Aridly Abundant, National Pavilion UAE’s fifth exhibition at the Biennale Architettura 2023

His Excellency Sheikh Salem Al Qassimi inaugurates Aridly Abundant, National Pavilion UAE’s fifth exhibition at the Biennale Architettura 2023

The inauguration of the exhibition ‘Aridly Abundant’ at the National Pavilion UAE during the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia was officiated by His Excellency Sheikh Salem Al Qassimi, the UAE’s Minister of Culture and Youth. The exhibition, curated by Faysal Tabbarah, seeks to challenge the perception of arid landscapes as devoid of value by reimagining them as abundant sources of knowledge and resources. By integrating land-based architectural practices in the UAE with contemporary technology, the exhibition explores the potential of stone construction as a sustainable and adaptable form of architecture, particularly in the face of climate change. Through techniques like 3D scanning and printing, the exhibition presents alternative building systems rooted in the cultural and material environment of the UAE.

2023. Aridly Abundant mage, Courtesy of National Pavilion UAE, La Biennale di Venezia. Photo by Kathleen Hoare of Seeing Things 1876

The inauguration was attended by distinguished guests, including His Excellency Sheikh Salem Al Qassimi, UAE Minister of Culture and Youth, His Excellency Sheikh Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, President of Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, Her Excellency Sheikha Bibi AlSabah, Chairperson of Kuwait Sadu Society, and Her Excellency Shatha Al Mulla, Assistant Undersecretary for the Arts and Heritage Sector, Ministry of Culture and Youth. Other notable attendees included His Excellency Saeed Kharbash, Chief Executive Officer of Arts & Literature Sector at Dubai Culture Authority, Dr. Mohammad Aljassar, Acting Secretary-General of Kuwait National Council for Culture, Arts, & Literature (NCCAL), Nasser Al Khaja, Head of Media and Public Diplomacy Section at the UAE Embassy in Italy, and Dr. Varrki Pallathucheril, Dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Design at the American University of Sharjah. Angela Migally, Executive Director of the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, expressed pleasure in the National Pavilion UAE’s contribution to co-creating sustainable solutions and its impactful participation in global discourse.

Aridly Abundant,2023, Image Courtesy of National Pavilion UAE – La Biennale di Venezia. Photo by Ismail Noor of Seeing Things.

A central focus of ‘Aridly Abundant’ is to highlight the thriving ecosystems that have always existed in the UAE and its surrounding areas, supported by land-based practices developed by the inhabitants who understood and cherished the unique characteristics of the land. By bringing these practices to the forefront, the exhibition aims to address misconceptions about arid spaces and demonstrate their relevance in the face of escalating challenges associated with aridity globally. These practices have successfully sustained life in water-scarce environments and hold the potential for adaptation in other contexts, offering a way to alleviate the strain on natural resources and mitigate land degradation.

2023. Aridly Abundant image Courtesy of National Pavilion UAE, La Biennale di Venezia. Photo by Kathleen Hoare of Seeing Things 1856

The exhibition at the National Pavilion UAE immerses visitors in the ongoing qualities of aridly abundant landscapes, showcasing spatial, material, and tactile aspects. Stone assemblies serve as devices within the space, exhibiting various assembly tactics observed in the Al Hajar region, such as dry-stacking, tethering, and blurring. Accompanying these installations are audio/visual vignettes created by Reem Falaknaz, an artist commissioned for the exhibition. Her vignettes provide a sensory experience of the Al Hajar environment, capturing the essence of the landscape. The exhibition also features a large-scale drawing that depicts the landscape and material culture of Al Hajar, narrating eight stories about the observed tactics discovered during fieldwork. This drawing acts as a connector, highlighting the relationship between the stone assemblies in the exhibition space and Falaknaz’s audio/visual pieces. To emphasise the transferability of the UAE’s tactics, the assembly methods have been applied to discarded stone fragments from quarries in the Veneto region. The incorporation of technologies like 3D scanning and printing further enhances the design and assembly processes, presenting contemporary and culturally rooted alternatives for sustainable building systems.

H.E. Sheikh Salem Al Qassimi, Minister of Culture and Youth, said: “Our participation in this prestigious global platform is a reflection of our country’s cultural and social status and its rich artistic heritage. The works of UAE’s homegrown talent exhibited at the National Pavilion have contributed to the growth of the National Pavilion in the biennales over the past 12 years. The UAE’s talent has been adding much value to the Pavilion in recent years.”

H.E. added “It gives us pride that the National Pavilion of the United Arab Emirates has evolved to be regarded as a significant creative platform which has gained global recognition. We are delighted by the achievements of the National Pavilion, which reflect the creative scene in our country and demonstrate how art from the UAE is being noticed and appreciated by artists and culture bearers from around the world, acting as a bridge from the UAE to other cultures worldwide.”

Aridly Abundant,2023, Image Courtesy of National Pavilion UAE – La Biennale di Venezia. Photo by Ismail Noor of Seeing Things

 

Aridly Abundant, National Pavilion UAE’s fifth exhibition at the Biennale Architettura 2023

Location: Venice, Italy

Duration: May 20 – November 26, 2023

 

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