Dominican Republic Exhibition for the 2021 Venice Biennale Invites Visitors to Rediscover their Connection with Nature

A report from Arch Daily.

For the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, the Dominican Republic presents the exhibition CONEXIÓN by artist and architect LiLeón (Lidia León Cabral) and art critic Roberta Semeraro. Hosted at Venice’s Anglican Church, the project lies at the intersection of art and interior architecture, and is inspired by “the bond between the Dominican Republic and Mother Earth”.

Conexión (detail of tobacco leaves) by Lidia León Cabral. Image © Luis Nova
Conexión (detail of tobacco leaves) by Lidia León Cabral.

Reflecting on the creation processes found in nature, the installation is composed of a series of panels made with tobacco leaves meant to express the infinite web of relationships that creates the fabric of society, inviting visitors to rediscover their connection to nature. The leaves’ transparency and their visible veins suggest the idea of collective space as a singular living organism. The project is also inspired in part by the stained-glass windows, which are a staple of Venice’s artisanal heritage. The project’s autumnal chromatic is both an echo of the WABI SABI philosophy, a search for beauty in all stages of life, and a nod to the church’s religious artifacts. CONEXIÓN creates the setting for a laboratory of ideas focused on building a sustainable future.

Conexión by Lidia León Cabral. Image © Jean Alberto Rodríguez
Conexión by Lidia León Cabral.

Discovering the interconnections between science, nature and spirituality, revealing the link between the intangible and the visible. My work reiterates the awareness of feeling that I am a reflection of a collective reality broader than personal individual reality. It reveals that we are all interconnected, like drops from the same Ocean – Lidia León Cabral

Taking place at Venice’s Anglican Church, the exhibition builds on space’s pluralistic and communal character. The installation is placed in the nave, the traditional public area of the church, and the placement of the tobacco leaves panels reiterates the rhythm of the stained-glass windows of the church. The work also brings to the foreground the potential of tobacco leaves to be used as recycled material in production processes, citing the findings of a study by the California Institute of Technology. The latter discovered that the cells of tobacco plants are extremely strong, with mechanical properties similar to wood and superior to those of plastic of equal density.

Tobacco plantation in Dominican Republic. Image © Domingo Batista
Tobacco plantation in Dominican Republic.

The installation created by León Cabral will become the backdrop for interdisciplinary dialogues between prominent Dominican architects, urbanists, sociologists, environmentalists, and journalists, all exploring the question “How will we live together?”. During last year’s lockdown, CONEXIÓN was used as a framework for creating a dense network of relationships between government, different experts, and institutions in the Dominican Republic. The physical exhibition will be complemented by a series of virtual events, as visitors will have the opportunity to participate in activities held in the Dominican Republic and vice versa.

exhibitors at the Dominican Republic Pavilion. Image Courtesy of Dominican Republic Pavilion
exhibitors at the Dominican Republic Pavilion.

Throughout her career, Lidia León Cabral has been blending art and architecture, having previously participated at the 58th Biennale Art Exhibition in Venice with her work “Te Veo, Me Veo” and currently being a member of the committee of “Reserva Los Robles”, a groundbreaking urban development project in Santo Domingo.

  • Commissioner: Carmen Heredia de Guerrero – Minister of Culture of the Dominican Republic
  • Minister of Culture’s Representative in situ: Iris Peynado
  • Curator: Roberta Semeraro
  • Exhibitor: Lidia León Cabral with: Alex Martínez Suárez, Jesús D’Alessandro, Juan Miguel Pérez, Julia Vicioso, Orisell Medina-Lagrange, Traza_do (collective of architects Melisa Vargas, Rafael Selman, Dante Luna, Javier Pérez, José Marion-Landais, Alejandro Marranzini, Carlos Aguilar, Keith Thomas, Laura Troncoso, Liza Ortega, Santiago Camarena, Yaqui Núñez), Michelle Valdez, Shaney Peña Gómez, Mizoocky Mota, Yomayra Martinó, Carmen Ortega, Ching Ling Ho, Sara Hermann, Virginia Flores-Sasso, Elia Mariel Martínez, Lissette Gil, Romina Santroni, Maribel Villalona

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