‘Island’, presented by the British Council, is the British Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition – the Venice Biennale, which runs from 26 May to 25 November 2018. The curatorial team comprises Caruso St John Architects working in collaboration with artist Marcus Taylor.
The title of the British Pavilion, ‘Island’, “refers to many things”, say curators Adam Caruso, Peter St John and Marcus Taylor, “but firstly to Shakespeare’s ‘Tempest’, where the protagonists are shipwrecked in a storm, and saved from drowning by being washed up on the beach of an unknown island, which turns out to be a paradise of sorts. So it is about being saved and lost at the same time”. Other associations are with Venice, and its precarious relationship to the sea, “and then of course, being the British Pavilion, it makes you think of Brexit and the current renegotiation, with all its questions and uncertainties.”
The rooms of the pavilion are left empty, while scaffolding supports a platform that makes a new public space on its roof – the top of which protrudes like an island. In an alternative approach to the presentation of architectural exhibits, this is “a construction that can be experienced like a building”, say the curators. “Its public nature is very important, that you are free to wander about, to meet people and participate or not.”
The pavilion will host a range of meetings and performances throughout the biennale, including one of Shakespeare’s ‘Tempest on the rooftop platform, and a reading by poet Kate Tempest.