Otherness, Venice Biennale 2016

Between North and South, Otherness

Temporal Statelessness
The Project, shared between two islands, spans the extremities of the Gulf. Imprinted planometrically in the grounds of Failaka, akin to its archeological ruins, and carved sectionally from the fjords around Maqlab, the Project suspends its program from site specificity to claim temporal sitelessness; it operates across anomalies in pursuit of dismantling preset gulfs and unmasking otherness.
Programmatically, the Project hosts a library and a museum to give two different readings of the region on and of the same with simultaneity and juxtaposition; part permanent part temporal, part site specific part siteless, the Project becomes a counter-site to the mainland(s); “a floating piece of space, a place without a place, that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea… the greatest reserve of the imagination.”1
The library’s main objective is to catalogue the customs and traditions of the people of the region, trespassing delineations of ‘nation states’. The colonially drawn borders erase many other iterations of geographic, cultural, ethnic, and linguistic classifications, leading to suppressions of multiple expressions that undermine divisive narratives. The library surfaces repressed desires, allowing all taxonomies to be vocalized in an open catalogue underground and a closed one archived remotely in the fjords.
The museum, curated and formed by a trip that never was, traverses programmatically across the extremities of the Gulf, between the islands of Failaka and Maqlab, spanning a history of more than 6000 years. Failaka, being on the lookout inland at the tip of the Tigris and Euphrates, where Mesopotamia spanned back to 5000BC, and Maqlab, being at the other tip of the bend, where the British Empire had a telegraphic repeater station until mid 19th Century, tying its Empire from the Gulf to India. Enroute, it is criss-crossed laterally at two points to extend the museum’s internal program to external localized archeologies, rendering its placelessness site specific at times. The museum of civilizations spans from archeological findings to post-colonial readings.

1 Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias, Michel Foucault.



Principal Architect
Naji Moujaes

Habib Bitar
Yousef Nizami
Alaa Sheet
Raymund Yadao
Habib Bitar
Yousef Nizami
Alaa Sheet
Raymund Yadao