Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore

Vatican to participate in Venice Biennale and its national pavilion will be as follows

The exhibition, titled ‘Social Friendship: meeting in the garden’, will run from the 20th May to the 26th November 2023 at the Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore.

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(ZENIT News / Roma, 04.20.2023).- The new Dicastery for Culture and Education will take part in the 18th International  Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, dedicating the National Pavilion of the Holy  See to the theme of encounter.

The exhibition, titled ‘Social Friendship: meeting in the garden’, will run from the 20th May to the 26th November 2023 at the Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore. It will be presented in  the exposition spaces and the garden of the Benedictine monastery and it will invite visitors  ‘to take care of the planet as we care for ourselves and celebrate the culture of encounter’.

The Curator, the Architect Roberto Cremascoli, has framed these words to synthesise the  teachings of Pope Francis in his encyclicals Laudato si’ (2015) and Fratelli tuttti (2020) which  in turn serve as a guide to the exhibition’s itinerary.

The Commissioner, Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça, and the Curator have invited the  Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza (Pritzker Prize 1992) – a figure of undoubted international  prestige in the world of art and architecture – to display his work at the Pavilion of the Holy  See together with the Italian Collective Studio Albori (Emanuele Almagioni, Giacomo Borella,  Francesca Riva). The latter group, by virtue of its development of a multidisciplinary practice,  achieves the reality of the project by integrating architectural activities with participative and  ecological processes.

The encounter of the encyclicals of the Holy Father, the invited architects and the different  scientific contributions, gives birth to installations which respond to the theme ‘The Laboratory  of the Future’ proposed by the General Curator of the 18th International Architecture  Exhibition, Lesley Lokko.

The exhibition route 

The first part of the route unrolls within the exhibition halls of the Benedictine monastery  of San Giorgio Maggiore, managed by the Benedicti Claustra Onlus, which is actively  collaborating in the project. The space is accessed from the Darsena Grande dell’Isola –  opposite the basin of San Marco – on the historic building’s ground floor which is known as  the ‘Manica Lunga’ (Long Sleeve).

Visitors will be welcomed by a video narration by Mattia Borgioli, outlining the process  that led to the creation of all the installations, from the conception of the first prototypes to  their arrival on the Island. This introduction opens the display area of the gallery, which by  means of graphics, original sketches and photographs by Marco Cremascoli, establishes  the narrative.

Álvaro Siza’s installation “O Encontro” welcomes visitors and leads them to the outdoor  spaces as they dialogue with the ‘figures’ designed by the maestro; large presences whose geometries and dynamics of movement physically allude to the courageous social vision of  Pope Francis.

Their suggestive interaction generates an incessant movement, punctuated by pauses and  surprises, toward the last monolith, which reaches the garden, leading us to the rediscovered  vegetable plot of the monastery and the specially created spaces of welcome.

The novel configuration of the garden, designed by Studio Albori, proposes a walk which is  partly shaded, thanks to wooden and bamboo pergolas, and partly open-air, amidst the new  plantings.

All the wood used here is enjoying a ‘second life’, like the second chance that should be  offered to all places, cultures and living beings.

Intended as a space which will be available to all, the new lay-out allows people to walk  among the vegetable gardens, chicken coop, seed storage and resting areas, in a way that  allows for reconnection and contemplation. This material and spiritual setting brings us  closer to the daily life of a Benedictine monastery and its Rule, opening the possibility for a  renewed dialogue with those emblematic spaces of the architectural tradition.

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