The Board of La Biennale di Venezia on the recommendation of board president Roberto Cicutto has appointed Lesley Lokko as the new curator for the 18th International Architecture Exhibition to the held in 2023.
Lesley Lokko is a Scottish-Ghanaian architect, educator, and best-selling novelist — becoming the first black architect to curate the Venice Architecture Biennale.
Working across architecture and literature for the past thirty years, Lokko’s work has explored the relationship between race, culture and space.
She is the founder and director of African Futures Institute, established in Accra, Ghana in 2020, as a postgraduate school of architecture and public event platform.
This is only the third time the board has selected a woman architect to curate the prestigious event. Previously, Kazuyo Sejima in 2010 and Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara in 2018 were selected to curate the Venice Architecture Biennale.
“Speaking to you from the world’s youngest continent, I would like to thank President Cicutto and the entire team of La Biennale di Venezia for this bold, brave choice,” said Lesley Lokko.
She continues, “A new world order is emerging, with new centres of knowledge production and control. New audiences are also emerging, hungry for different narratives, different tools and different languages of space, form, and place."
Lokko is the recipient of several awards for architectural educations – the RIBA Annie Spink Award for Excellence in Education 2020; the AR Ada Louise Huxtable Prize for Contributions to Architecture 2021.
She is the founder and editor-in-chief of FOLIO: Journal of Contemporary African Architecture.
In 2004, she made the transition from architecture to fiction with several successful publications including, Sundowners (Orion), following up with further novels. Her thirteenth novel, The Lonely Hour will be published in 2023 by Pan Macmillan.
Roberto Cicutto had this to say, “The appointment of Lesley Lokko as curator of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition is a way of welcoming the gaze of an international personality who is able to interpret, through different roles, her own position in the contemporary debate on architecture and cities, which takes as its starting point her own experience immersed in a continent that is increasingly becoming a laboratory of experimentation and proposals for the whole contemporary world.”
Lokko holds a PhD in Architecture from the University of London and a BSc (Arch) and MArch from the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.
Lokko was a member of the International Jury of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia in 2021.