Sumayya Vally on the First Islamic Arts Biennale: “Claim, Reclaim, Configure, and Reconfigure”

The First Islamic Arts Biennale, curated by Sumayya Vally, opened on January 2023 and is still ongoing until May 23, 2023, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It re-imagines the Western Hajj Terminal at King Abdulaziz Airport, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and winner of the 1983 Aga Khan Award, as a cultural space to redefine Islamic Arts from “within, in a way, that connects some of these art forms and forms of artistic expression to the experience and rituals” of those that live it.

Sumayya Vally is a South African architect, founder, and director of the Johannesburg-based collaborative architectural studio Counterspace. Designer of the Serpentine Pavilion in 2020/2021, she was the youngest architect to get this commission. Part of Time’s 100 emerging leaders who are shaping the future, in 2021, the only architect to make the list at that time, Sumayya started her career as a curator and teacher, and recently she was appointed as artistic director of the first Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah. ArchDaily had the chance to talk with Vally about her contribution to this biennale, her vision of the exhibition, the venue, the scenography, and the participating architects. Sumayya also shared some exclusive info about her entry for the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale, starting on May 20th, in Venice, Italy.

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