Venice Architecture Biennale: Calles and Sunwise Turns

The Wall That Can’t Be Moved. Asma (left) and Reem (right) having fun with the Fundamentals ‘Wall’ shirt purchased from La Biennale. Photo by Hayder Al Ansari
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As part of the series following the interns in the six-month programme for the National Pavilion of the UAE at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia, The Art Blog already featured diary entry blog posts from Reem Hantoush and Asma Bukhammas.

The girls spent one month in Venice and as well as immersing themselves in the culture, they took some wonderful photographs and also made a cool timelapse video. Now that they have returned, we asked them to reflect on their time.

Reem says:

The City of Venice has awe-inspired many historians, artists and architects in the past, and it did not fail to charm me as well. As I paced through the many different calles or streets, eating Grom's gelato, taking in the sights of the canals, the bridges, the façades, the history, the ancient and modern and contemporary existence that have passed through these calles, I started capturing moments in time.

Similarly, back at the National Pavilion of the UAE, I started recording and photographing the different moments of the construction stages. I was soon dubbed the unofficial CPP: Construction Process Photographer. As vital as it was to capture these moments, the internship experience proved to be more than that. I had the privilege to work with interdisciplinary team of professors, architects, contractors, managers, Italian interns and many more. Even though we faced some difficulties and challenging tasks, this experience revealed how surprisingly teamwork effort is imperative. Throughout the 30 days, I was captivated by what the people and the history of the city have to offer. I never thought that being part of the Venice Internship programme would reveal new horizons in my future career path, but it did.

On returning to UAE, I feel that this experience resonated with me. I’m not sure how to explain it, but it was partly magic - like being put under a spell of enchantment. And I’m so happy that I had the opportunity to live the magic of Venice and be part of this programme.

Asma says:

While working on one of my research investigations during the Venice Internship programme, I came across an interesting story about Peggy Guggenheim who was a patron, collector and key influencing figure on 20th century art. I learned that Peggy’s first job was a clerk at Sunwise Turn, an avant-garde bookstore in New York. Even though her daily tasks revolved around managing the cashier or writing cheques, this experience marked her first exposure to the forward-thinking artistic and intellectual scene of her generation. This seemingly humble job was the jumpstart to her life-long infatuation with and support for the artistic community.

In a lot of ways my experience with the internship was similar to that. I got the chance to rub shoulders with contractors from Venice, craftsman from Sicily, architects from Rome and interns from Padova; and each of them had something to teach. Not only that, through the research opportunities offered by the programme, I also got a chance to meet -albeit in spirit- inspirational figures like Cino Zucchi, Carlo Scarpa and Peggy Guggenheim. More importantly, I got an insight into the intellectual psyche of professionals from another part of the world who happen to do things a little differently than ourselves. This internship, therefore, became a field for exchanging ideas, getting rid of preconceptions and developing new outlooks. Perhaps in that sense, the internship becomes a ‘Sunwise Turn’ for those seeking an experience that will, at the very least, result in a newfound perspective.

* Follow the rest of the interns on @veniceinterns and #veniceinterns on instagram and twitter

** Video: time-lapse video of the construction of the pavilion, filmed and edited by Reem Hantoush