National Pavilion UAE’s Aridly Abundant at La Biennale di Venezia comes to a close

calendar-iconTuesday, 28 November, 2023

28 November 2023, United Arab Emirates: The National Pavilion UAE closes its fifth participation at the Biennale Architettura, Aridly Abundant, with great acclaim. Inaugurated in May 2023 by His Excellency Sheikh Salem bin Khalid Al Qassimi, the UAE’s Minister of Culture and Youth, Aridly Abundant saw 56,661 visitors explore the exhibition curated by Faysal Tabbarah, Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Architecture at the American University of Sharjah (AUS).

Aridly Abundant considered how arid environments can be spaces of abundance by exploring architectural possibilities within arid landscapes in the UAE’s desert plateau, wadis, and coastal plains within Al Hajar Mountain range and its environment.

Laila Binbrek, Director, National Pavilion UAE – La Biennale di Venezia said, “The National Pavilion UAE’s exhibition sparked conversations around land practices and knowledge from the UAE and the adaptability and possibilities they can present when combined with modern technologies. Aridly Abundant’s exploration of marrying these ancient practices with modern tools, put forward knowledge from the UAE that is available to all, to be built on and adopted in regions facing similar arid conditions as a result of climate change. I would like to take a moment to thank the American University of Sharjah and its College of Architecture, Art and Design for their support. The National Pavilion UAE prides itself in its collaborations with educational institutions as part of our ongoing commitment to support the next generation of cultural practitioners, curators and scholars, and sustain studies and research from the UAE.”

“As the 2023 exhibition comes to a close, we are working on the preparations for next year’s exciting exhibition at the Biennale Arte 2024, which will present work by Emirati conceptual artist Abdullah Al Saadi, in an exhibition curated by Tarek Abou El Fetouh,” continued Binbrek.

Faysal Tabbarah, Curator of the National Pavilion UAE’s exhibition at the 2023 International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia commented, “To see the research presented through Aridly Abundant embraced by an audience eager for a future where arid landscapes are conceived as having potential promising. As the exhibition comes to an end, we hope we managed to leave audiences with themes and lessons that other places around the world facing the threat of aridity and desertification can find of use. Finally, it is important to understand that this is a chapter within the research, and the lessons learned in this chapter will be applied to future iterations of the project and research.”

Focusing on the relationship between architecture and arid landscapes, the exhibition challenged the perception of arid environments as spaces of scarcity by uncovering ongoing arid land-based practices that rethink mainstream material practices, while foregrounding aridity within architectural production and discourse provokes a future built in, with and for aridity.

The 2023 exhibition’s accompanying publication, “In Plain Sight: Scenes from Aridly Abundant Landscapes”, co-edited by Faysal Tabbarah and Meitha Almazrooei, advocates for arid practices that propose a new vantage point of looking at aridity as a dynamic condition which can be a state of mind, a practice, or a shared identity. Conceived as a travelogue, the publication is a reference to travel and expedition literature which has historically portrayed arid environments in a homogenous manner as spaces devoid of life. The contributors challenge this narrative by introducing nuance and concepts of abundance to construct multiple lenses to view, sense, and capture the multitudes contained within aridity. In addition to research by the curatorial team, the publication also includes photographs taken by Reem Falaknaz during her exploration as well as scientific essays, travel stories, fiction, and poetry contributed by academics, architects, artists, geographers, and researchers based in the region. Published by Kaph Books, the book is available for purchase through Amazon and is retailing for 144.29 AED.

Faysal Tabbarah, who was chosen as curator through an open call by the National Pavilion UAE, was able to produce the exhibition and accompanying publication with the support of his curatorial research team. The team included American University of Sharjah (AUS) alumni, alongside interns from National Pavilion UAE’s 2023 Venice Internship Program, who supported Tabbarah in the curatorial research and design.

Aridly Abundant marks the National pavilion UAE’s fifth participation at the International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. For those who would like to see the exhibition, a virtual tour remains available on the National Pavilion UAE website, nationalpavilionuae.org.

The National Pavilion UAE is commissioned by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation and supported by the Ministry of Culture and Youth, with a permanent pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia’s Arsenale – Sale d’Armi.

For more information on the participation of the UAE at La Biennale di Venezia, please visit nationalpavilionuae.org or follow the National Pavilion UAE on Facebook, Instagram, X (Twitter previously).