Titled "Accommodations", the Saudi Arabian Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, will analyze the spatial and social encounters of hosting and housing in Saudi Arabia, where histories, protocols, and gestures are intertwined. Curated by Hussam Dakkak, Basmah Kaki, and Hessa AlBader, alongside Brooklyn-based curators Uzma Z. Rizvi and Murtaza Vali, the exhibition will be on display from May 22nd to November 21st, 2021.
Architects Hussam Dakkak, Basmah Kaki, and Hessa AlBader of Studio Bound were selected to represent the Saudi Arabian Kingdom's second Biennale appearance, in collaboration with curators Uzma Z. Rizvi and Murtaza Vali. The architects' practice spans Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and Kuwait, representing a generation witnessing a creative shift and cultural transformation in the country. The pavilion will be explored through the lens of current and historic quarantines, inviting visitors for exploration, retrospection, and analysis.
The exhibition traces the history of enclosures, examining how the built environment and urban fabric adapts to accommodate emergency conditions and how the meaning and use of such spaces shift over time. Through the Saudi National Pavilion, we hope to inspire a greater understanding of the tensions between the acts of separation inherent in quarantine and the acts of accommodation required to continue living. -- Curators Uzma Z. Rizvi and Murtaza Vali
The three-part exhibition is characterized as several spaces within a space, inviting visitors to observe and analyze the intertwining relationship between inclusion and exclusion through imagery. Visitors will respond to how external contexts influence enclosed spaces, and derive new meanings from these situations, redefining the relationship between the individual as a single entity, the community as a whole, and the others, and stimulate a discussion about the architectural implications of this past year.
- Exhibitors: Hussam Dakkak, Basmah Kaki, and Hessa AlBader (Studio Bound)
- Curators: Murtaza Vali and Uzma Z. Rizvi
- Commissioner: Architecture and Design Commission and the Saudi Ministry of Culture
Studio Bound is a design and research practice founded in 2015 between London and the Gulf, by Basmah Kaki, Hessa AlBader, and Hussam Dakkak. Architect Basmah Kaki is a recipient of the RIBA Bronze Medal and the SOM Foundation UK Award, and is the director and tutor of the AA Visiting School: Makkah vs Makkah program. She is based in Jeddah and is working on a number of key cultural projects, such as leading heritage work in UNESCO sites in Al Balad in Jeddah and in Al Ula. Hessa AlBader collaborates on both design and research projects in London and in the Arabian Gulf. She is a co-director and tutor of the AA Visiting School: Makkah vs Makkah program with a work portfolio that ranges between curating and managing international design competitions, and construction projects. Hussam Dakkak Dakkak currently serves as a design and development lead for Rassmal and as a consultant on a number of cultural and architectural projects with PIF and the Royal Commission of Makkah. He has lectured at the London School of Economics, Harvard University, and the AA.
Murtaza Vali: A critic, curator, and art historian based between Sharjah and Brooklyn. He is the recipient of the 2011 Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant for Short-Form Writing, with contributions and critiques published in Artforum, Frieze, and Art Agenda. His research topics include materialist art histories, ex-centric minimalisms, ghosts, the weight of color, and contemporary art of the Indian Ocean littoral.
Uzma Z. Rizvi: An anthropological cultural archaeologist specialized in ancient urbanisms, epistemic critique, and critical heritage studies. She is the Associate Professor of Anthropology and Urban Studies at the Pratt Institute, New York, and is a Visiting Professor at Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur, Pakistan.