This Year’s Venice Architecture Biennial Will Feature a ‘Cruising Pavilion’ Exploring Gay Sex in Public
Gay people have been cruising for sex in public spaces — like bars, back alleys and bathhouses — throughout history. And now, an exhibition at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennial called the Cruising Pavilion will examine these spaces and the social role they’ve served.
The Venice Architecture Biennial, an exhibition of Italian architecture held every other year in Venice, Italy, typically features panels, gatherings and academic talks by architects and art historians. But the Cruising Pavilion at this year’s event will feature works from 20 artists that explore sexual spaces in different ages, and not just ones used by gay men.
For instance, the Cruising Pavilion’s Instagram account includes a blueprint for Claude Nicolas Ledoux’s 1780 “Maison du Plaisir” (a House of Pleasure), an architectural way for European governments to reform municipal sex work. The blueprint was part of a radical treatise discussing the role of art, morals and legislation in social-sexual health.
A 2015 installation entitled Cruising Extinction, Gaybar shows an empty and strangely sterile bar flooded with colored fluorescent light, flat screen TVs and a translucent rainbow flag amid a bar of black stools and chrome tables. It looks unromantic and sanitized compared to the world show in Patrice Chéreau’s 1983 French film L’Homme blessé (The Wounded Man), a film where sexual encounters happen in a dark, wet train station tunnel.