The Swiss Pavilion at Venice Architecture Biennale 2021

At Venice Architecture Biennale 2021, the Swiss Pavilion presents the exhibition oræ – Experiences on the Border”


At the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2021, the Swiss Pavilion hosts the exhibition oræ – Experiences on the Border. Commissioned by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, the exhibition is curated by a team of architects and artists based in Geneva.

Mounir Ayoub and Vanessa Lacaille from Geneva-based Laboratoire d’architecture, filmmaker Fabrice Aragno and artist sculptor Pierre Szczepski tie the physical reality of the Swiss border to its political and social issues, trying to draw up a new cultural perception of these inhabited territories.

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“Being a participatory process, Oræ – Experiences on the Border draws our attention to a territory and its complex social and cultural structure, and offers a voice to people who are otherwise less heard. This way, the project puts the periphery at the centre and challenges common ways of thinking about borders, limits and permeability,” says Madeleine Schuppli, Head of the Visual Arts division at Pro Helvetia.

Through videos and installations, the exhibition presents the material collected by the curators during the various stages of their tour. Before and during the pandemic, the curators met the inhabitants of the Swiss border to invite them to discuss the topic and to propose an imaginary or real border location of their choice.


“Studying the Swiss border in these times means envisaging it not only as a line on a map, but also as a space to be experienced; not only as a limit, but as a beginning. Little by little, relations replace measures and references change. Certainties blur and furtive memories creep in. Another map appears. Feelings and places, often ordinary, begin to resonate together, a new territory becomes possible,” the authors of the project state. [Text: Arianna Callocchia; Photo: KEYSTONE/Gaëtan Bally, © Mounir Ayoub, Vanessa Lacaille, Fabrice Aragno and Pierre Szczepski]

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