Bahrain

The Nation from Center to Margin

The Kingdom of Bahrain’s first-time Venice pavilion, “In A World Of Your Own,” after two very successful participations in the Architecture Biennale, brings together the trio of Mariam Haji, Waheeda Mallulah, and Camille Zakharia, two Bahraini women and a Lebanese artist, presenting works spanning across photography, collage, and drawing.

The exhibition is conceived as an environment, through which the artists unmake national identities at a time when the Gulf is experiencing the rise of post-colonial nationalisms and identity politics. Responding to current geopolitical enfranchisement, the exhibition disestablishes normative identity through a series of interventions questioning the boundaries of social norms, the role of women and the place of historical memory. More than a national pavilion, it is an experiment in understanding the role of images in configuring reality.

Bahrain is a newcomer into the world of contemporary art, in spite of a long tradition of abstract and expressionist painting and sculpture. The postmodern scenario of gentrification, overpopulation, labor migration and hyper-spaces is played out in Bahrain, in such a way that art reflects the difficulties that Bahrain encounters when addressing “tradition.” The pavilion asks poignant questions about the nature of space – in terms of memory and experience – and how all these contemporary phenomena distinctively shape the living space of Bahrain.

Cultural and political structures become obviously altered in the process and that is how they appear in the exhibition as disembodied selves, personal experiences bordering on alienation, and discontinuity. It is still not entirely clear to which extent this concept represents the current state of visual arts in Bahrain but can be seen also as trend-setting and encouraging. But a central question remains: What is national identity in a country so beset by constant physical and social change? Is it even necessary?

Arie Amaya-Akkermans

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Pavilion

Organizer/Commissioner:
Minister of Culture (Mai bint Mohommed Al Khalifa)
Artists:
Mariam Haji; Waheeda Malullah; Camille Zakharia
Curator:
Melissa Enders-Bhatia
Open Call?
No

Curator

Name:
Melissa Enders-Bhatia
Gender:
Female
Born:
Germany
Lives and works in:
Bahrain
No. of participations in the venice biennale:
2

Artist

Name:
Camille Zakharia
Gender:
Male
Born:
Lebanon, 1962
Lives and works in:
Bahrain
No. of participations in the venice biennale:
1
Represented by galleries in:
Dubai, Lausanne and London

Artist

Name:
Waheeda Malullah
Gender:
Female
Born:
Bahrain, 1978
Lives and works in:
Bahrain
No. of participations in the venice biennale:
1

Artist

Name:
Mariam Haji
Gender:
Female
Born:
Bahrain, 1985
Lives and works in:
Germany
No. of participations in the venice biennale:
1

Politics & Economics

State System:
Constitutional monarchy
Ruling Political Party:
Sheikh Hamad is the head of state
Population (World Bank, 2011):
1,323,535
GDP per capita (World Bank, 2011):
$18,184
Net OECD ODA Aid Received (2011):
$0
Military Expenditure (SIPRI, 2011):
$953,000,000

Alliances


Arab League
Non-Aligned Movement
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
WTO

Conflicts

Country independent since:
1971 (from Britain)
Last Major Border Revision:
1521
Colonial History:
Former British protectorate
Global Militarization Index (BICC, 2011):
9
Nuclear Force?
No
Ongoing Conflicts and Disputes:
Ongoing unrest since the Arab Uprisings in 2011. Protesters demanding democratic reforms and equal rights have been met with force by the Bahrain state backed by Saudi troops.
Participation in Multinational Missons:
NATO mission in Afghanistan.