Venice Architecture Biennale: Through a fish-eye lens

The July interns along with the intern coordinator, on their first day of work. Courtesy: Maryam Alzaabi
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This week it is over to Maryam Alzaabi to continue our series following the interns in Venice. Alzaabi is part of a group of 19 Emiratis and long-term residents of the UAE who, over the course of the six-month exhibition Lest We Forget: Structures of Memory in the UAE at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia, are each spending one month living and working acting as custodians and docents of the National Pavilion of the UAE.

The interns are contributing to The Art Blog with a diary-style entry about their time in the Italian city on the water, which brings us an interesting insight into this important cultural exchange.

Here Maryam writes:

Six hours and thirty three minutes. Dubai International Airport to Venice Marco Polo Airport. Jitters of excitement and nerves kick in as we drag our suitcases from baggage claim and wander off to look for our intern coordinator. The cobbled streets of Venice are scraping against the wheels of our suitcases as we pull them up one bridge, and then another. We’re in Venice! While this is not my first time here, this city never fails to leave me speechless with its breathtaking scenery.

A week in, and I still cannot wrap my mind around everything that is beautifully held between the walls and alleyways of this place.

Often times, when walking in Venice and trying to get from point A to B, you end up in a cul-de-sac or a dead-end. Personally, I find gratification in hopping on whatever vaporetto I see and sitting at the front deck and going wherever it takes me. Getting lost in a city like Venice brings more pleasure than frustration to me, whether I end up in a central stop at P.I. Roma or a stop at Celestia, I’m more than willing and thrilled to see what each place has hiding around its corners.

Walking around constantly with my phone is my hand is sometimes what people call a “bad habit.” I’m always two seconds away from snapping a photo or a video, it’s more of an intuitive habit, to record and document everything. My phone is now an endless stream of snapshots of moments throughout my days in Venice. Videos of the interns talking about how the fluctuating weather is, or complaining about how they had an unsatisfying risotto the night before. Recordings and videos of myself learning Italian while sharing my shift with the fellow Italian intern as she asks me how to say “how are you” in Arabic. Her attempting different pronunciations as I butcher my way through broken Italian, followed by laughter at how we sound ridiculous.

An infinite documentation of myself and the humans around me, strangers or not. Whether I’m documenting my days through videos of people, candid photos or doodles and notes in my journal, not a single day here matches the other. All of these moments that I like reserved and compiled together becomes like a personal archive of my day to day adventures, no matter how small or big they are.

Maryam Alzaabi is an Emirati Architecture graduate from the American University of Sharjah. She is an aspiring artist and designer who documents her day to day life, travels and explorations through photography and art. Follow her adventures in Venice by following @veniceinterns and #veniceinterns on instagram and twitter, as well as her personal account on instagram @fixthesky, and her video compilations and experiments on her Vimeo page