The Board of Directors of the Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Paolo Baratta, appointed Kazuyo Sejima as Director of the Architecture Sector, with specific responsibility for curating the 12th International Architecture Exhibition to be held in Venice in the Giardini and Arsenale between 29th August and 21st November 2010 (vernissage on 26th , 27th and 28th August). Kazuyo Sejima is the first woman to direct the Architecture Sector of the Biennale.
Born in Japan, in the prefecture of Ibaraki in 1956, Kazuyo Sejima is a leading exponent of contemporary architecture. In 1981, she took a degree in architecture at the Japan Women's University and began working in the studio of Toyo Ito. In 1987, she opened her own studio in Tokyo. In 1995, together with Ryue Nishizawa, she founded SANAA, the Tokyo studio that has designed some of the most innovative works of architecture built recently around the world, from the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York to the Serpentine Pavilion in London and from the Christian Dior Building in Omotesando (Tokyo) to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, which won the Golden Lion in 2004 for the most significant work of the 9th International Architecture Exhibition of the Biennale di Venezia. In 2000, she was also the curator for the Japanese Pavilion, called City of Girls, at the 7th International Architecture Exhibition of the Biennale di Venezia. Kazuyo Sejima has taught at Princeton University and at the Polytechnique de Lausanne. She is currently a lecturer at Keio University.
A constant focus on research characterizes all of her work, heir to the thousand-year tradition that has inspired the minimalist geometry of contemporary Japanese architecture. Toyo Ito describes her as an architect who uses the maximum simplicity to link the material and the abstract.
With regard to her ideas for the Biennale, Kazuyo Sejima has declared:
We are now well into the 21st Century. We can take this opportunity to step back and assess the zeitgeist of now through the process of the Biennale. This can clarify contemporary essentials of architecture and the importance of new relationships as we step into the future. One potent point of departure could be the boundaries and adaptation of space. This might include the removal of boundaries, as well as their clarification. Any part of architectures inherent multiplicity of adjacencies can become a topic. It might be argued that contemporary architecture is a rethinking and perhaps softening of those borders.
Perhaps the oxymoron can represent a productive new paradigm; can these binaries (intersections of public/private, global/local, artificial/natural, monumental/mundane, complex/simple, symbolic/pragmatic, fake/authentic, active/passive, thickness/thinness) lead to a duality capable of blurring these boundaries? How can the unexpected interdependency of extraordinary spaces create a communal/symbiotic dialogue between adjacencies? Equally, there is another thread of interest; people in architecture, human encounters in both public and private scenarios, both as creators and users. This is an issue of individual life in interplay with the community. It may be as simple as people meet in architecture. In its totality the Biennale can both a new and active forum for contemporary ideas as well as a close reading of buildings themselves.