CSM to curate the British pavilion at the Shenzhen Biennale


17 June 2013

A team from Central Saint Martins has been announced as the curators and designers of the UK pavilion at the 2013 Shenzhen Urbanism and Architecture Bi-city Biennale.

The UK's contribution to the Biennale - now preparing for its fifth edition - will be delivered by a curatorial team led by the architect Jeremy Till, CSM's head of college, and made up of teachers from across the school's MA programmes.

The biennale, which explores the theme of urbanisation, will launch in December and be led by its creative director the architect Ole Bouman. The theme of the festival is "Urban Boundary".

"'Urban Boundary' is one of those biennale themes which is about everything and nothing," says Till, who was invited to pitch to lead the UK contribution by one of the biennale's curators, Li Xiangning.

"The general pitch is that as late capitalism has become the dominant force, urban space has become hardened through legal issues, gating and ownership," says Till. "The classic example of that is the Occupy movement, which could only find the steps of St Paul’s to camp out on. So the theme we took is ways of liquifying those boundaries."

The content of the exhibition is likely to be a set of four short films and animations examining this phenomenon, directed by the curatorial team and executed by MA students from the school's character animation and communication design courses.

Till said that his proposal was a response to his experience as curator of the British pavilion at the 2006 Venice Architecture Biennale.

"I became very aware of the limited attention spans at these things," he says. :Animations and films are a very direct way of getting potentially complex ideas across in a very direct manner and I quite like the idea of turning up at a Biennal with just a USB stick and plugging it in for the exhibit."

The curatorial team have also sent out an open call for content proposals, although Till stresses that the pavilion will nonetheless remain compact and minimal. "We'll be limited to what we can take out in suitcases," he says.

Despite the architectural nature of the biennale, student participation in the project will not be extended to CSM's BA architecture students or to students enrolled on its new MA architecture course, which begins this year.

"I think something like this has to be done at Masters level," says Till. "It’s a big public platform with a lot of people going through, so there’s a lot at stake. I don’t want it to look like a student exhibition, which is why I’ve got the teacher curatorial team. I love student exhibitions, but in this case I want to use the students as a way of expressing ideas."