The Venice Biennale Architettura 2021 finally opened its doors to the public on Saturday, 22 May, after having been delayed twice due to the pandemic. But what is breathtaking is that this year's theme How will we live together? was chosen by Lebanese-born curator Hashim Sarkis long before our Covid-19 emergency began. Just one more example that the arts are always reading the signals in the wind, long before politicians and humankind in general. Look to art, film, music and fashion and you'll find a hint of where the world will be in two years from now.
The Biennale's International Exhibition includes 112 participants in competition from 46 countries, with a growing delegation from Africa, Latin America and Asia and with a wide female representation.
The National Pavilion of Saudi Arabia has participated in the Venice Biennale since 2011, with art and architecture displays. This year's exhibition is titled Accommodations and reflects on this year’s theme of How Will We Live Together? through the lens of quarantine, both current and historical. In fact, Accommodations is presented as an experiential exhibition rooted in archival research.
The architects selected to represent the Kingdom are Hussam Dakkak, Basmah Kaki and Hessa AlBader. With their practice spanning from Jeddah, to London and Kuwait City, the trio represent a new generation of creatives coming of age during the country’s cultural transformation. They have worked alongside Brooklyn-based curators Uzma Z. Rizvi and Murtaza Vali to form a dream team of architectural vision.
The exhibit itself is divided in three parts, several spaces within a space. Through the evolution of enclosures as they respond to external contexts they examine how these redefine the relationship between the individual, the community and the other. Curators Ritzi and Vali explained that, “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.”
The Venice Architecture Biennale runs through Sunday, 21 November 2021. For more information on the Saudi Pavilion check out their website.