The show is split into four themed areas entitled: Stories, Practices, Narratives and Visions, along with Frida Escobedo’s installation UNSEEN, which revisits a work by Anni Albers, making for a firmly female-focused exhibition. From Signe Hornborg, the first woman in the world to graduate in Architecture in Helsinki in 1890, to Zaha Hadid, the first female architect to win the prestigious Pritzker Prize, in 2004, Norma Merrick Sklarek, the first Afro-American woman to enter the profession in 1954, by way of icons of modernist design such as Charlotte Perriand and Eileen Gray, right up to the exponents of contemporary architecture such as Elizabeth Diller and Kazuyo Sejima and the emerging architects Francesca Torzo and Lucy Styles, whose work is already held in the MAXXI Architecture collection.
The Stories section of the show features 85 women architects, designers who over the course of the 20th century have marked the growth and the evolution of the profession. They include Phyllis Lambert and Lina Bo Bardi, among the most prominent and revolutionary of the 20th century, whose stories are told through documents, photographs, correspondence and models displayed on 8 tables/islands that divide the space into 11 “rooms.” The Practices section offers a glimpse of the international contemporary architectural scene through the work of 11 architects, each of whom is presented through videos, models, photographs and installations. Furthermore, the artistic component comes out in the work of Elizabeth Diller, showcasing her famous installation Bad Press, and that of Mariam Kamara, the Nigerian architect ranked by the New York Times among the 15 Creative Women of Our Time, and who has produced the installation Room for Introspection for the exhibition, a black room in which elements of her culture emerge. Elena Motisi and Elena Tinacci, curators of the exhibition, said: “Buone Nuove is an important exhibition for the MAXXI; it allows us to further our intention to narrate an evolving architectural world and promote the best energies. We want to underscore three themes – the first is the increasing practice of freeing the professional world of architecture from the prejudices and habits that have often held women and other “non-standard” entities such as collectives, couples, open formations back from being affirmed. The second concerns the impression that broadening the professional circuit in the sense of gender equality, is a positive contribution to the power of architecture to respond to the urgencies of the present. The final point sees Italy, a place where there are many women among the leading emerging designers, as an advanced example of this transformation.” Finally, the Narratives section of the exhibition is brought alive by the faces and voices of key figures in the architectural, academic and research worlds. There are 12 interviews conducted by the Mies.TV collective, while the Visions section reflects on the relationship between gender identity and space, illustrated by 5 videos produced as part of the Future Architecture Platform programme, a network of 27 European institutions that involves young creatives in activities and events throughout Europe.