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06 June 2018 Arts & Culture, Fashion & Design & Magazine Praises and Sheds Lights on The Kingdom of Bahrain’s Pavilion at 5th Venice Biennale International Architecture Exhibition
Arts & Culture, Fashion & Design & Magazine Praises and Sheds Lights on The Kingdom of Bahrain’s Pavilion at 5th Venice Biennale International Architecture Exhibition

Bahrain’s pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale de Venezia- Arsenale, themed “ Friday Sermon”, inaugurated last May 2018, has garnered much praise and acclaim by world media corporations. The pavilion was highly praised by the London-based Arts & Culture magazine “ AnOther”, shedding light on Venice Architecture Biennale review” describing Bahrain’s pavilion as “few truly transportive moments in the hectic Arsenale”.

Indeed, the Kingdom of Bahrain is taking part, for the 5th time, at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale de Venezia- Arsenale 26th May- 25th November 2018. The pavilion features an installation and research on the ritual of the Friday Sermon and its influence on public space and public opinion. When thinking about free space, and by extension free speech for Arab and Muslim communities, the Friday khuṭbah becomes a key protagonist, especially as state, law, and religion remain as entangled as ever.

“ AnOther” magazine wrote “ Places of religious gathering also took centre stage. The Bahrain pavilion, curated by Nora Akawi and Noura Al Sayeh, charted how both cities and buildings have crystallised around Islamic places of worship and congregation, while also exploring these spaces’ current political and social functions. Entitled Friday Sermon, it was realised as a sound installation that mimicked the experience of attending a Friday khutbah in Bahrain and remained one of the few truly transportive moments in the hectic Arsenale” (where the exhibition is taking place).

The pavilion “ Friday Sermon” is designed by architect Noura Al-Sayeh, working at Bahrain Authority for Culture & Antiquities and Nora Akawi, an architect and researcher based in New York, USA and Amman, Jordan The exhibition is designed by Apparata Studio and consists of a large-scale structure that hosts a sound installation by Giuseppe Ielasi and Khyam Alami based on recordings of Friday Sermons in Bahrain as well as other installations and works by Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Matilde Cassani, Mezna Qato and Sadia Shirazi, Camille Zakharia.

The exhibition is designed by Apparata Studio and consists of a large-scale structure that hosts a sound installation by Giuseppe Ielasi and Khyam Alami based on recordings of Friday sermons in Bahrain. The installation defines a central void under which one can experience the sound installation and references the sacred space of the religious, while the periphery of the installation, hosts three different contributions, each exploring a different aspect of the Friday sermon Practices. The All Hearing, a video installation by artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan investigates the effects of “loudspeaker libertarianism” in Cairo and its consequences on hearing damage and noise pollution in the city. The installation by Matilde Cassani looks into the architecture of the minbar and its adaptation in the Italian context while Mezna Qato and Sadia Shirazi present 3 Scores & the People’s Mic Khutba, a book of scores responding to Muslim social life under siege and that reimagines different formats for the Friday sermon.

A collection of five different essays form the scientific content of the exhibition and offer a historical overview of the origins, history and evolutions of the practices of the Friday sermon, as well as its use for political purposes. The essays are accompanied by a portfolio of images by Camille Zakharia taken in Bahrain, as well as archival images of the rituals of the sermon from New York to Amman. The collection of essays and images will form the basis of the exhibition catalogue, readily available for consultation at the pavilion.

Centred around this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale’s main theme, ‘Freespace’, installations by architects from all corners of the world flooded the Arsenale and Main Pavilion at Giardini with food for thought. More than 60 countries are participating at the Biennale and presenting projects dealing with the main subjects or themes of the biennale. Worth to mention that this is the 5th Bahraini participation in Venice Biennale after, “Reclaim”, Bahrain's first participation at the 12th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2010, which was awarded the Golden Lion for best national participation. “Background”, Bahrain's second participation at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012, followed by Bahrain’s national pavilion at 14th Venice Architecture Biennale titled "Fundamentalists and Other Arab Modernisms"

 

 

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