Arab Contemporary: Architecture, Culture and Identity

31 Jan 2014 - 4 May 2014

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark

Ahmed Mater with Antenna 2010

Two years after the 'New Nordic' exhibition, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk (Denmark) presented the second exhibition in the Architecture, Culture, Identity series, a look at 'Contemporary Arab' architecture. Antenna was featured alongside works by artists, photographers and architects.

The exhibition drew out unifying themes within the broader cultural notion of an Arab world. In an area divided in religion, politics and landscape, Arab Contemporary examined the effects of architecture in expressing common themes and concerns. It explored the transformation and development of space, the boundaries between spaces both private and public, and attempts to develop ideas of the Arab landscape, particularly the desert, as ‘place.’ Concerned with the constant transformation of society, politics and design, Arab Contemporary tracked the architectural development of a vast area, consisting of 22 countries, in an attempt to identify the essence of Arab culture today.

The exhibition focussed on new cities such as Dubai, ancient civilisations and new buildings, presenting work by important architectural studios including Ateliers Jean Nouvel, X-Architects, Foster & Partners and Henning Larsen Architects. The exhibition documented how architecture expresses identity with repercussions on the basic distinguishing features of the culture of a country or region, through drawings, photographs, installations, films and models. It cast light on the shared features of architectural elements and visual culture in an attempt to answer the question of what Arab identity is in the highly varied context of the Arab world across 22 countries with different lifestyles, cultures and landscapes, yet all sharing a common language.

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