Lesley Lokko to Helm 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale

December 17th, 2021

Top architectural academic Lesley Lokko will organize the 2023 iteration of the Venice Architecture Biennale, becoming the first Black curator to oversee the event. Lokko is also one of the few women to ever lead the Biennale, after Kazuyo Sejima in 2010 and Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara in 2018. 

The Dundee, Scotland–born Lokko, who grew up in Ghana and holds a PhD in architecture from the University of London, has for decades championed the idea that architecture and race are intertwined, a notion she illuminated in the 2000 volume White Papers, Black Marks: Race, Space and Architecture. The founder of two architecture schools—the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg and the African Futures Institute in Accra, Ghana—Lokko additionally launched the publication FOLIO: Journal of Contemporary African Architecture, of which she remains editor in chief. In 2020, she made waves when she stepped down from the post of director of Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York, to which she had been appointed the previous year, citing institutional racism at the institution as the cause.

“After two of the most difficult and divisive years in living memory, architects have a unique opportunity to show the world what we do best: put forward ambitious and creative ideas that help us imagine a more equitable and optimistic future in common,” said Lokko. “Speaking to you from the world’s youngest continent, I would like to thank President [Robert] Cicutto and the entire team of La Biennale di Venezia for this bold, brave choice.”