prize on the merit of his participatory housing projects. Yet the instrumentalization of architecture as political expression may result in the flattening-out of its unique ability to amalgamate social conditions with spatial and material structures—a capacity that constitutes its true potential for action and resistance.