How Was It For You? is an investigation into the ways in which the Biennale institution serves the interests of the city and its residents. This report marks the beginning of We Are Here Venice’s efforts to objectively clarify some of the present dynamics, following years of observation and in the context of a continuous, ongoing research process. The size and influence of the Biennale institution means it is, and will continue to be, crucial in determining the future of the city. The question is not whether Venice should host the Biennale: it is a significant reality. But should Venice be getting more from the Biennale, and vice versa?
While the Biennale might draw the world’s gaze to Venice, it is of vital importance to investigate how this serves the interests of the city and its residents. Exhibitors clearly benefit from the extraordinary backdrop and visitors never tire of the pleasures of spending time in Venice, but the serious threats to both its historic urban fabric and future as a living city tend to remain in the shadows. This report was formulated as a response to the increasing awareness of the disconnect between the Biennale and Venice. The intention is to explicitly examine the growing relationship between the institution and the city and, where possible, objectively analyse both the positive and negative aspects of the perceived aims and outcomes of this dynamic.
A strategic planning approach is necessary in order to secure the future of the city. The first step towards addressing these problems is raising awareness of their existence and stimulating debate on the topics involved. We Are Here Venice endeavours to provide reliable, fixed points of information around which meaningful debates can take place, helping to find long term solutions which work for the city, and relate to the rest of the world. The report was undertaken during the XVI Architecture Biennale (Freespace, 2019) and is based on observations, collected data, interviews and media reports. The research presented in the study has stimulated some meaningful responses from exhibition curators, exhibitors and in the press.