Another exhibition in the 2014 Venice Biennale that succesfully builds itself (very literally) around a publication, is the Kingdom of Bahrain’s entry “Fundamentalists and other Arab Modernisms.”
Tall shelves, filled with copies of a freely available book of essays on modern Arab architecture with a selection of 100 buildings, form a classical-echoing library space. A mapping of the modern pan-Arab cultural world is laid out in the center, with chairs and listening stations. However, the most effective part of the Bahrain pavilion is the space itself. Essentially, this book-made rotunda serves as a reminder of the many modern-to-be cultural building types and national projects, and how classicism has often been used to elevate knowledge and the superiority of certain knowledge sets in a position of man over nature, and some cultures over others. From an era when books were expensive and rare, and libraries possessed the accumulated power and history of nations, we are now in a time where creating and distributing books and publications is rapidly evolving. And with all of these developments, one could ask, what if also the grand spatial types would get built in territories where they haven’t existed before? Essentially, this is what the Bahrain pavilion does, and even in its temporary form, is a shrine for contemporary cultural production in the Arab world. And through the book, the speculation of the typology will be distributed further.
Curators: George Arbid, Bernard Khoury, Arab Center for Architecture
Exhibition design: Bernard Khoury/ DW5
Catalogue Graphic Design: Jonathan Hares
The Kuwait exhibition “Acquiring Modernity” in the 2014 Biennale di Venezia.
Symbolic urban visions of William T. Horton. From A Book of Images 1898.
What do you do in a breathtakingly beautiful historical Southern Italian coastal city when you’re young and bored. The same stuff you do in the grey suburbia.
Research and Practice in the Urbanity.
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