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Venice Biennials

Pavilion of Switzerland at the Biennale Architettura 2021 in Venice

Installation view of “oræ – Experiences on the Border” at the Swiss Pavilion Photo: KEYSTONE/Gaëtan Bally © Mounir Ayoub, Vanessa Lacaille, Fabrice Aragno and Pierre Szczepsk

Biennali di Venezia

The Venice Biennale alternates annually between an Art Biennale and an Architecture Biennale. The exhibitions are open to the public between May and November.

To the dossier

The exhibition Oræ – Experiences on the Border in the Swiss Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia from 22 May to 21 November 2021 ties the physical reality of the Swiss border to its political and social issues, thus drawing up a new perception for these inhabited territories. The outbreak of the pandemic in the middle of the work process gave the project additional relevance.

With the project Oræ – Experiences on the Border (oræ, Latin for «borders»), the Geneva-based team investigates the subject of borders taking into account both the political and spatial dimension of the territory and its sensitive and social perception. «Studying the Swiss border in these times means envisaging it not only as a line on a map, but also as a space to be experienced; not only as a limit, but as a beginning», the authors of the project say.

The project-team engaged in participative processes and proposed different political and poetic experiences. They began first onsite with a roving study at the end of 2019, where the team travelled with a truck fitted out as a studio to meet inhabitants of the border between Switzerland and its neighbouring countries. At each stage, participants were invited to construct an imaginary or real place of their choice at a border, while video recorded the process.

The material collected on site will be presented in the Swiss Pavilion in Venice. Oræ – Experiences on the Border is a project about the borders and its inhabitants. It reveals political and poetic dimensions of that space. «Little by little, relations replace measures and references change. Certainties blur and furtive memories creep in. Another map appears. Feelings and places, often ordinary, begin to resonate together, a new territory becomes possible», the authors of the project state.


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Registrazione della conferenza stampa in occasione dell’apertura del padiglione svizzero il 20.5.2021


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Making of film

About the team

Fabrice Aragno, filmmaker
Born in Neuchâtel in 1970
Lives and works in Lausanne, Switzerland

Mounir Ayoub, architect (le laboratoire d’architecture)
Born in Tunis in 1980
Lives and works in Geneva, Switzerland

Vanessa Lacaille, architect and landscape architect (le laboratoire d’architecture)
Born in Paris in 1980
Lives and works in Geneva, Switzerland

Pierre Szczepski, artist sculptor
Born in Caen in 1991
Lives and works in Geneva, Switzerland

Collaborators – Noémie Allenbach, architect; Benoît Beurret, mediator; Jürg Bührer, architect and Annabelle Voisin, video artist

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