Uzbekistan to become a participant of the Venice Architecture Biennale
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) -- From 22 May to 21 November 2021, Venice will host a large-scale event in the world of architecture and art - the 17th International Architecture Biennale, where Uzbekistan will present its national project: "Mahalla: Urban and Provincial Life".
The National Pavilion of the Republic of Uzbekistan will be located at the intersection of Arsenal and Giardini, the main venues of the Biennale, and will border on the pavilion of the host country of Italy.
The Venice Biennale was established in 1895. Since 1980, the structure has changed its appearance; the first International Exhibition of Architecture was held as part of the Biennale. Today it is one of the most famous architectural forums, held every two years with the participation of an international jury. The Venice Architecture Biennale is a unique platform for solving urgent problems and for thinking about architecture and plans for the future. The theme for 2021 will be “How will we live together?”, Curated by Hashim Sarkis, an architect, dean of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Debutant country Uzbekistan will demonstrate its project "Mahalla: Urban and Provincial Life" for the first time. This platform can become a new opportunity for Uzbekistan to declare itself as a country open to innovation, cultural development, and readiness to solve emerging problems and discuss them in the international space.
The chairman of the organizing committee for the creation of the National Pavilion of the Republic of Uzbekistan and Deputy Prime Minister Aziz Abdukhakimov noted the importance of Uzbekistan’s participation in the event:
“The Biennale makes and can make an even greater contribution to the formation of a new professional community in our country. I see our participation as a historic event that will bring the image of Uzbekistan to a new level; attraction of a new public, cultural and scientific exchange. We will demonstrate Uzbekistan from a previously unknown perspective, with an emphasis on the specifics of our culture and traditions, on a rich history. Over time, we have formed our own identity that we want to show the world. Separately, I will emphasize the importance of preserving makhallas as a cultural heritage. All the work carried out will help preserve the data array, and this is an opportunity to convey to our children the history of the life of their ancestors. All these values will be reflected in the design of the National Pavilion”.
The concept of the exhibition "Mahalla: Urban and Provincial Life" tells about the structure of the community, which is not only found in Uzbekistan, but also shows the features of the Uzbek society. Mahallas take many different forms, depending on the region, tradition, climate, and historically they have been built around family ties. Here is what Gayane Umerova, executive director of the Art and Culture Development Foundation under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan, says about this:
“The essence of the exhibition should be as transparent as possible, focus on a specific topic, but at the same time we plan to make it short. In my opinion, the makhalla broadcasts very important aspects that may be of interest to the international community, including the scientific community, and it’s not only about architectural features, the makhalla is a whole social structure with a hereditary basis and this phenomenon must be preserved by all means”.
During the December 2019 negotiations with the Higher Technical School of Zurich, the Foundation decided to attract school professors Emmanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein as the main curators of the exhibition at the National Pavilion of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Just a month later, their visit to Uzbekistan took place. Emmanuel and Christophe visited the largest makhallas in Tashkent, Bukhara and Khiva and conducted 3D scanning of a number of residential buildings and structures.
Emmanuelle Crist said: “The term ‘mahalla’ means what we might call a district, it encompasses the idea of urban education in its social, political and architectural structure. This is a very traditional form of cohabitation in high density and low-rise buildings. We study how the appearance of the mahalla and its meaning has changed over the centuries. Mahalla is a phenomenon that occurs not only in Uzbekistan, but throughout Central Asia, but they are best preserved here, in Tashkent, and the collected material should be transferred to the international community. The portrait of the mahalla will be based on research using the latest technology and historical documents, and will be complemented by an artistic portrait.”
“It is a great honor for me to learn so much about Uzbekistan and share this heritage with the international community of the Venice Biennale of Architecture,” Christoph Gantenbein said.
Later the renowned photographer and artist Bas Prinzen joined the working group. He took pictures of streets and architectural buildings.
Bas Prinzen said: “The Venice Architecture Biennale provides a unique context for addressing current contemporary topics and reflections on the future of planning and architecture. This national participation, embedded in a vital and fruitful intellectual environment, aims to create new networks, explore other contexts and create new content. Through feedback from the international intellectual scene, Uzbekistan can learn new methods of reflection and benefit from cultural exchange.”
On the part of Uzbekistan, a professor of the TASI department, doctor of architecture Abdumannop Ziyaev, who provided rare fragments of maps of mahallas of past years, acted as a scientific consultant for the research. Professor Ziyaev noted:
“We are surprisingly lucky, because Tashkent is the only city in the Muslim East where its residential areas were filmed, so the project “Mahalla: Urban and Provincial Life ”will have a solid documentary foundation. Hardly any of the cities has preserved such an archive as Tashkent. "
Recreation of the sound of the mahalla deserves special attention. This extraordinary task fell on the shoulders of renowned Spanish artist and filmmaker Carlos Casas, whose practice spans cinema, sound and visual arts. His comments about the project:
“The Mahalla is an attempt to capture and document the everyday life of a traditional neighborhood using spatial sound. Sound has rarely been used to document the acoustic climate of urban and architectural environments, especially in older houses and traditional neighborhoods that are severely threatened by the urban and economic development of post-Soviet or Central Asian societies. It is very important to document and study this rich social environment in all its sonic dimensions. The project documents through sound the spatial qualities of the home environment, its variations over time and the sound ecology of the traditions that persist in the rich social life of endangered urban environments."
Participants of the research laboratory of the CCA Lab Center for Contemporary Art take an active part in the work, whose task is to develop contemporary art and cultural practices in Uzbekistan. They collect materials on site, conduct surveys of residents and recreate a portrait of mahallas of past years, while working on updating the maps.
Saodat Ismailova, artist and filmmaker, curator of CCA Lab: “The participation of the Laboratory at the Center for Contemporary Art, as a research group with the participation of young artists and architects of Uzbekistan, is a unique experience for the local artistic environment. The participants are involved in the process of creating the National Pavilion of Uzbekistan, working in close contact with the curators, at the moment the Laboratory is engaged in research in archives, as well as field work in the environment itself - in makhallas ”.
Mukhiddin Riskiev and Rinata Mansurova, participants of the CCA Lab: “For us, the makhalla is an important philosophical unit that needs to be understood as a social institution, especially considering the continuity of traditions, even in the form of buildings, organization of everyday life and external architecture. I am glad to be able to learn from the research experience. An incredible opportunity. "
The pavilion will be open to everyone from May to November 2021.