Cruising Pavilion Highlights Buildings ‘as Sexual Practice’ at Venice Architecture Biennale

The curators want to rectify the biennale’s ‘failure to question the hetero-normative production of space’; ‘poppers will be served’ at the opening

Courtesy: Cruising Pavilion

Courtesy: Cruising Pavilion

Courtesy: Cruising Pavilion

From the park and the bathhouse to locker rooms and saunas, the Cruising Pavilion, opening at the same time but organized independently of the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale, aims to foreground the sexual uses of architecture. The curators of the project seek to challenge this year’s biennale theme of ‘Freespace’. They say that the biennale has failed to question ‘the hetero-normative production of space itself.’

Curators Pierre-Alexandre Mateos, Rasmus Myrup, Octave Perrault and Charles Teyssou want to show us how architecture ‘is a sexual practice’, one in which cruising can intervene in the intentions and control of spaces, and become ‘one of the most crucial acts of dissidence.’ They will also address the future of cruising in the age of Grindr and the commodification of LGBT+ cultures.

The pavilion will host contributions from artists and architects including Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Monica Bonvicini, Prem Sahib, Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings, and Trevor Yeung. It will run from 25 May to 1 July at Venice art space Spazio Punch. ‘Drinks and poppers will be served’ at the opening reception on 24 May.

‘Like cruising, our pavilion will be pretty punk and DIY’, the curators told frieze. The curators want to use the project to show how the architecture of cruising might mirror the architecture of exhibitions, sharing a ‘circulatory quality made to maximise visual interactions’. They count among their inspirations the 1994 exhibition ‘Queer Space’ at New York’s Storefront for Art and Architecture and the ‘original’ Cruising Pavilion by Elmgreen and Dragset, made in 1998 – a white wooden cube complete with glory holes, placed by the artist duo in Denmark’s Marselisborg Forest.

Artist duo Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings told frieze that they would be showing their film Gaby (2018), which explores the relationship between gay culture and the police, as part of the Cruising Pavilion. You can read our interview with Hastings and Quinlan about their 2016 project UK Gaybar Directory, a filmed archive of gay bars across the country, responding to the gentrification of the gay scene.

This year’s Venice Architecture Biennale is curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara. Their decision to title it ‘Freespace’ seeks to describe ‘a generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity at the core of architecture’s agenda’, and ‘emphasise nature’s free gifts of light – sunlight and moonlight, air, gravity, materials – natural and man-made resources.’ It runs from 26 May to 25 November 2018.

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