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Public Domain: Public and Civic Spaces in the Arab World

Architecture

The exhibition which is part of part of the Mayor of London’s Festival, Shubbak, is curated by Nous and hosted in partnership with the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Exhibition Outline
> Concept
Rapid economic change, a focus on public infrastructure in Arab cities, and recent political events have led to changes in the nature of public and civic spaces in the Arab speaking world. Using photographs and films drawn from photojournalists, professional photographers and architectural practices, the exhibition will provide a journey through the Arab world’s civic and public spaces and showcase daily life in the region. The images will be of places where people meet, socialise, shop, exchange ideas, demonstrate, and celebrate. They will include pictures taken during the on-going protests and from everyday life at shopping centres, museums and cafes.
The exhibition will investigate the meaning of civic and public spaces in the Arab world – what types of spaces are considered “civic” or “public”, how the spaces are used, what the spaces look like, who uses the spaces, and how this is changing. The exhibition will also touch on the role of the Internet in civic and public life, exhibitions and academic research.
The exhibition is generously supported by Austin Smith: Lord, Demotix and the Art Project Tunisia.
> Contributors
Charlie Koolhaas
Dutch sociologist and artist Charlie Koolhaas has contributed extensively to magazines, books and exhibitions with her writing, visual art and photography. Her current work focuses on Cities – to give a true representation of cities as global centers of cross-cultural inhabitation and exchange, places for collaboration across fields and specialisms, beliefs and cultures.
Demotix Photojournalists
Demotix is the multi-award winning home of ‘Street Journalism' – the newswire where users tell the stories. Demotix’s extensive network of local photojournalists will contribute their perspective on public and civic life in their home countries.
Architecture Firms
Leading architecture and urbanism practices will contribute photographs to the exhibition.
> Set Up
Images on the exhibition walls will be displayed in a format to suggest traditional newspapers, with a description from the photographer to accompany their image or series of images. Images will be loosely grouped by theme.
Selected longer series of images will be hosted on-line and viewed by visitors on their mobile phones using QR codes.
Films will be displayed with a still image and description next to a QR code so that visitors can watch the films on their mobile phones. These will be dispersed among the images on the walls of the exhibition.
Newspapers have been selected for the display because they are the traditional public medium for expression and for their temporary nature. The juxtaposition of the newspapers with digital images and the use of QR codes will also emphasize how the Internet is superseding the traditional newspaper as a forum for public expression and sharing information, as well as how the Internet is impacting public and civic live.
> Possible Themes
1.            Daily life in the Arab world
2.            Traditional use of public space
3.            Influence of Western architects, planners and consultants
4.            Political uprisings and change in use of space
5.            Restrictions on public demonstrations and use of space
6.            Women in public spaces
7.            Effect of the Internet on public and civic life
8.            Economic development and downturn
9.            Government investment in public infrastructure
About the Mayor of London’s Festival
Shubbak: A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture, Presented by Mayor of London
Festival Dates 4-24 July
Shubbak: A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture, presented by the Mayor of London and held this 4-24 July, is a London-wide festival celebrating the best of contemporary Arab culture, including architecture, art, music, fashion, design, literature and dance. Events will be held at venues across the Capital, including the Barbican, British Museum, Sotheby's, Museum of London, Tate, Victoria & Albert Museum, Serpentine Gallery, Architectural Association and Royal Institute of British Architects.
The Shubbak Festival will attract over 300,000 participants, as well as stakeholders, businesses and opinion-formers from the UK and Arab region. There will be a major marketing and publicity campaign organised by the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority.
The Festival will be a first ever event – the first time so many different aspects of contemporary Arab culture have been celebrated in one London festival.
Nous is a London-based architecture consultancy, gallery and collaborative and has been appointed by the Mayor of London’s Office to spearhead the architectural events at the Shubbak Festival. Nous Architecture Events at Shubbak will be a series of high profile exhibitions and talks. They will showcase the very best of architecture from the Arab world and provide a platform for debate and discussion by leading thinkers, practitioners and representatives from the Arab region.
Nous Architecture Events at Shubbak in partnership with Royal Institute of British Architects
> Talks Series
The Talk Series held at the RIBA will provide an open forum for debate and discussion by leading thinkers and practitioners in the UK and Arab world.
Talk 1: Public Domain: Public and Civic Spaces in the Arab world - Speakers include: Murray Fraser, Professor of Architecture and Global Culture, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL; Nadim Khattar, Design Director of Middle East projects at Austin-Smith:Lord; Bernard Khoury, Principal, Bernard Khoury/DW5 Architects; Michel Mossessian, Principal, Mossessian & Partners; and Turi Munthe, CEO, Demotix. Moderator: Edwin Heathcote, Architecture and Design Critic for the Financial Times.
Talk 2: Forward Thinking: Discussions on the Future of Architecture in the Arab World - Speakers include: Ahmed Al-Ali and Farid Esmaeil, Principals, X-Architects (UAE); Salmaan Craig, Foster + Partners; Buro Happold; Peter Oborn, Deputy Chairman, Aedas Architects; Aidan Chopra, Google; and, Noura Al-Saleh, Curator for the Bahrain pavilion at the Venice Biennale
> Exhibition
Public Domain: Public and Civic Spaces in the Arab world
Using material drawn from photojournalists, professional photographers, and architectural practices, the exhibition will provide a journey through the public and civic spaces of the Arab world and showcase daily life in the region. The images and films will feature the places where people meet, socialise, shop, exchange ideas, demonstrate, and celebrate; they will include images from the on-going protests and from everyday life in streets, cafes and markets. The exhibition will also explore factors shaping public and civic spaces in the region, including rapid economic change, a focus on public infrastructure in Arab cities, recent political events, and the Internet.

For more information

 
URL www.london.gov.uk/shubbak
 

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