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“Between East and West: a Gulf”: Inside Kuwait’s Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Biennale

March-12-2017





As part of ArchDaily’s coverage of the 2016 Venice Biennale, we are presenting a series of articles written by the curators of the exhibitions and installations on show.
Commissioned by the Kuwaiti National Council of Culture Arts and Letters (NCCAL), Between East and West: A Gulf (BEWAG) began as series of questions – an exploration of points and territories that asks how the architect can imagine a scale beyond the national. The investigation of the hydrography of the Arabian/Persian Gulf and its islands reveals a realm forgotten between two coasts. Acting now as the liquid boundary between nations, the Gulf and its islands are the territories in which the identities of the coasts were initially formed. Prior to the discovery of oil, its waters were the source of livelihood for the region which was connected through trade, cultural exchange and commerce. The shallow body of water and the low sandbars that form its islands, create a shifting network of isolated and interconnected nodes. The Gulf island was inextricably linked to the movement of people and resources,yet of a scale and possible containment that allowed it to be planned and experimented upon throughout history. This meant that the island was the smallest plannable political and ecological space in the region.