Therme Art Program

Therme Group and Therme Art Partner with the British Council to Present Programming at La Biennale 2023

Therme Group and Therme Art are proud to announce their support of the British Council’s 2023 British Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, marking their fifth year in consecutive partnership at both Venice Art and Architecture Biennials.

Dancing Before the Moon
British Pavilion, La Biennale di Venezia
20 May – 26 November 2023 (Pre-Opening 18-20th May)

This year – in response to the broader theme of the Biennale Architettura 2023, The Laboratory of the Future – the British Pavilion presents Dancing Before the Moon, an exhibition comprising the new work of six artists and designers, Mac Collins, Sandra Poulson, Shawanda Corbett, Madhav Kidao, and Yussef Agbo-Ola, and Jayden Ali, as well as a film and soundscape.

The exhibition, curated for the British Council by Jayden Ali, Joseph Henry, Meneesha Kellay and Sumitra Upham, will be open to the public from 20 May until 26 November 2023. The installation centres on rituals as tools for disrupting and transforming spaces, with a focus on the role of ancient and everyday rituals in diasporic communities, and explores the concept of everyday rituals, including cooking and dancing, as mechanisms through which diasporic communities can establish spaces of belonging and encourage new lenses through which to reflect on architecture and the built environment, aimed at stimulating discourse that can disrupt and shape the future of British architecture.

The galleries of the pavilion will present objects by five UK-based artists and architects: Yussef Agbo-Ola, Mac Collins, Shawanda Corbett, Madhav Kidao and Sandra Poulson. The objects place particular emphasis on materials and making, as an exploration of cultural practices worldwide that influence spaces and environments. Dancing Before the Moon showcases a variety of creative disciplines aiming to expand on the notion of architecture as a practice fundamentally shaped by people and communities.

Shawanda Corbett Neighbourhood Garden, 2020, Courtesy the Artist and Corvi-Mora London, Photo Marcus Leith

Wellbeing Culture Forum: Liberating Spaces through Collaborative Praxis
British Pavilion, La Biennale di Venezia
18 May 2023
4.00PM – 6.00PM

Therme Art is hosting an iteration of its ongoing Wellbeing Culture Forum talks hosted at the British Pavilion on 18 May. The conversation will respond to wider themes addressed in the Venice Architecture Biennale, with a focus on the role of art and community rituals in promoting decolonisation and decarbonisation.

Collaborative spatial practices and pre-colonial methodologies can transform public spaces and lead to more sustainable approaches to the environment. The talk will discuss how creative and community-based practices can become agents of change for environmental restoration, taking into account issues of production, resources and representation in architecture. The discussion will focus on the intersections between decolonisation and decarbonisation for a more equitable and ecologically abundant world.

Panellists include:
Architect and Founder of Counterspace, Sumayya Vally;
Curator of the British Pavilion, Jayden Ali;
Curator of the British Pavilion, Joseph Henry;
Curator of the British Pavilion, Sumitra Upham;
Artist of the British Pavilion, Sandra Poulson;
Artist of the British Pavilion, Yussef Agbo-Ola

The conversation will be moderated by CEO and Curator Therme Art, Mikolaj Sekutowicz.

Curators (from left) Jayden Ali, Sumitra Upham, Meneesha Kellay and Joseph Henry, 2022 © BritishCouncil

On the British Pavilion presentation this year, Jayden Ali, Joseph Henry, Meneesha Kellay and Sumitra Upham commented:

“The British Pavilion at the Biennale Architettura 2023 is a space for rethinking the role that people play in shaping the built environment. It demonstrates the need for architecture to look beyond buildings and economic structures and towards everyday social practices, customs and traditions in order to meaningfully reflect how people use and occupy space.” 

Jayden Ali is the Founding Director of interdisciplinary practice JA Projects and a Senior Lecturer at Central Saint Martins; Joseph Henry is a designer and urbanist, co-founder of platform Sound Advice and is the Capital Development Manager in the Culture and Creative Industries Team at the Greater London Authority; Meneesha Kellay is a curator and commissioner, currently Senior Curator, Contemporary Programme at the V&A; and Sumitra Upham is a curator and writer, currently Head of Programmes at the Crafts Council.

Sevra Davis, Director of Architecture Design Fashion at the British Council and Commissioner of the British Pavilion said:

“We are delighted that the British Council Commission for the 18th International Architecture Exhibition will look at architecture and the built environment in a new way, advocating for rituals as a way of changing spaces. This newly commissioned installation presents a radically different vision for the UK – encouraging us to reconsider our customs and traditions and create more innovative, forward-thinking places.”

Speaking on the enduring partnership with the British Council, Founder and CEO of Therme Group Dr. Robert C. Hanea said:

“To see six talented artists from diasporic backgrounds coming together to honour their community’s rituals and traditions, demonstrates a key shift in our cultural values. These are precisely the forms of reflective architectural spaces that Therme Group supports, ones that empower diverse communities and personal expression.”

The British Council has been responsible for the British Pavilion at the International Art and Architecture Exhibitions organised by La Biennale di Venezia since 1937, showcasing the best of the UK’s artists, architects, designers and curators. These exhibitions, and the British Council’s Venice Fellowships initiative introduced in 2016, help make the British Pavilion a major platform for discussion about contemporary art and architecture. They also continue the British Council’s work in supporting peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and the international community.

Since 2012 the British Council has commissioned the exhibition through an open call. Curators have been encouraged to use the pavilion as a space for research, alongside showcasing pioneering architecture and challenging ideas.

The British Council is a valued member of Therme Group’s network of partner organisations that aims to extend Therme Art’s mission of supporting open dialogues on creating sustainable solutions for future cities through innovations in art and architecture.