Pavilion of the Dominican Republic at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia

Venice, St. George’s Anglican Church, Campo San Vio – Dorsoduro 729/730

May 22th – November 21st, 2021


Opening: Friday 21st of May at 5.00 pm

also live streaming





Commissioner: Carmen Heredia de Guerrero – Minister of Culture of the Dominican Republic

Minister of Culture’s Representative in situ: Iris Peynado

Curator: Roberta Semeraro

Exhibitor: Lidia León Cabral


Alex Martínez Suárez, Jesús D’Alessandro, Juan Miguel Pérez, Julia Vicioso, Orisell Medina-Lagrange, Traza_do (collective of architects Melisa Vargas, Rafael Selman, Dante Luna, Javier Pérez, José Marion-Landais, Alejandro Marranzini, Carlos Aguilar, Keith Thomas, Laura Troncoso, Liza Ortega, Santiago Camarena, Yaqui Núñez), Michelle Valdez, Shaney Peña Gómez, Mizoocky Mota, Yomayra Martinó, Carmen Ortega, Ching Ling Ho, Sara Hermann, Virginia Flores-Sasso, Elia Mariel Martínez, Lissette Gil, Romina Santroni, Maribel Villalona.









The Ministry of Culture of the Dominican Republic has selected CONEXIÓN, by artist and architect LiLeón (Lidia León Cabral) and art critic Roberta Semeraro, for the pavilion representing the Dominican Republic at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia The pavilion is organized by the Ministry of Culture of the Dominican Republic, the Fundación LiLeón, and the RO.SA.M Cultural Association, with the patronage of the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic and the Embassy of the Dominican Republic in Italy and the support of Banco BHD León.


CONEXIÓN is a work of interior architecture created by LiLeón for St. George’s Anglican Church, offering a concrete example of architecture that supports and encourages a state of coexistence between individuals inside the space. The Anglican church is a pluralistic one, where diverse theological tendencies come together in harmony.

CONEXIÓN, a work that integrates the language of art into interior architecture, has found a perfect home in Venice’s Anglican church thanks to its character as a communal, vibrant space, open to all artistic expression. The installation was conceived as an interior design project, composed of panels made with tobacco leaves that create a dynamic and living space. Inside, visitors can recognize the infinite web of relationships that make up the fabric of society, and rediscover their connection to nature. The collage of tobacco leaves on the panels was inspired, in part, by the ancient stained-glass mosaic windows so distinctive of Venice’s extraordinary artistic and artisanal heritage. 

The work has been placed in the nave, the traditional public space of the church. The modular arrangement of the panels echoes the placement of the stained-glass windows in the upper part of the nave, dedicated to famous English residents of Venice – including J. Ruskin, who was the first to develop a theory emphasizing the importance of the links between art, nature, and the work of human beings.

LiLeón’s focus on the WABI SABI philosophy, a search for beauty in all stages of life, led her to design this installation as a kind of imaginary autumn garden. The tobacco leaves, in shades of brown and yellow ochre, echo the colors of the church’s religious artifacts and the precious eighteenth-century altarpiece frame. This cosmic vision, where the cyclical descending/ascending movement of the leaves represents the cyclical nature of being, and urges visitors towards a greater sense of collective spaces as a common good to be passed down to future generations. The transparency of the leaves, their veins visible, suggests the idea of a shared space as a single living organism, in which individual people are its infinite particles in perpetual transmigratory motion. 

A recent study by the California Institute of Technology discovered that the cells of tobacco plants are extremely strong, with mechanical properties similar to wood and superior to those of plastic of equal density. The possibility can therefore not be excluded that in the near future, tobacco leaves might be used in production processes as recycled material.

During this pandemic-stricken year, in which social distancing has led to a dramatic disconnection of communities from their collective spaces, CONEXIÓN has transformed into a virtual “place” and become a genuine interdisciplinary platform. It now features the participation of many prominent Dominican architects, urbanists, sociologists, environmentalists, journalists, representatives of public institutions etc., all invited to reflect on the question “How will we live together?”

Today, CONEXIÓN can be considered a laboratory of ideas for building a sustainable future, rethinking the collective spaces of our coexistence, and reflecting on the processes of creation found in nature. 

With these additional activities enriching the Dominican Pavilion, CONEXIÓN can be considered an example of living, inclusive, human-scale architecture, in which the virtual space becomes a complement to the physical in the experience of living and thinking together. Thanks to digital devices, visitors to the church will have the opportunity to participate in activities held in the Dominican Republic, and vice versa: the Dominican audience will be able to connect via streaming to events held in the church in Venice.

Special thanks to La Aurora, first tobacco factory in the Dominican Republic tabac factory, established in 1903, Industrias Aguayo de Construcción, Centro León.

Opening Hours

Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 – 18:00 – for special hours see


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