x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Venice Architecture Biennale: Opening Thoughts

A self portrait of Reem Hantoush (Courtesy: Reem Hantoush)
A self portrait of Reem Hantoush (Courtesy: Reem Hantoush)

The Venice Architecture Biennale opens its doors to the public tomorrow and to mark that we continue our series of guest blogs from the interns who will be participating in a six-month rotation programme in the Italian city.

Each group spends one month in Venice where they will live and work acting as custodians and docents of the National Pavilion throughout the duration of the exhibition Lest We Forget: Structures of Memory in the UAE at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia. A group of 19 Emiratis and long-term residents of the UAE were selected for the programme in addition to eight Italian interns from the prestigious Ca’Foscari University in Venice, whom will be partnering with the Emiratis for cultural and language exchange.

This week we asked Reem Hantoush to send us her thoughts:

Venice to me is like an unrevealed story, a place filled with intricate alleys and years of historical traditions. Our daily walks have raised various questions, why do the walls sway and bend? Why do some of the doors in Venice appear to be shorter? I was, therefore, very excited to get a chance to walk within the city with a practicing architect, Lorenzo Pesola, who revealed to us some of the mystery of the Venetian structures. Apparently, throughout the years, the water level started to rise subsequently lifting the street level. To counter that, Venetians sometimes opted to cut-off the bottom of their entrance door, causing it to look much smaller than the human scale. In Venice, things not always as what appear. I have contemplated this observation since the moment we landed in Venice. It truly is a divine and ancient beauty.

Meanwhile in the pavilion, the UAE National team is exhilarated to be able to see the conceptual ideas of the curatorial team come to life in the built pavilion. We have witnessed the UAE Pavilion going through its restoration phase and the construction phase of the exhibition area from an uninhabited rundown site to a soon to be filled space. As the days passed by, I started to record a time-lapse of the construction phase of the pavilion from the ground up. This was a way for me to process the evolution of the pavilion over the past few weeks. I must say, knowing that the pavilion will shortly come together in just a few days is just a grand phenomenon.

Similarly, there is notable surge of energy at other pavilions in the Arsenale. With only a few days left to the opening of ‘La Biennale di Venezia’ we receive 4,000 catalogues and suddenly it all feels real. The pavilion is nearly done; and with the curatorial team here, the content of the exhibition is finally coming to life.

* Reem Hantoush is an Emirati Architectural Engineer graduate from the University of Sharjah. She is an aspiring photographer and currently working as a freelance designer. Follow her adventures in Venice by following @veniceinterns and #veniceinterns on instagram, as well as her personal account, instagram: @reemhantoush