Alumna curates the Kuwait Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Axonometric Drawing KNM

Alia Farid curates the exhibition Acquiring Modernity in the Kuwait pavilion at the 14th Venice International Architecture Biennale

Laura Anca Chichisan | Program in Art, Culture and Technology


Commissioned by the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters, Kuwait’s pavilion at the 14th Venice International Architecture Biennale is curated by Alia Farid, a graduate of the MIT Visual Arts Program, the precursor of the Program in Art, Culture and Technology.

Kuwait’s pavilion is part of Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014, one of the three interlocking exhibitions at this year’s Architecture biennale, and is titled Acquiring Modernity. Biennale curator Rem Koolhaas writes that Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014 will show “the process of the erasure of national characteristics in favor of the almost universal adoption of a single modern language and a single repertoire of typologies.”


Acquiring Modernity

Part of a larger project focused on reviving cultural involvement, Kuwait’s pavilion looks at the effects of modernity on the country’s culture, architecture, and history. Acquiring Modernity investigates “the arrival of modernity in Kuwait through a number of buildings and projects commissioned by the state as ‘modern status symbols,’ particularly the Kuwait National Museum,” said Farid. Throughout the twentieth century, Kuwait’s museums collected not only artifacts of the past, but those of the present as well, in a sense anticipating a widespread modernization. Clothing, furniture, and games were displayed alongside objects that were no longer in use. Farid continues, “The investigation will also analyze the current conditions of these buildings towards understanding the impact of modernity on local culture — whether modernist ideals were assimilated, altered, neglected, rejected — and what those reactions convey about contemporary society in Kuwait.” A bi-lingual research publication, a film set (to be released in November 2014), and a joint installation with the Nordic Pavilion, will accompany the Kuwait installation.


Aqcuiring Modernity_Kuwait Pavilion from youraok on Vimeo.


Acquiring Modernity was commissioned by Zahra Ali Baba, curator of Kuwait’s pavilion at the 13th Venice International Architecture exhibition. The architects, artists, and researchers representing Kuwait this year are: Aisha Alsager, Dana Aljouder, Sara Saragoça Soares, Hassan Hayat, Nesef Al Nesef, Noora Al Musallam, Amara Abdal Figueroa, Gráinne Hebeler, Abdullah Al Harmi, Samer Mohammed, Nima Algooneh, Liane Al-Ghusain, Adel Al-Qattan, Wafa’a Al-Fraheen, Dalal Al-Sane, Noura Alsager, Maysaa Almumin, Cherihan Nasr, Fatema Alqabandi, Alaa Alawadhi, and Ghazi Al-Mulaifi. The pavilion will also feature collaborations with filmmakers Shakir Abal and Oscar Boyson, graphic design duo Dexter Sinister, and artist Abdullah Al-Awadhi. The exhibition is on view June 7 through November 23, 2014 in the Arsenale, one of the five venues of the biennale.


About Alia Farid

Alia Farid is a Kuwaiti-Puerto Rican artist who uses art and education to activate culture, critical thinking, and engagement. Farid graduated from MIT in 2008 with a Master of Science in Visual Studies. Her thesis, Diasporic Tactics, addressed the connections and analogies between artists and immigrants and described the intricate human processes involved with immigration, adaptation, and transformation.


ACT and the Venice Biennale 

This year’s architecture biennale is titled Fundamentals and in addition to Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014, the show is comprised of two other exhibitions Monditalia and Elements of Architecture. Among the projects featured in Elements of Architecture is Senseable City Lab’s Local Warming, a thesis project by ACT 2014 graduate Leigh Christie. Read more about Local Warming. In 2015, Joan Jonas, ACT Professor Emerita and pioneering figure in performance art and video, will be representing the US at the Venice International Art Biennale. Find out more…

With a history that spans over one hundred years, the Venice Biennale is one of the largest contemporary art and architecture exhibitions in the world. The Venice Biennale in Architecture debuted in 1980 under the direction of Paolo Portoghes and alternates every two years with the acclaimed art exhibition.