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The Kuwait Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Biennale Investigates the Role of the Hinterland

The Kuwait Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Biennale Investigates the Role of the Hinterland

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.

Physical residue left behind after camping season in Kuwait’s hinterland - photographed by Mohammed Alkouh . Image © Space WarsFragments of Glass. Image © LCLA OfficeConsequences of extreme heat produced by Kuwait Solar Company. Image © Babnimnim Design StudioSatellite image of camping remnants dotting the hinterland of Kuwait, 29°22'24.71"N 47°38'10.43"E - in collaboration with Atlas of Places . Image © Space Wars+ 17

Satellite image of camping remnants dotting the hinterland of Kuwait, 29°22'24.71"N 47°38'10.43"E - in collaboration with Atlas of Places . Image © Space Wars
Satellite image of camping remnants dotting the hinterland of Kuwait, 29°22'24.71"N 47°38'10.43"E - in collaboration with Atlas of Places . Image © Space Wars

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”.

A Space War Monument. Image © Dani Ploeger
A Space War Monument. Image © Dani Ploeger

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?”


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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.

Archaeology and Infrastructure Research Centre plan vignette. Image © Formlessfinder
Archaeology and Infrastructure Research Centre plan vignette. Image © Formlessfinder

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

We invite you to check out ArchDaily's comprehensive coverage of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021, and watch our official playlist on Youtube featuring exclusive interviews with architects and curators of the Biennale.

Courtesy of Asaiel Al Saeed, Aseel AlYaqoub, Saphiya Abu Al-Maati and Yousef Awaad
Courtesy of Asaiel Al Saeed, Aseel AlYaqoub, Saphiya Abu Al-Maati and Yousef Awaad

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Cite: Christele Harrouk. "The Kuwait Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Biennale Investigates the Role of the Hinterland" 25 May 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/934322/curators-announced-for-space-wars-the-kuwait-pavilion-at-the-venice-biennale-2020> ISSN 0719-8884

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