Lesley Lokko’s sprawling, dense Biennale asks us to engage different representational languages. It’s a slow burn, but finding new legibility takes a moment.
“Zt. Zzt. ZZZzzzZZZzzzzZZZzzzzzzZZZZzzzzzzzzZZZzzzzzZZZzzzzo’ona,” begins The Old Drift, Namwali Serpell’s 2019 novel set in Zambia. The insistent whine of a mosquito. Her pesky, omniscient narrator traverses generations and geographies. It’s a tale of violence and the folly of colonization. That hum, indigenous and persistent, singular and swarm, is the consciousness of the African continent.Those ZZZs droned through the Arsenale and Giardini as participants, journalists, and VIPs gathered to kick off the eighteenth International Venice Architecture Biennale, and echoed across alleys and piazze made damp by unseasonal rain and high tides. Venice, after all, is a reformed swamp with mosquitos of its own.