Why We Publish (Books on Biennials)

dpr-barcelona for Volume #54: On Biennials

“Hundreds of thousands get made, blood, sweat and editorial tears go into them, yet barely a whimper is told about their relative merits.”
— Brendan Cormier

Following Brendan Cormier’s thoughtful question about the production, some times over-production, of books and other forms of printed matter in the context of bi(tri)ennials, on this essay we elaborate briefly on the history of this kind of events, articulate some thoughts about a few recent and remarkable examples of biennial books that have been produced in the context of the exhibition but simultaneously act as stand-alone publications. And finally, we argue that it’s worth keeping on making biennial books and that we have to face a challenge on two fronts: a challenge for the curators, editors, and cultural agents who produce the books; and a challenge for all of us, bookmakers and the readers who collect them, arguably not just as souvenirs. We’re also responsible for their biennial-afterlife.

The biennial will end, the performances hopefully preserved as YouTube videos, the plans and models returned to the architects’ studios or packed in boxes until a curator asks for them again, online magazines and blogs will have evaporated once sponsorship is gone, PR offices will be busy promoting the next hype. But the book, containing all the intellectual effort, will be able to be read years after the event. It will bring a sense of the cultural, social and political concerns of those years and will be discovered and possibly read by people who didn’t expect to witness a seminal part of such events, and their impact on the evolution of architectural discourse.

Read it on-line: Volume

Language: English

Date: January 2019

Publisher: Volume


The 10 sqm Co-op

Oslo Architecture Triennale and the Master in Architecture at the University of Luxembourg.