Faysal Tabbarah, of the American University of Sharjah, to curate the National Pavilion UAE exhibition for the 18th International Architecture Exhibition 2023, La Biennale di Venezia

calendar-iconWednesday, 28 September, 2022

28 September 2022, Abu Dhabi, UAE: National Pavilion UAE announces the appointment of Faysal Tabbarah, Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Architecture at the American University of Sharjah, as curator for the UAE’s upcoming participation in the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia in 2023. The selected research proposal by Tabbarah aims to explore the relationship between architecture and arid, or dry, landscapes in the UAE and reimagine them as spaces of abundance and productivity.

Tabbarah was selected following the National Pavilion UAE’s open call which invited designers, architects and thinkers based in the UAE and around the world, to develop proposals for the 2023 architecture exhibition. The applicants were tasked with exploring an intriguing aspect of the UAE’s architecture or built environment that contributes to the discourse around architectural practice locally, regionally, and internationally.

Research findings by Tabbarah, to be exhibited in Venice and supplemented with an accompanying publication, aim to respond to the 2023 Biennale Architettura 2023’s theme “The Laboratory of the Future”, which is being curated by Ghanaian-Scottish architect, academic, educator and best-selling novelist, Lesley Lokko.

“My approach will rely on integrating technology with land-based materials practices and knowledge found in arid landscapes in the UAE,” said curator Faysal Tabbarah, Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Architecture at the American University of Sharjah. “I am honored to have been selected as the curator for the National Pavilion UAE, and I’d like to thank the Commissioner, the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation for this opportunity to expand on research that is becoming increasingly crucial to the architectural discourse globally. Aridity is a fast-approaching future condition for many regions, and through this exhibition, we’ll explore their potential as spaces of abundance and productivity.”

This exhibition will mark Tabbarah’s first participation as a curator of a national pavilion at the International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, and his second participation in the Architecture Biennale as a whole, as he has previously collaborated with the Kuwait Pavilion’s curators in 2021 for their presentation at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition, titled Space Wars.

Her Excellency Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth said: “We are happy to offer the support of the Ministry of Culture and Youth to this year’s curator. The ministry leads the cultural and creative sector in the UAE, and works to strengthen the UAE’s position on the global creative map. Tabbarah’s project will certainly contribute to the development of a thriving architecture scene in the UAE. At the ministry, we believe in empowering our creatives for them to contribute to the country’s holistic and sustainable development.”

Angela Migally, Executive Director at the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, said: “The Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation is proud to continue its long-standing commitment and support to the UAE’s creative and cultural ecosystem. Over the years, the National Pavilion UAE has been delivering substantial work in its mission of showcasing the best of the UAE’s art and architecture practices through sharing curated stories at one of the most important global stages in the world, La Biennale di Venezia. The Pavilion has been a platform for thought-provoking research and exhibitions, and we look forward to exploring the outcome of Tabbarah’s project, that addresses timely real-life challenges we see echoed around the world today, which are further exacerbated by the effects of climate change.”

Laila Binbrek, Coordinating Director, National Pavilion UAE, said: “This year, we invite the world to discover another thought-provoking story from the UAE curated by Faysal Tabbarah that will add new resources to the UAE’s architectural discourse. In supporting Tabbarah and his research we hope that the UAE will be able to provoke conversation with other communities around the world facing similar conditions of aridity, and possibly together find tools to make better futures. The team and I are incredibly proud of the role National Pavilion UAE is playing in contributing to the country’s cultural and creative development since 2009, and we are committed to delivering on our mandate of telling the UAE’s untold stories for years to come.”

Alongside his role in academia, Tabbarah is also the co-founder of Architecture + Other Things (A+OT), an experimental architecture and design studio based in Sharjah, UAE. Tabbarah’s teaching, research and practice interrogate the relationships between regional environmental and architectural imaginaries, or how people bring their natural surroundings to bear on how they understand and shape their world, to develop alternative building practices that are rooted in their surrounding material and cultural environments.

The National Pavilion UAE will present its exhibition for the 18th International Architecture Exhibition, from 20 May to 26 November 2023 (pre-opening 18 and 19 May).

2023 will mark the UAE’s 12th exhibition at the Art and Architecture International Exhibitions organized by La Biennale di Venezia since 2009 and its 5th participation in the International Architecture Exhibition. The National Pavilion UAE won the Golden Lion award for the best National Participation in the 17th International Architecture Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia in 2021 for its exhibition Wetland. The UAE’s current exhibition at the 59th International Art Exhibition in 2022 (Biennale Arte 2022) is Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim: Between Sunrise and Sunset, curated by Maya Allison, which showcases a room-filling sculptural form made up of 128 abstract and organic elements by Emirati artist Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim. It will remain on show until 27 November 2022.

The National Pavilion UAE is commissioned by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation and supported by the Ministry of Culture and Youth and has a permanent pavilion at La Biennale Di Venezia’s Arsenale – Sale d’Armi. For more information on the participation of the UAE, please visit nationalpavilionuae.org or follow the National Pavilion UAE on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.