Dancing Before The Moon celebrates and explores the roles of rituals in transforming and occupying spaces

The British Council and the commissioned curators – Jayden Ali, Joseph Henry, Meneesha Kellay and Sumitra Upham – are pleased to announce plans for the British Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia 2023, which runs from 20th May to 26th November 2023.

This year’s inspiration 

‘Dancing Before the Moon’ aims to inspire debate that will challenge and influence the future of British architecture. Through its installations of new work, and a film and soundscape, it promotes the idea that everyday rituals (from growing food and cooking to playing games and dancing) are forms of spatial practice for diasporic communities and present new ways of thinking about architecture and the built environment. 

What to expect

As visitors approach the entrance of the British Pavilion, they will immediately encounter a new exterior installation designed by Jayden Ali. The main hall of the pavilion will consist of a large cinematic installation highlighting the central role that rituals play in reflecting the traditions and community values of people living in the UK.

Inside the pavilion, the galleries will focus on objects conceived and produced by six UK-based artists and architects, with an interest in materials and making: Jayden Ali, Mac Collins, Shawanda Corbett, Madhav Kidao, Sandra Poulson and Studio Olaniyi. The objects will reflect global rituals and cultural practices that impact space. 

Collectively, this exhibition champions an expanded notion of architecture. One that is intangible, that cross-pollinates with performance, craft and other creative disciplines, and that is shaped by people. 

Sevra Davis, Director of Architecture Design Fashion at the British Council and Commissioner of the British Pavilion said: 

'We are delighted that the British Council Commission for the 18th International Architecture Exhibition will look at architecture and the built environment in a new way, advocating for rituals as a way of changing spaces. This newly commissioned installation presents a radically different vision for the UK – encouraging us to reconsider our customs and traditions and create more innovative, forward-thinking places.'

The British Council has been responsible for the British Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia since 1937, showcasing the best of the UK's artists, architects, designers and curators. These exhibitions, and the British Council’s Venice Fellowships initiative introduced in 2016, help make the British Pavilion a major platform for discussion about contemporary art and architecture. 

Meet the Curators

The 2023 selection panel

The final panel selecting the 2023 pavilion was chaired by Sevra Davis, Director of Architecture Design Fashion at the British Council and Commissioner of the British Pavilion and also included:

Simon Allford, President RIBA

Gus Casely-Hayford, Director V&A East

Carole-Anne Davies, Chief Executive, Design Commission for Wales

Anab Jain, Co-Founder and Director, Superflux  

Chithra Marsh, Associate Director, Buttress Architects

Dr. Agustina Martire, Senior Lecturer in Architecture, Queen’s University Belfast

Vanessa Norwood, Creative Director, Building Centre

Dr. Neal Shasore, Head of School and Chief Executive Officer, London School of Architecture


The full press release is available here.


Visual identity by TEMPLO.co.uk