Six Arab Countries to be Represented at Venice Biennale

And this is what their pavilions will be like

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Spearheaded by Lebanese curator Hashim Sarkis, this year’s edition of the Venice Biennale is more Arab than ever. 

Entitled How Will We Live Together, the show will mark a pivotal point for the annual exhibition. This year’s edition will not only have six participating Arab countries, it will also have an equal number of participating of men and women, including an increase in representation from Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

The 17th International Architecture exhibition announced its 63 national participations. This year Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE will make a return, and newcomer, Iraq, will also join them. 

Curated by Mostafa Rabea Abdelbased, Mohamad Riad Alhalaby and Ahmed Essam, Egypt’s theme for its pavilion is ‘The Blessed Fragments’, which is said to highlight Egypt’s diversity in a bid to push for unity. 

Kuwait’s exhibition will be titled ‘Space Wars’ and is curated by Asaiel Al Saeed alongside Aseel AlYaqoub, Saphiya Abu Al-Maati, and Yousef Awaad. Their response to the theme of ‘How will we live together’, which falls on the 30th anniversary of the Gulf War (known as The First Space War), will explore the concept of hinterland. 

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The Gulf War of 1991 saw “smart weapons” play a key role in ensuring victory. Missiles could now navigate effectively to their targets with the aid of GPS technology. They carried cameras which recorded live as they approached their targets, which earned the Gulf War the nickname “Video Game War” . كان للأسلحة الذكية دور مهم في حرب الخليج، حيث سمحت للصواريخ حينها بالوصول بفاعلية إلى هدفها مستخدمة نظام تحديد المواقع الذي يعرف بال“جي بي اس”. كانت الصورايخ تحمل كاميرات تقوم بالبث المباشر حين اقترابها من الهدف، وبذلك كسبت حرب الخليج لقب Video Game War . #biennalearchitettura2020 #spacewars #kuwait #kuwaitpavilion #architecture #labiennale #labiennaledivenezia #venicebiennale

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Curated by Hala Warde, Lebanon’s pavilion carries a theme of ‘A Roof for Silence’. For the exhibition, Warde, who is the founder of architecture firm HW architecture, will tackle questions revolving living together. 

The Saudi Arabian pavilion will be curated by Basmah Kaki alongside Hessa Al Bade and Hussam Dakkak, and will explore the theme of ‘Degrees of Belonging’. As for the UAE, architects Wael Al-Awar and Kenichi Teramoto from design firm Ibda were appointed as curators. Their exhibition will explore sea salt and how it can be used as a sustainable, locally sourced building material. 

Iraq’s pavilion will be curated by Safina Projects and Edge of Arabia with a theme of ‘Ark Re-imagined: the Expeditionary Pavilion’. 

Alongside the Arab pavilions, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum will be putting a spotlight on Muslim communities in the UK, with a special exhibition entitled ‘British Mosques’. The exhibition will be held in partnership with author and architect Shahed Saleem, the founder and director of Makespace.

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