Kethra

Kuwait’s National Participation in Venice Biennial of Architecture-2012. Co-curated with Zahra Ali Baba and Ricardo Camacho.

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Zahra Ali Baba is the author of this curatorial statement and the project is the outcome of a group research:

Kethra*

Between a constant demolition and erasure of the built environment, and an ongoing planning for the future of an ideal city state, an archive of aspirations, solutions and master plans keeps accumulating, leaving behind delayed possibilities, and a reluctant evaluation of the physical testimony of evolution.

Today, the inherited city is a result of the oil economy and strategies of wealth re-distribution, post war policies, temporary migrations, volatile politics and a disappearing past. Could this situation of an absent ideal lead to a new positive scenario, if the search is within the active social process rather than its symbolic representation of territory, and within affinities rather than official histories?

The development board was established in 1951 and commissioned the British Firm Minoporio, Spencely and Macfarlane to develop a physical plan for Kuwait Town. Ever since, the modern project was born and an immediate consequence of this decision was displacing an entire population beyond the city walls, into the new vacant suburbs.

This process rapidly decomposed many cultural habits and challenged lifestyles associated with the local physical membrane. As the city continues to lose its architectural process, the tendency to gather proves to be a resilient trace of the survival strategy from pre-oil settlements, and a sacred culture extending in influence to the current urban clustering of Kuwait's diverse migrant communities.

Due to the increase in density by the welfare system, and in response to the natural tendency to gather, these Biosocial codes formed a type of space that shaped the nation and affected the transition into the current civic and political system.

Diwaniya, a male gathering space, and a local form of social institutions are registers of a critical condition between abundance and overflow, where information gathering and distribution produce a form of knowledge and a 'common sense', acting as a platform for cultural and mental landscapes that are evident in the manner and the matter of dialogues that signify membership of a cluster.

Kethra  is a map of a potential proximity, accessibility and boundaries affecting the scenarios of rapid change and shaping relational identities. The expansive void is hosting ritualistic behaviors, appropriating the altitude by a ring of collected oral fields, and a ground emerging from the archive, the register of a gathering of international architecture and planning forces, in speculating on affluence and prosperity.

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*Propagation and growth of quantity, it is abundance and a multiplicity, the antithesis of scarcity or lack. kathar as an active verb means to make more of something, and alkathar as a noun means the majority of a certain thing.

alkethra an abundance of good and blessings.

alkawthar the benevolent overflow of God's blessings to His People on the Day of Resurrection. alkawther as well, is a river in Paradise from which all the other rivers flow, whiter than buttermilk and sweeter than honey, with banks of hollow pearl domes.

Source : Lisan Al-Arab Lexicon, Assembled by Ibn Manthour.

Thus, re-asserting the centrality of oral systems of knowledge production and the possibility of discovering new understandings

Public concerns recorded in gatherings and transmitted through speakers in the exhibition hall where on the ground governmental visions and master plans were showcased. Disclosing and exposing both inaccessible processes in search of a common ground. This project is a preface for an urban archive. (Photo taken by Faisal Alfouzan.)

Public concerns recorded in gatherings and transmitted through speakers in the exhibition hall where on the ground governmental visions and master plans were showcased. Disclosing and exposing both inaccessible processes in search of a common ground. This project is a preface for an urban archive. (Photo taken by Faisal Alfouzan.)