The Venice Architecture Biennale always brings together the best of the best. But the concentration of talent was particularly potent this morning, at the strike of 11 A.M. to be exact.
It was then that more than a hundred female architects and their professional allies gathered before the Giardini’s Central Pavilion for a flash mob of sorts – a carefully choreographed celebration of women in the field. Familiar faces included Toshiko Mori, Marion Weiss, Odile Decq, Farshid Moussavi, and Jeanne Gang.
“We as Voices of Women are building conversations and taking actions to raise awareness to combat pervasive prejudices and disrespectful behavior that appears to be systemic in our culture and discipline,” declares the group’s manifesto. “We are united in denouncing discrimination, harassment, and aggressions against any member of our community. We will not tolerate it. We will not stand silent. Women are not a minority in the world, but women are still a minority in the architecture’s field, and we want that it could reflect better the world in which we live.”
In keeping with that spirit, participants hailed from all around the globe, thanks to a pass-it-along email that had been translated into five languages. Many attendees waved fans in the air – a symbolic gesture of camaraderie (as in fans of female voices). That this show of solidarity should happen outside, in a shared public place, only underscores the theme of the Biennale, which explores how common space can be used for our collective benefit.
The manifesto continues: “The Venice Biennale 2018 ‘Free Space’ is a crucial moment of awakening to promote equitable and respectful treatment of all members of the architectural community irrespective of gender, race, nationality, sexuality, and religion. We will join hands with coworkers, students, clients, collaborators, and our male colleagues to create a new path forward toward equitable work and educational environments that promote respectful discourse and open exchange of ideas.”