Bahrain National Pavilion for the Venice Biennale 2014

Herskhazeen had the opportunity to visit the Venice Biennale 2014, what stood out the most between all exhibitors was the Bahrain National Pavilion co-curated by Bernard Khoury, the Arab Center for Architecture and Noura al Sayeh. Conceptually; the work is comprehensible through the space design, the props and speakers used inside it.

The space itself is shaped by 40,000copies of a book entitled “Architecture form the Arab World, 1914-2014 (a selection)” that curators George Arbid and Bernard Khoury used to document a selection of one hundred architectural buildings from the Arab World in the last 100 years. The book lines the circular shelves of the Bahraini pavilion in the Arsenale and guests can leave with their copy of the book.

The Bahraini pavilion set an ambitious goal of creating an index of architecture for the entire Arab world, to reflect on pan-Arabic heritage at a time when the whole region is going through major changes. Source

Below are pictures of the project and text from the architect

VBIENNALE_DOMUS WEB 001_Photo by Andrea Avezzù© DOMUS WEB – Photo by Andrea Avezzù

VBIENNALE_DSL 001© DW5 BERNARD KHOURY – Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani

VBIENNALE_DSL 002© DW5 BERNARD KHOURY – Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani

VBIENNALE_DSL 003© DW5 BERNARD KHOURY – Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani

 

Here’s what the Architenct said about the work:

Fundamentalists and Other Arab Modernisms

At a moment when the Arab world is in turmoil, it seems relevant to assess what remains of the pan-Arab project; a transnational political and cultural project, born in the early 20th century, coinciding with the birth of modernism in the region.

The seeds of that modernist project arrived mostly from the European colonial powers. These attempts at modernity started materializing with the early development of the young nation-states. It is important to note that the nation-state, and thus the notion of nationalism, arose in the region mainly as a consequence of colonialism.

But soon enough, the ideological bases of the national projects were losing their dynamic, giving way to other forms of economical and socio-political ideologies. This happened to coincide with the exhaustion of the modernist project in the Arab world, voiding it out from its initial agenda and bringing forward ostentatious images of a blindly imported and sometimes baseless modernity.

The exhibition is conceived as a subjective, non-exhaustive reading of the architectural legacy of the last 100 years across the Arab World paralleled with a brief overview of selected socio-political events that took place during that period. It includes the documentation of a hundred buildings, laid out flat without any pretention of qualitative architectural judgment. While some of the featured specimens can be perceived as inspiring applications of the modernist principles, this selection can be considered symptomatic of the tendency to embrace modernism as a trend rather than a project.

Bernard Khoury

 

VBIENNALE_DSL 006© DW5 BERNARD KHOURY – Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani

VBIENNALE_DSL 007© DW5 BERNARD KHOURY – Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani

VBIENNALE_DSL 008© DW5 BERNARD KHOURY – Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani

VBIENNALE_DSL 009© DW5 BERNARD KHOURY – Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani

VBIENNALE_DSL 010© DW5 BERNARD KHOURY – Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani

VBIENNALE_DSL 011© DW5 BERNARD KHOURY – Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani

VBIENNALE_DSL 012© DW5 BERNARD KHOURY – Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani

VBIENNALE_DSL 013© DW5 BERNARD KHOURY – Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani

VBIENNALE_EUROPACONCORSI 001_Photo by Sergio Grazia© EUROPA CONCORSI – Photo by Sergio Grazia

 

Kingdom of BAHRAIN
Fundamentalists and Other Arab Modernisms
Commissioner: H.E. Sh. Mai Al Khalifa, Minister of culture – Kingdom of Bahrain
Deputy Commissioner: Noura Al Sayeh.
Curators: George Arbid, Bernard Khoury.
Exhibition Design: Bernard Khoury/DW5
Local Architect: Francesco Librizzi Studio
Film Production and Map Graphics: Studio Safar
Executive director assistance: Chanel Seguin and Eric Dunateau
Venue: Pavilion at the Arsenale

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