24 November 2023 — Announcement

A Fragile Correspondence to return to Scotland after successful run at La Biennale di Venezia

Photograph of the exhibition with a blurry person walking through the space
A Fragile Correspondence – Work on display in Loch Ness section – photo by Daniele Sambo

A Fragile Correspondence will return to Scotland in November 2024 where it will be showcased at V&A Dundee after its May to November run this year in Venice.

Commissioned by the Scotland + Venice partnership and curated by a creative team consisting of the Architecture Fringe, -ism magazine, and /other, A Fragile Correspondence has run from 20 May to 26 November 2023 at _docks_cantieri cucchini, as part of the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.

Exhibition highlights

From May to November this year, the exhibition attracted over 15,000 visitors with feedback from exit surveys showing that 100 % of visitors would recommend the exhibition to others.

The exhibition has been praised by visitors for its poetic expansion of what architecture can be, highlighting how we can better understand the landscapes of Scotland by paying closer attention to the natural world through various different languages such as Gaelic, Norn, Scots and English.

Visitors also praised the beautiful displays and how the project presented a wider picture of Scotland, often reflecting upon significant moments in the nation’s collective memory such as the closure of the Ravenscraig steelworks.

From May to November 2023, the exhibition hosted eleven events including events and workshops organised as part of the professional development programme which has supported young people from across Scotland. Outside of Venice, events also took place in Scotland and Ireland to support the exhibition with a total of 19 collaborators taking part.

About the exhibition

A Fragile Correspondence asks how a closer relationship between land and language can help architecture be more attuned to the environment in which it operates. In doing so, the exhibition explores alternative perspectives and new approaches to the challenges of the worldwide climate emergency.

From the forests around Loch Ness, the seashore of the Orkney archipelago, and the industrialised remnants of the Ravenscraig steelworks, the project takes us on a journey through three Scottish landscapes across the Highlands, Islands and Lowlands.

Through creative explorations including artworks, photography, sculpture, installation work, film, audio and sound, and by proposing a new lexicon of terms and definitions, the exhibition looks to see the potential in possible futures that sensitively work in correspondence with the land rather than simply upon it.

About the creative team

The project is a curatorial collaboration between the Architecture Fringe, -ism magazine, and /other. Their curatorial approach centres on a shared understanding and appreciation of diverse cultural nuance, lived experience, and a close reading of social, political, and environmental contexts.

The Architecture Fringe is a self-initiated non-profit volunteer-run organisation which explores architecture and its impact within our collective public life. -ism magazine is an independent publication based in Glasgow with a desire for bold and critical reflection on the built environment and creating accessible writing for voices of diverse backgrounds. /other is a collective of POC (people of colour) creatives that centres the marginalised individual within architectural discourse.

Representing each collective is Neil McGuire and Andy Summers for the Architecture Fringe, Kristina Enberg, Amy McEwan, Aoife Nolan, Alissar Riachi for -ism magazine, and Alyesha Choudhury, Carl C.Z. Jonsson and Mia Pinder-Hussein for /other (pronounced: slash other).

Exhibition participants include Dele Adeyemo, Prof. Donna Heddle, Aaron McCarthy, Frank McElhinney, Dr. Mairi McFadyen, Hamshya Rajkumar, Raghnaid Sandilands, and Dr. Amanda Thomson. Exhibition collaborators are Simon Forsythe for Lateral North, and Ann Louise Kieran for North Lanarkshire Council.

Architecture and identity

Amanda Catto, Head of Visual Arts for Creative Scotland and Chair of the Scotland + Venice partnership said: “The Scotland + Venice partners are delighted that our contribution to this year’s Biennale Architettura has been so positively received by visitors from across the world.   A Fragile Correspondence has enabled us to strengthen Scotland’s reputation as an ambitious and innovative centre that is internationally open to new ideas and partnerships.  With plans confirmed with V&A Dundee, we’re looking forward to sharing this important and thought-provoking work with audiences from across Scotland, and further afield.  Our thanks go to the creative team and their collaborators for bringing such a breadth of vision and depth of research to the project.”

Culture Minister Christina McKelvie said: “This year we have seen Scotland’s design talent shine on the world stage again, with A Fragile Correspondence delivering a truly fantastic exhibition at the Venice architecture biennale.  I’m delighted that audiences in Scotland will have the opportunity to enjoy the work next year at V&A Dundee and to engage with inspirational and stimulating dialogue on our architecture and identity.”

Caroline Grewar, Director of Programme at V&A Dundee, said: “It is a great pleasure to welcome the Scotland + Venice partnership back to V&A Dundee, to bring this latest exhibition home to Scotland. A Fragile Correspondence looks closely at the architecture and landscape of Scotland, encouraging us all to reconsider our beautiful country, and how we all design, build and live in it. There has never been a more important time to explore how architecture and the natural environment interact, and no better place to have these conversations than within Scotland’s design museum.”

Provocative work

Neil McGuire of the Architecture Fringe has said: “It has been a real privilege to exhibit ‘A Fragile Correspondence’ as part of this year’s Venice Biennale. Inspired by Biennale Director Lesley Lokko’s theme of The Laboratory of the Future, the exhibition has successfully drawn together provocative work from a diverse range of Scotland-based creative practitioners. Using some of the country’s rich linguistic heritage to better explore and understand our contemporary relationship with land and its culture, the exhibition has underlined the clear need for human activity to be in better dialogue with our natural environments if we are to meet the challenges of the worldwide climate emergency.

It’s been incredibly rewarding to contribute forward-thinking and highly relevant ideas from Scotland to worldwide conversations on architecture, culture, politics and the climate. Through the exhibition and its contents we have been able to create connections and build relationships with other nations and exhibitors, placing expanded forms of contemporary practice into an international context via the world’s largest exhibition platform for art and architecture, new ideas and new voices.”

Alissar Riachi of -ism magazine has said: “A Fragile Correspondence has offered -ism the unique opportunity to collaborate and engage with people both within the profession as well as at its periphery, enabling the amplification of voices that are essential to creating a nurturing relationship between language, landscape and the built environment. We are honoured to have been able to represent Scotland alongside Architecture Fringe and /other, who continuously inspire us, and with whom we embarked on a journey of unlearning, hopefully creating momentum for more collective action in the context of the climate emergency.”

Carl Jonsson of /other has said: “It has been incredibly enriching to witness so many people engaging with A Fragile Correspondence in different, special ways, validating as much as widening our understanding of what Scotland on an international stage is and can be. We feel with a deep sense of fulfilment and gratitude that with the closing of the exhibition in Venice, things are not coming to end, but are living on. This is thanks to the meaningful interactions we’ve had with our collaborators, fellow exhibitors, and diverse individuals – the sort of connections that have reaffirmed our ways of practice into the future.”

The Scotland + Venice partnership consists of Creative Scotland, British Council Scotland, National Galleries of Scotland, Architecture and Design Scotland, V&A Dundee and the Scottish Government.