Venice architecture Biennale opens a year later on May 22

MILAN — A year after being postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Venice Biennale for architecture will open on May 22 for a six-month run under strict virus protocols, officials said Monday.

The exhibition will bring together 63 countries for the main show under the theme “How will we live together?”

The title was chosen before the pandemic forced the postponement of the event initially slated for 2020. But curator Hashim Sarkis said “the pandemic has made the question … all the more relevant, even if somehow ironic, given the isolation that the pandemic has imposed.”

The original concept was inspired by pressing issues facing the world, he said, citing climate change, massive population displacement, political polarization, and growing racial, social, ethnic and economic inequalities. All of these “have led us to this pandemic,’’ Sarkis told a virtual presentation.

Sarkis, dean of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture and Planning, said he used the extra year to expand the show to seven sections “to deepen the discussion about architecture and its vital role in today’s society.” That includes the broadcast of the installation process usually hidden from public view, a collaboration with the dance Biennale and satellite shows that will spin off from the Biennale after it closes on Nov. 21.

Protocols for visitors weren’t specified, but Biennale president Roberto Cicutto said they would draw on the experience from the film and dance sections held last year.

The Venice Film Festival, the first major in-person cinema showcase during the pandemic last September, required participants to wear face masks during screenings and anyone arriving from outside Europe to take a COVID-19 test.

Travel between regions remains generally banned in Italy and rules for international tourist arrivals still haven’t been established, amid expectations that tourism will revive for the summer season.

The Biennale for architecture is held every other year, in rotation with the contemporary art fair, which is slated for 2022.