2016 Venice Biennale Proposal

Our proposal, anticipated to be unsuccessful, gave the curators for the US Pavilion an opportunity to open discussions, widen the discourse and set issues of labor, social justice and economics in focus for a city that desperately needs critical design and awareness.

Instead, The Architectural Imagination, curated by Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce De Leon, consists of 12 speculative projects for specific sites in Detroit, Michigan, offering no solutions to a city with, what the world considers are real and imminent, problems.  The exhibition blatantly disregards the cultural, social, racial and economic concerns of Detroit in favor of the aesthetitization and capital expolitment of the city as it take a global stage in Venice.  Their interests in speculative forms, and sparking the creative imagination come at the expense of critically engaging the urban conditions at deeper levels and expanding definitions of architecture for the benefit of the people of Detroit and cities like it.

Detroit isn’t simply a city in need, which we must teach, fix or impose ourselves upon, just because it is post-industrial and economically unstable; there is much to learn from Detroit as well.  As we have stated in our submission documents, we feel that “(w)hile many subscribe to the simplistic ideology that Detroit is a disinvested city in need, we understand the latent values hidden within the urban instability that others do not. Since Fordism emerged as the culmination of Taylorism that made America the economic engine post WW1, Detroit has remained a foundational site of labour organization/procurement. In this way, Detroit can set a precedent for other cities that exemplifies the power of architecture to challenge fundamental relationships between humans and resources and to promote the agency of the user to work through new terms. The Architecture Lobby is uniquely positioned to translate these performative and occupational provocations into spatial tools for rethinking labor and the commons in contemporary urban forms.”

The Architectural Imagination, curated by Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce De Leon, consists of 12 speculative projects for specific sites in Detroit, Michigan.  The Architectural Imagination will present speculative architectural projects commissioned for specific sites in Detroit but with far-reaching application for cities around the world. As advocates of the power of architecture to construct culture and catalyze cities, curators Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce de Leon will commission twelve visionary US architectural practices to produce new work that demonstrates the creativity and resourcefulness of architecture to address the social and environmental issues of the 21st century.

UPDATE 8/19/15:

From: Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce de Leon <denizmc@umich.edu>

“Thank you for submitting an Expression of Interest for The Architectural Imagination, the exhibition for the U.S. Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale.

It was an incredibly competitive pool of applicants with 250 submissions from all over the country.  We are sorry to inform you that you were not selected, but please know that it was a difficult decision.  We will have more news about the exhibition coming out soon.

All the best,

Cynthia Davidson and Monica Ponce de Leon

UPDATE 8/25/15

The list of selected participants for the U.S. Pavilion was just announced.  No surprise here.  See image below to read the announcement.

UPDATE 3/01/16:

Visit our friends at DETROIT RESISTS to learn about their protests of The Architectural Imagination and their responses for spotlighting real concerns for the city of Detroit.