Unified Geologic Map of the Moon, 1:5M, 2020; Credit: © United States Geological Survey (USGS), NASA and the Lunar Planetary Institute

The jury of the call for applications for the design of the Luxembourg Pavilion at the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2023 met for a second session on Tuesday 19 July 2022; it selected, among the three winning curatorial teams, the project "Down to Earth" by Francelle Cane and Marija Marić.

The jury congratulated the three winning teams of the first session for the high quality of the submitted projects. The jury's choice in this second phase was tough, as all the teams had put a lot of effort into formatting the documents submitted and had made well-prepared and well-defended oral presentations. The teams were able to provide a detailed analysis of the Luxembourg territory in the broadest sense as well as its inhabitants or users, while giving it a universal inflection by linking it to major contemporary issues: the question of land ownership and the management of space and resources, the tension between the normative nature of the relationship with the territory and a return to the body and the senses, or the narratives on which nations construct the scale through which they look at themselves and project themselves in space and time.

The jury unanimously selected the "Down to Earth" project by Francelle Cane and Marija Marić to design the Luxembourg Pavilion at the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale.

The project, focused on the question of extraterrestrial resources, their exploitation and the narratives that underlie the resulting economy, was chosen for both the topical and speculative nature of the theme, the clarity of the proposal, the precision of the reflections, sourced and referenced and the societal issues it raises. The jury felt that the straightforwardness of the message, supported by a simple scenography, articulated around a model of the Moon, a collection of "take-away" essays and three narrative videos, should allow the Biennial’s audience to enter the subject head-on.

The project highlights a topic that remains invisible to our eyes through a critical approach; it raises the issue of the resources of the Earth’s soil at different scales, but above all it raises the issue of the future world that we are creating by pushing back the limits of the spaces colonised and exploited by man beyond the Earth.

Extract from the Application / Down to Earth by Francelle Cane and Marija Marić: "The unbridled imagination of extractive growth has, quite literally, transcended the boundaries of the Earth. This shift in mining from the exhausted Earth to its 'invisible' backstage areas – celestial bodies, planets, and eventually the Moon itself – calls for urgent reflection on the impact this shift will have on our conceptions of land, resources and the commons, both on the ground and beyond. Described as 'the rising star of the space industry' and 'a pioneer in the exploration and use of space resources', Luxembourg, whose economy was once based on iron mining and steel production, appears as an important starting point for this debate".

The winning team is made up of two curators, Francelle Cane and Marija Marić, surrounded by an Advisory Board and a team of contributors in the fields of scenography, content production (videos and texts), media and publishing. They also hope to rely on a solid network of Luxembourg and international partners.

Francelle Cane is an architect, who graduated from the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Versailles (ÉNSA-V) in France in 2018, and has been a PhD student at the University of Luxembourg since 2021. She has worked as an architect in Paris and Berlin and has curated and designed numerous exhibitions. Her exhibition "Enter the Modern Landscape" has has been awarded the International WERNAERS Fund for Research and the Diffusion of Knowledge (FNRS; Brussels, Belgium).

Marija Marić holds a PhD in Science from the Department of Architecture at ETH Zurich (2020) and two Masters degrees: a Master of Arts from the Department for New Art Media, Academy of Arts, University of Novi Sad (Serbia) and a Master in Architecture from the Faculty of Technical Sciences in Novi Sad. She is currently an associate researcher for the Master in Architecture Programme at the University of Luxembourg's Department of Geography and Spatial Planning. She has received numerous academic awards and scholarships for her research work.