The Kuwait Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021 tackles notions of discovery, interpretation, and projection of the hinterland, contextualizing the nation’s imminent growth. The exhibition titled Space Wars and curated by curators Asaiel Al Saeed, Aseel AlYaqoub, Saphiya Abu Al-Maati, and Yousef Awaad brings the hinterland within the architectural discourse, highlighting the nation’s functional staging ground.
Responding to this year’s theme of “How will we live together?” the pavilion, commissioned by Zahra Ali Baba, initiates a conversation around the value embedded with the landscape, highlighting the role of the desert in the functioning of the city-state. As 2020 marked the 70th anniversary of the First Master Plan commission and the 30th anniversary of the Gulf War -known as The First Space War- Kuwait serves as a case study to explore “hinter-urban spaces that enable the state”.
As the radial city expands, curious about the future state of unoccupied landscapes that serve for resource extraction, agricultural cultivation, military installations, and cultural sedimentation, the curators investigate the inevitable spatial war. They ask, “How will these spaces continue to exist next to, between and amidst one another? Will their territories surrender to the metropolitan’s expansion campaign?”
The Pavilion showcases an expansive carpet designed by the curators and inspired by the interviews collected throughout the project leading to the Biennale. The object is an abstract interpretation of the narratives and maps that describe the hinterland. Step-stools and two benches made of steel found abandoned in the hinterland make the furniture of the exhibition. Accompanying these elements are a series of projections showcasing archival footage, satellite imagery and proposals for prospective sites that build a comprehensive narrative of the hinterland.
Working across disciplines of architecture, art, policy, and urbanism, the curators were chosen “in response to NCCAL’s interest in commissioning projects that engage with cultural expressions and archaeological histories embodied in the desert landscape”.
Commissioner: Zahra Ali Baba, Kuwait National Council for Culture Arts and Letters
Curators: Asaiel Al Saeed, Aseel AlYaqoub, Saphiya Abu Al-Maati and Yousef Awaad
Art Direction: TB.D Studio
Contributions and Collaborations: Abdullah AlGhunaim, Atlas of Places, Ayesha Kamal Khan, Aiysha Alsane, Babnimnim Design Studio, Dani Ploeger, David Green, Faysal Tabbarah, Formlessfinder, Jawad Altabtabai, LCLA Office, Abdulaziz AlJassim, Mohammed Alkouh, Maees Hadi, Nada Al Qallaf, Post Petroleum Society, Reem Alissa, Dana Alhasan, Samia Henni, Sara Alajmi, Sara Al-Ateeqi, Sijal Collective, Studio Toggle and The Open Workshop
Project Coordinators: Jaber Al Qallaf and Alaa Baroun
Administrative Support: Kamel AlAbduljalil, Dr. Tahani Al-Adwani, Dr. Sultan AlDuweish and Rashed AlAjmi
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