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Exhibition Ireland at Venice

Commissioner/Curator for Venice Architecture Biennale 2014 Announced


Following an open competitive process, Gary A. Boyd and John McLaughlin were selected to act as Co-Commissioners/Curators. The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan indicated that his Department is committed to supporting Ireland’s participation at the Venice Biennale.

The 14th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice 2014 is entitled Absorbing Modernity 1914 – 2014 and will be held from 7th June to 23rd November 2014 at the Giardini and Arsenale venues.  Announcing the theme its director Rem Koolhaas stated – “Ideally, we would want the represented countries to engage a single theme – Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014, and to show, each in their own way, the process of the erasure of national characteristics in favour of the almost universal adoption of a single modern language in a single repertoire of typologies.”

Responding to the overall theme of the Biennale, Boyd and McLaughlin’s proposal looks at the social and material dimensions of infrastructures in forming the identity of Ireland since independence, and the embodiment of these in architecture. They explain how
“In an Irish context there are complex readings due to decolonisation and political independence. After independence the construction of new infrastructures was seen as part of the building of the new nation. The adoption of international style modernism in architecture was perceived as a way to escape the colonial past”.

Biographical Notes:

Gary A. Boyd: Co-Comissioner/Curator

Gary A. Boyd has a long established record of communicating architecture through teaching, publications and other means. He has been involved in teaching both history and theory and architectural design in schools of architecture since 1998, initially as college lecturer in UCD before embarking to UCC as senior lecturer at the inception of the new school there in 2006. Earlier this year he took up the post of Reader in architecture at Queens University Belfast.

Having graduated from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow in 1997, he took a PhD from University College Dublin in 2002. He was one of the founding members of GLAS: Glasgow Letters on Architecture and Space (www.glaspaper.com) and edited building material: the Journal of the Architectural Association of Ireland between 2004 and 2006. Other publications include Hospitals, Spectacle and Vice: Dublin 1745-1922 (Four Courts Press, 2002) which looked at the influence of institutions on the spatial and cultural development of early modern Dublin and, more recently, (with Denis Linehan) he co-edited Ordnance: War + Architecture & Space (Ashgate Press, 2013) which investigates the relationship between militarism and the production of the built environment. Current projects include co-curating (with Fiona Kearney) Folly: Art after Architecture, an exhibition at  the Glucksman Gallery, Cork.

John McLaughlin: Co-Comissioner/Curator

John McLaughlin is a practicing architect whose work covers a range of scales integrating architecture with urbanism, landscape and art. He is interested in exploring an expanded field for architecture through interdisciplinary work and has collaborated in this with other architects, engineers, landscape designers and visual artists.

He actively engages with opportunities for research projects and exhibitions. In 2012 he curated the Irish Pavilion at the Venice International Architecture Biennale, under the title Shifting Ground (www.shiftingground.ie) which was very well received both nationally and internationally. He has participated in many other international architecture exhibitions including: Architectures of Protest – Third Lisbon Architecture Triennale (2013); New Urbanity – Deutsches Architekturmuseum Frankfurt (2009); The Flood – Second Architecture Biennale Rotterdam (2005); 43 Schools of Architecture – Fifth Venice Architecture Biennale 1991 (college thesis project).

He is a graduate of UCD. After
college he worked in Paris and London for over a decade on major cultural and civic projects before returning to settle in Dublin He was director of architecture with Dublin Docklands Authority where he directed many groundbreaking projects including the Grand Canal Square development before starting private practice. He is currently Senior Lecturer (part-time) in Queens University Belfast School of Architecture and a Visiting Lecturer in both UCD School of Architecture and Cork Centre for Architectural Education.


John McLaughlin and Gary A. Boyd (Photo: Alice Clancy)

About Ireland at Venice

The Venice Biennale has for over a century been one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world. Established in 1895, the Biennale has an attendance today of over 400,000 visitors at the Art Exhibition. The Biennale dates back from 1895, when the first International Art Exhibition was organized. In the 1930s new festivals were born: Music, Cinema, and Theatre (the Venice Film Festival in 1932 was the first film festival ever organised). In 1980 the first Architecture Exhibition took place, and in 1999 Dance made its debut at the Venice Biennale.

The Venice Biennale remains the most important international showcase for contemporary arts. The biennial International Art and Architecture Exhibitions offer a unique opportunity for Ireland to showcase Irish imaginations to the world. The Biennale is a vital platform for Irish artists, curators and commissioners to gain international profile and to generate opportunities for them to present their work outside of Ireland. Irish artists Norah McGuinness and Nano Reid, were the first of many Irish artists to exhibit at the Venice Biennale in 1950.

Since 2005, national representation at the Venice Biennale has been an initiative of Culture Ireland, in partnership with the Arts Council.  Both partners consider the Venice Biennale to be an important opportunity for artists’ development and for Irish curators to work in an international context. 

Previous Irish Representation at the Venice Architecture Biennale

2012 – Heneghan Peng

2010 – deBlacam and Meagher


2008 – Commissioners – Ms. Nathalie Weadick, Director of the Irish Architecture Foundation, and Dr. Hugh Campbell, Senior Lecturer in Architecture at UCD


Grainne Hassett.

Gerry Cahill

O’Donnell + Tuomey

Patrick Lynch and Simon Walker

McCullough Mulvin

Dara McGrath in association with Robinson McIlwaine

De Paor Architects

Cian Deegan and Alice Casey from TAKA

Grafton Architects