“Mahalla: Urban Rural Living” is the first participation of the Republic of Uzbekistan at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Open to the public from May 22 to November 21, 2021, at Quarta Tesa, Arsenale, the exhibition is curated by Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein, professors of architecture and design at ETH Zurich, and founding partners of Christ & Gantenbein.
Sharing Uzbekistan’s architectural heritage with the international community, the Uzbek pavilion curated by Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein will feature work by Spanish filmmaker Carlos Casas and Dutch photographer Bas Princen. Addressing “How will we live together?” the participation investigates an important aspect of cultural heritage that will be reproduced inside the Quarta Tesa: the mahalla, an ancient and contemporary form of “living together. This powerful cultural center and effective self-government body was historically built around family ties and the daily life of the community. Uzbekistan has currently over 10,000 mahallas in Uzbekistan, each with 150 to 2,000 inhabitants that are being replaced by new forms of housing, due to serious economic pressure, changing habits, and their lack of modern infrastructure, “even though they remain popular among people seeking an urban-rural lifestyle”.
“At a time when the ecosystem of the anonymous megacity is literally reaching its limits, the need for alternatives is greater than ever. Can the social organization of these neighborhoods and their various architectural formations as low-rise/ high-density structures offer urban society a sustainable and ecological model?” Christ and Christoph Gantenbein, together with Adjunct Curator and Head of Research Victoria Easton along with local advisors and students have investigated this cultural heritage. Drawing on this research, the exhibition offers a scientific investigation and an artistic statement that aims at a critical reading and a tentative exploration.
Mahalla is a social, cultural and urban phenomenon. It is not necessarily an answer to the question asked by Hashim Sarkis, but it could be a very rich and interesting hint and indication to where a global contemporary society could find a vision, information, inspiration. -- Emanuel Christ.
Exploring three different types of appropriation, the exhibition showcases in a 1:1 scale: a model of a mahalla house occupying the whole space of the Quarta Tesa; an invisible appropriation of the space with sounds from the mahallas transmitted through ambisonic technology recorded by Carlos Casas; and extracts of mahalla houses as fragments of spaces represented by photographs by Bas Princen. The conceptual frame of the installation is given by the temporary occupation of the Quarta Tesa space by a mahalla house from Tashkent. This reenacted object allows engagement with the scale, quality, and beauty of these domestic spaces. In addition, Bas Princen’s images show the invisible spatiality of the houses and interfere in a suggestive way as they depict details of some mahalla domestic spaces or streetscapes like slightly surreal appearances in this journey led by the experience of sound.
- Organization: Ministry of Culture of The Republic Of Uzbekistan
- Commissioner: Art and Culture Development Foundation under the Ministry Of Culture Of The Republic Of Uzbekistan
- Curators: Prof. Emanuel Christ and Prof. Christoph Gantenbein, Eth Zurich
- In Collaboration with: The State Committee Of The Republic Of Uzbekistan For Tourism Development; Ministry Of Foreign Affairs Of The Republic Of Uzbekistan; Embassy Of The Republic Of Uzbekistan In The Italian Republic
- Special Support: Saida Mirziyoyeva, Deputy Chairman Of The Board Of Trustees Of The Public Foundation For Support And Development Of National Mass Media
- Organizing Committee: Aziz Abdukhakimov, Deputy Prime Minister And Chairman Of The State Committee For Tourism Development; Bekhzod Musaev, Deputy Prime Minister For Social Development; Ozodbek Nazarbekov, Minister Of Culture Of The Republic Of Uzbekistan; Gayane Umerova, Executive Director Of Art And Culture Development Foundation Under The Ministry Of Culture Of The Republic Of Uzbekistan
- Adjunct Curator and Head Of Research: Victoria Easton, Eth Zurich
- Project & Research Development: Stefano Zeni, Eth Zurich
- Research Assistants: Giulio Galasso, Eth Zurich, Natalia Voroshilova
- Project Assistants Acdf: Madina Badalova, Alsu Akhmetzyanova, Dildora Yakubjanova, Jasur Asliev, Jamshid Alimkhanov; Art And Culture Development Foundation Under The Ministry Of Culture Of The Republic Of Uzbekistan
- Research Support: the Union Of Architects Of The Republic Of Uzbekistan; Tashkent Institute Of Architecture And Civil Engineering
- Associate Advisor: Saodat Ismailova, Cca Lab Curator
- Consultants To The Research: Boris Chukhovich, Prof. Abdumannop Ziyaev, Prof. Shukur Askarov, Gulnora Tangabaeva, Prof. Mukaram Nurmatova, Prof. Mavlyuda Yusupova, Alexey Ulko Graphic Design Francesca Pellicciari, Pupilla Grafik Digital Design Giacomo Scandolara, Giga Design Studio
- Student Collaboration: Risqiyev Muhiddin, Rinata Mansurova, Saida Turabekova, Juraeva Munis, Laziza Tulaganova, Anastasia Galimova, Valeriya Kim, Kumush Muxammadkarimzoda, Cca Lab Participants; Senga Grossmann, Nicolas König, Elisaveta Kriman, Eth Zurich
- Exhibition Installation: Weexhibit
- Communication & PR: May, Communication & Events
- Editorial Advisor: Denis Stolyarov