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Biennale di Venezia Presents Kazuyo Sejima as Director of Architecture
Kazuyo Sejima is a leading exponent of contemporary architecture. EFE/Andrea Merola.

VENICE.- The Board of Directors of the Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta, today presented Kazuyo Sejima as Director of the Architecture Sector, with specific responsibility for curating the 12th International Architecture Exhibition to be held in Venice between 29th August and 21st November 2010 (vernissage on 26th, 27th and 28th August). Kazuyo Sejima is the first woman to direct the Architecture Sector of the Biennale.

Born in Japan, in the prefecture of Ibaraki in 1956, Kazuyo Sejima is a leading exponent of contemporary architecture. In 1981, she took a degree in architecture at the Japan Women's University and began working in the studio of Toyo Ito. In 1987, she opened her own studio in Tokyo. In 1995, together with Ryue Nishizawa, she founded SANAA, the Tokyo studio that has designed some of the most innovative works of architecture built recently around the world, from the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York to the Serpentine Pavilion in London and from the Christian Dior Building in Omotesando (Tokyo) to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, which won the Golden Lion in 2004 for the most significant work of the 9th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale. In 2000, she was also the curator for the Japanese Pavilion, called City of Girls, at the 7th International Architecture Exhibition of the Biennale. Kazuyo Sejima has taught at Princeton University and at the Polytechnique de Lausanne. She is currently a lecturer at Keio University.

A constant focus on research characterises all of her work, heir to the thousand-year tradition that has inspired the minimalist geometry of contemporary Japanese architecture. Toyo Ito describes her as “an architect who uses the maximum simplicity to link the material and the abstract”.

With regard to her concept for the Biennale, Kazuyo Sejima has declared:
"The Biennale must be everything and anything, fundamentally inclusive, in dialogue with both contributors and visitors. Buildings, the atmosphere that they create and the way in which they are conceived, can be the central starting point of the coming Biennale. Very broadly, the process by which we design can be brought to bear on contemporary and future architectural discussion. I.e. we can select and arrange works such that they are understood as they are rather than as representations. This can be manifested with an architecture grounded in its use by people.

We are now well into the 21st Century. We can take this opportunity to step back and assess the zeitgeist of now through the process of the Biennale. This can clarify contemporary essentials of architecture and the importance of new relationships as we step into the future. One potent point of departure could be the boundaries and adaptation of space. This might include the removal of boundaries, as well as their clarification. Any part of architecture’s inherent multiplicity of adjacencies can become a topic. It might be argued that contemporary architecture is a rethinking and perhaps softening of those borders.

inside and outside
individual and public
program and form (form and function)
physical and virtual
contemporary and classical
past and future
harmony and discord
structure partition
art and architecture
nature and man

Perhaps the oxymoron can represent a productive new paradigm; can these binaries (intersections of public/private, global/local, artificial/natural, monumental/mundane, complex/simple, symbolic/pragmatic, fake/authentic, active/passive, thickness/thinness) lead to a duality capable of blurring these boundaries? How can the unexpected interdependency of extraordinary spaces create a communal/symbiotic dialogue between adjacencies? Equally, there is another thread of interest; people in architecture, human encounters in both public and private scenarios, both as creators and users. This is an issue of individual life in interplay with the community. It may be as simple as ‘people meet in architecture.’ In its totality the Biennale can both a new and active forum for contemporary ideas as well as a close reading of buildings themselves."

For his part, the President of the Venice Biennale, Paolo Baratta, has declared: “The choice has fallen on one of the most highly-qualified and established representatives of the new masters of architecture of the new millennium. A generation that has established itself in the first decade of this century, and which has frequently developed through experiences gained in the company of the great historical masters dominating the world stage. Their presence has not, however, obscured, but rather fed a generation of new masters. This is an important phenomenon, worth recognising as being the most significant new feature in the modern era of architecture. Their extraordinary quality reveals a sense of openness and optimism with regard to the evolution of architecture, which shows itself not to be petrified by the ‘archistars’, but on the contrary alive and full of vitality. Among these new masters, the Biennale had already noted Kazuyo Sejima, who won the Golden Lion in 2004 for the most significant work of the 9th Architecture Exhibition, Metamorph. After a series of Biennali entrusted to eminent critics or historians, the decision was taken to give this sector once more to an architect to bring the major theme of the quality of architecture back to the forefront through a person who has made quality into a personal vocation”.

Biennale di Venezia | Paolo Baratta | Kazuyo Sejima |

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