It’s official: Christoph Büchel’s Venice Biennale mosque is closed to the public

Venetian authorities say the number of visitors is a safety risk


Visitors to a temporary mosque set up by the Swiss artist Christoph Büchel in a deconsecrated church in Venice were turned away today, Friday 22 May.

The mosque, Iceland’s official contribution to the Venice Biennale, has been shut down just two weeks after opening and a notice from the local council has been posted on the door. The project’s organisers now have 60 days to lodge an appeal with the supervisory court for the Veneto Region.

The reason given for the closure is a breach of health and safety regulations: the number of visitors has exceeded the capacity of the building on a number of occasions, city officials say.

They also say they had not granted permission for a working mosque in the former church of Santa Maria della Misercordia in Cannareggio, but issued permits only for the installation of an art exhibition.

The temporary mosque, which contained all the elements required for an authentic house of worship, was supposed to stay open for the entire seven-month run of the Biennale.