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The Canada Council for the Arts looks forward to supporting Canada’s official entry at the postponed Venice Biennale in 2021

On May 18, 2020, the Biennale di Venezia announced that, given the COVID-19 pandemic, the 17th International Architecture Exhibition will be postponed to 2021. With this change, the Canada Council for the Arts remains committed to supporting Canada’s official entry to the Biennale, Impostor Cities, presented by TBA + David Theodore, at next year’s event.  

The Canada Council remains committed to supporting future Biennales, where our conversations will undoubtedly turn towards the ways in which architecture can help us build a healthy, prosperous, and inspiring world in the wake of this crisis.  

About Canada’s Official Entry: Impostor Cities

Canada’s architecture is film-famous. That’s because Canadian cities often double as other places onscreen. Toronto stands in for Tokyo, for example, while Vancouver and Montreal masquerade as Moscow, Paris, and New York. Impostor Cities celebrates the Canadian cities that pose as these amazing cinematic impostors, bringing attention to how our architecture appears to the world through the silver screen.

Impostor Cities proposes new directions and agendas for thinking about Canada’s architectural identity as it poses the question, Why are Canada’s buildings so good at doubling as elsewhere in films? The exhibition aims to shift our perspectives, supplanting traditional frameworks of climate, geography, history and politics as the keys to understanding Canada’s rich and diverse architecture. It will feature several of the country’s cinematic icons such as Erickson-Massey’s quadrangle at Simon Fraser University and Pomphrey’s R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, historic architecture such as Kingston’s Market Square and Winnipeg’s Exchange District, and generic cityscapes from Halifax to Vancouver.

The exhibition plays with the enchantment of cinema. Visitors will encounter a Canada Pavilion transformed into a bold icon that is visible across the Giardini. Inside, an immersive experience will place visitors in movie mode, inducing a change in attitude that prepares them for a visceral visual- and audio-experience composed of supercuts of scenes from selected films and television shows. In addition, an interactive library will allow visitors to browse information about buildings—and their architects—featured in the supercuts, as well as stories about how filmmakers transform Canadian cities into cinematic impostors.


Canada Pavilion concept
Canada Pavilion – concept image courtesy of T B A.

The Canada Council for the Arts is proud to support Impostor Cities presented by T B A + David Theodore for the 2020 Venice Biennale in Architecture. The exhibition seeks to understand why Canadian cities make such great stand ins for other cities in the world on film. Its bold and unique vision will transport us into an immersive and engaging experience that challenges our perception of architecture in Canadian cities.

Simon Brault, Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts

The team is very honoured to be given this opportunity to present Impostor Cities. We believe the exhibition presents a timely opportunity to repatriate our architecture and make people aware that the film-famous buildings and spaces that have subtly structured our collective cinematic consciousness, are actually Canadian. It is about our identity but also about looking at what makes this fascinating misreading of our architecture possible.

Thomas Balaban, TBA, Presenter

Exhibition diagram
Schematic exhibition diagram courtesy of T B A.
Canada pavilion interior
Canada Pavilion - interior view courtesy of T B A.

It will be fun to immerse visitors in the impostor experience. Looking at cities through movies and TV shows gives a playful new look at Canadian cities, allowing visitors to think about what makes Canadian architecture distinctly Canadian.

David Theodore, curator

About the Presenter and Curator

Impostor Cities will be presented by a collaborative team of educators, architects, critics, and designers under the umbrella of T B A + David Theodore. The project will be curated by Mr. Theodore. Montreal-based architecture and design studio TBA, spearheaded by Thomas Balaban and Jennifer Thorogood, will oversee the design and production of the exhibition. Sarah Mackenzie and Pawel Karwowski will be responsible for communications and the public face of the project. The core team will be complimented by a wide range of collaborators, with Alanna Thain, Mikaèle Fol and Nick Cabelli coordinating film curation and research, while artist and educator Randolph Jordan will curate the exhibition’s sound.


Thomas Balaban

Thomas Balaban

Project manager

Montréal, architect and founding partner at T B A, Associate professor, École d’architecture,Université de Montréal

Jennifer Thorogood

Jennifer Thorogood

Project designer

Montréal, architect and partner at   T B A


Sarah Mackenzie

Sarah Mackenzie

 Communications manager

Toronto, content strategist

Pawel Karwowski

Pawel Karwowski

 Graphic designer

Montréal, designer

2020 Short List

The Venice Biennale in Architecture is prestigious international platform that draws more than 350 000 visitors worldwide to engage in critical conversations about contemporary architecture.

  • 2018 Douglas Cardinal Inc., UNCEDED www.unceded.ca
  • 2016 Opsys, Extraction www.extraction.ca
  • 2014 Lateral Office, Arctic Adaptations: Nunavut at 15 www.arcticadaptations.ca
  • 2012 5468796 Architecture Inc, Migrating Landscape www.5468796.ca/#mlo
  • 2010 Philip Beesley Architect Inc., Hylozoic Ground www.philipbeesleyarchitect.com
  • 2008 Cambridge Galleries, 41° to 66°: Architecture in Canada – Region, Culture, Tectonics
  • 2006 Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, SweaterLodge
  • 2004 Saucier & Perrotte Architectes, Found Objects www.saucierperrotte.com
  • 2002 Inter Access: Electronic Media Arts Centre and Alphabet City, Next Memory City - Toronto: Venice - Michael Awad, Eve Egoyan and David Rokeby www.interaccess.org
  • 2000 Canadian Centre for Architecture, Melvin Charney’s UN DICTIONNAIRE...

Media contact

Ashley Tardif-Bennett

Communications Advisor

E-mail: Ashley.Tardif-Bennett@canadacouncil.ca

Cell: 343-998-2625

For more information 

Pao Quang Yeh

Program Officer, Arts Across Canada | Arts Abroad

E-mail: paoquang.yeh@canadacouncil.ca

613-566-4414, ext. 5094

Toll free: 1-800-263-5533, ext. 5094

TTY: 1-866-585-5559

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