Francis Kéré © Lars Borges
Yesterday’s Tomorrow project by architect Francis Kéré for 23rd Triennale Milano International Exhibition
March 16 2022
The Pritzker Architecture Prize 2022's winner Francis Kéré will curate and attend the 23rd Triennale Milano International Exhibition with his project Yesterday’s Tomorrow.
In a day and age where the possibility of 3D printing entire buildings is being discussed, the architectural intervention of Francis Kéré at the 23rd Triennale is reminiscent of the building and material knowledge that got us to this point and that we should not forget as we move forward.
As a building comes to be brick by brick, so knowledge has foundations onto which we can construct pillarsthat reach new heights. To do so with the best of our ability we need to be masters in the lessons that preceded us. Have past inform the future and bring time together in a participative manner. Participative for this intervention does not just mean having many hands involved, but it means working across generations and experience, across time and across theory and practice.
To achieve this Francis Kéré is planning to include both students from the Politecnico di Milano and members of the Burkinabè diaspora in Italy to build and embellish the structure he is creating for the exhibition.
Using clay bricks the intervention consists of an exterior pillar, past which visitors step into the “Unknown Unknowns”. The sculpture continues as a wall that snakes its way along the first hallway and eventually to an enclosed seating area where visitors can sit and immerse themselves into a material that speaks to what was and what is to come.
Francis Kéré, Opera Village Phase 1, Laongo, Burkina Faso, 2010 © Courtesy of Francis Kéré
The wall’s surface is to be painted in a manner reminiscent of the patterns found in vernacular architecture in Burkina Faso. These patterns tell stories, speak to who lives in a place, who constructed it and who protects it. How such practices can be translated into sculptural work is to be explored here. This is an attempt not to lose tradition, but rather catapult it forward.
At its base the intervention adds practices and times that too often are left out of mainstream, Eurocentric conversations about the future or are only invited to discourses that are confined and defined already. This invisibility that is prevalent from the drawing board to focused discussions is subtly broken up here, by reminding those pressing onwards that there is knowledge that should be taken into the Unknown Unknowns that is ahead.
The building of the intervention and its finishing touches is already participative, but visitors can stroll through and around the sculpture interacting with it. The way in which the work weaves and folds in itself is an invitation to to touch it, to step into conversation with it. The sculpture could be used for Triennale programming including talks, presentation, performances. Furthering the works purpose of being truly a part of a conversation not an insular object sitting on the outskirts of a significant cultural event.
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