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LA BIENNALE DI VENEZIA ANNOUNCES GOLDEN LION FOR LINA BO BARDI
The acknowledgment was recommended by Hashim Sarkis, curator of the Biennale Architettura 2021, and approved by the Board of Directors of La Biennale di Venezia.
Venice, March 8, 2021 – The Italian naturalized Brazilian architect will receive – in memoriam – the Special Golden Lion for her trajectory and set of work during the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. According to Hashim Sarkis, Lina Bo Bardi is the architect who best represents the theme of this year’s event: How will we live together? / How are we going to live together?. “Her career as a designer, editor, curator and activist reminds us of the architect’s role as a builder of collective visions. She also exemplifies the architect’s perseverance in difficult times, whether wars, political conflicts or immigration, and her ability to remain creative, generous and optimistic at all times”, explains the architect and curator about some of his motivations for the appointment.
Waldick Jatobá, Executive Director of Instituto Bardi — the institution that preserves the legacy of Pietro Maria Bardi and Lina Bo Bardi and aims to promote the study and research in the fields of architecture, design, urbanism and Brazilian popular art — believes that the recognition will strengthen the work that has been done since 1990, mainly for being the first Brazilian woman, the first woman with a built work, and also the third Brazilian to win a Golden Lion – Oscar Niemeyer and Paulo Mendes da Rocha have received their nominations in 1996 and 2016, respectively. “The appointment will be a defining moment not only for the national and international dissemination of a lifetime’s work, but also for Brazilian architecture in general”, defends Jatobá, reinforcing Sarkis’ thesis that the special Golden Lion for Lina’s work and trajectory is a recognition that has long been delayed of an illustrious career.
This edition of Biennale Architettura will be presented in April in digital format and broadcasted live on the Biennale website and social networks, with the public opening scheduled for May 22, 2021. According to the current schedule, Giuseppe D’Anna – the President of Instituto Bardi, and Sol Camacho – the Cultural Director, will be present to receive the Golden Lion during the inauguration ceremony for the event.
In Brazil, a celebration is scheduled for July this year, to be realized in accordance with government health protocols. “This is a very important moment, as we celebrate 70 years of the Casa de Vidro, the first project built by Lina, where the Institute now operates. We are planning a group exhibition on architecture in the Casa de Vidro garden, following the Biennale’s theme, as well as the launch of a new website that will make the Bardi couple’s collection more accessible to the world”, explains Sol Camacho. The occasion will coincide with the arrival of the Golden Lion in Brazil.
Giuseppe D’Anna has expressed gratitude for the Biennale’s generosity and has recognized as exemplary “the Venice Biennale’s vision of awarding today the multi-talented woman who continues to inspire generations of creative professionals around the world, and users of her buildings alike”. On the other hand, according to Sarkis, it is the powerful buildings by Lina that stand out for their design and the way they unite architecture, nature, life and community. “In her hands, architecture becomes a necessary social art that calls for life in common”, concludes the curator.
In recommending this award, Hashim Sarkis  expressed the following motivation:
“If there is one architect who embodies most fittingly the theme of the Biennale Architettura 2021, it is Lina Bo Bardi. Her career as a designer, editor, curator, and activist reminds us of the role of the architect as convener and importantly, as the builder of collective visions. Lina Bo Bardi also exemplifies the perseverance of the architect in difficult times whether wars, political strife, or immigration, and her ability to remain creative, generous, and optimistic throughout.
Above all, it is her powerful buildings that stand out in their design and in the way that they bring architecture, nature, living, and community together. In her hands, architecture becomes truly a convening social art.»
Just as one example, the design of the São Paulo Museum is exemplary in its ability to create a public space for the whole city, to create spaces inside that are flexible and to be open to experimental and more inclusive exhibitions such as Bo Bardi’s own exhibitions. The titles of these exhibitions alone, “The House as Soul,” “The Dignity of Architecture,” and “The Hand of the Brazilian People,” illustrate very strongly the power of architecture to bring people together.
The Special Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement is a long overdue recognition for an illustrious career straddling between Italy and Brazil, for re-enlivening the role of the architect as an enabler of society, and for a woman who simply represents the architect at her best.”
 Hashim Sarkis is a Lebanese educator and architect. Professor and Dean of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) School of Architecture and Planning. Founding Director of Hashim Sarkis Studios and Curator of Biennale Architettura 2021.
Read more on La Biennale’s website.