Irish Pavilion: A cultural perspective on sustainable and resilient communities

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Image © Ste Murray | Photography + Design

Irish Pavilion is all set to feature an exhibition named “In Search of Hy-Brasil” during the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023. Ireland’s representation at the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale 2023 was announced by Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport, and Media, at the Royal Irish Academy on Thursday, May 4, 2023. The exhibition will focus on the potential of architecture to create sustainable and resilient communities, highlighting architecture’s integral role in our world.

The exhibition is curated by a group of five architects chosen from an open appeal to represent Ireland: Peter Carroll, Peter Cody, Elizabeth Hatz, Mary Laheen, and Joseph Mackey. The architecture exhibition will be an engaging one, with each of the five architects bringing a unique perspective to the table to showcase the vibrant culture of Ireland. By partnering with Culture Ireland and its Departments of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport, and Media, the Irish Pavilion is able to bring a unique representation of the island nation to the world, giving its audience a glimpse into the rarely-seen regions of Ireland. From May 20 to November 26, 2023, the pavilion’s doors will be open to the public.

Image © Ste Murray | Photography + Design

Following that, in 2024, the installation will make its way through Ireland, bringing perspectives from remote regions into discussions about the world’s future. It is an opportunity to stimulate dialogue and interaction across cultures, with the potential to create a lasting impact. Responding to the theme, the Laboratory of the Future, chosen by curator of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023, Lesley Lokko, ‘In Search of Hy-Brasil’, the Irish Pavilion, will showcase the unique ways of life on the outlying islands, demonstrating how renewable energy, ethical food production, and biodiversity can be part of a sustainable and balanced relationship between culture and nature. The pavilion will also explore how these islands have adapted to climate change and how they have responded to increasing globalization. In addition, the pavilion will highlight the importance of preserving these cultures for future generations.

In quest of new ways of inhabiting the world, the pavilion sets out to explore the different cultures, communities, and experiences of Ireland’s outlying islands. The deep interactions that exist between humankind and nature are preserved in the Irish language. Hy – Brasil is a mythical Atlantic island that represents the idea of reimagining an island of Ireland and its ocean region. By exploring the intertwined concepts of myth, language, and landscape, Hy-Brasil encapsulates the power of the Irish imagination to create a unique experience of place.

Image © Ste Murray | Photography + Design

The curatorial team explored the island landscapes of Inis Meáin (Inishmaan), Sceilg Mhicl (Skellig Michael), and Cliara (Clare Island) using drawing, survey, film, sound, model, mapping, and story to develop the topic. The project will provide an immersive experience that connects the social fabric, cultural landscape, and ecology of these islands, changing between the global and the local, the territorial and the intimate.

The installation will focus on renewable energy, ethical food production, and biodiversity, capturing the islands’ sustainable ways of livelihood through drawings, models, film, sound, writing, and language to raise awareness of the islanders’ resource management and their balancing of the delicate equilibrium between culture and nature. Natural light will be employed as the primary source of illumination throughout the artwork to highlight the organic process of circadian rhythms and the negative impact of light pollution, while also emulating the natural circumstances on the islands.

Image © Ste Murray | Photography + Design

Using large slabs of local limestone from the nearby islands of Inis Meáin (Inishmaan), Sceilg Mhichl (Skellig Michael), and Cliara (Clare Island), In Search of Hy-Brasil will provide an immersive experience that connects the social fabric, cultural landscape, and ecosystems of these islands, shifting between the global and the local, territorial and intimate. The exhibit will also include local materials that highlight each island’s traditional past, such as sea bags woven from abandoned fisherman’s rope, a linen tapestry depicting Ireland’s marine zone, and an abstraction of Sceilg Mhichl created from Galway sheep’s wool.

Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport, and Media, states that ‘In Search of Hy-Brasil’ examines the relationship between the islands of Ireland and their natural environment. She also goes on to say how exciting it is to see how adaptability to harsh conditions over the centuries can show people the way to more sustainable living today. The theme of this edition is an urgent call to action for us all to reduce emissions and make our environment more sustainable.

‘In Search of Hy-Brasil’ will go on tour in Ireland in 2024 after its premiere in Venice. The curatorial team will strive to deepen the narrative by reproducing elements of the installation on the islands, bringing voices from remote regions into mainstream dialogues about our global future. The installation’s curators will write an essay book and contribute to an upcoming documentary.

We encourage you to stay tuned to ParametricArchitecture for detailed updates on the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023.

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