Mahalla Stories

Mahalla Stories

Uzbekistan Pavilion at Biennale Architettura 2021 presents
Mahalla Stories
August 24–31, 2021

The Republic of Uzbekistan participates for the first time at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia with the exhibition Mahalla: Urban Rural Living, commissioned by the Art and Culture Development Foundation under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan, curated by Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein, professors of architecture and design at ETH Zurich, and founding partners of Christ & Gantenbein, and featuring works by Spanish filmmaker Carlos Casas, Dutch photographer Bas Princen, and the CCA Lab Tashkent.

In parallel with the ongoing exhibition, Uzbekistan presents “Mahalla Stories,” a series of events and education programs taking place in August and October comprising concerts organized by the sound artist and filmmaker Carlos Casas, and talks organized by the ETH Zurich. “Mahalla Stories” will present to the public of the Venice Biennale an insight into Uzbek local music and sound ecology; into how the mahallas have influenced the work of artists; into the process of creation behind the exhibition; and of course, into Uzbek architecture.

A selection of these events will stream on e-flux on August 24, 25, 26, and 31.


August 24, 4pm–6pm CET, Uzbek Pavilion - streaming
Curated by Carlos Casas

The famous Shodiyona ensemble and the maqom singer Khushnud Solijonov will demonstrate together the beauty of the traditional musical culture of Uzbekistan.

Karnay and surnay are two very similar, but at the same time different Uzbek instruments. Surnay has been considered the closest relative of the Caucasian zurna since ancient times. Due to its rare and strong sound, surnay has become one of the main national musical instruments. Karnay is a long copper pipe made up of two or three elbows. Strictly speaking, it is not even a musical instrument, but a signal one. It is difficult to mistake the sounds of karnay for anything else as after having heard it once, you can recognize it from thousands of other sounds. Karnay and surnay are widely used together in various national celebrations, including wedding and birth ceremonies. 

The art of maqom is a unique phenomenon of the artistic singing culture of the peoples of the Middle East: it originates in ancient pre-Islamic times, and its formation and development are associated with the era of the “Eastern Renaissance.”

August 25, 6pm–7pm CET, Palazzo Grassi - streaming
Open talk 

Chloe Drieu (CNRS Researcher) discusses movies and Uzbek culture with Saodat Ismailova (filmmaker and artist) before the screening of the  black-and-white Uzbek comedy The Whole Mahalla Speaks About This (1960), directed and produced by prominent Uzbek filmmaker Shukhrat Abbosov. The film is considered to be one of the best Uzbek films of all time, and Shukhrat Abbosov, who received a National Artist of the USSR award for his works, is celebrated as one of the founders of the Uzbek filmmaking industry.

The events in the movie occur in a mahalla—a traditional Uzbek neighborhood—in an old part of Tashkent at a time when big-scale construction works are taking place. The movie humorously depicts the relationships between traditional parents and their modern children.

August 26, 2pm–5pm CET, Uzbek Pavilion - streaming 
Discussion: Architecture of the Commons

Emanuel Christ and Christoph Gantenbein, curators of the Uzbek Pavilion, will engage in a discussion with Tom Avermaete, Artyom Kosmarsky, Anna Puigjaner, Alexey Ulko, and Gayane Umerova on the implications that the commons, as social, economical, and political processes, have in architecture and urban design.

August 31, 3pm–6pm CET, Uzbek Pavilion - streaming 
Sound sessions at the Uzbekistan Pavilion (concert)

With Enrico Malatesta (percussion/objects), Giovanni Lami (samples, electronics), and Glauco Salvo (field recordings, electronics)

The Uzbekistan Pavilion has the pleasure of inviting three of the most interesting musicians and sound practitioners from Italy, whose practice blurs the limits of improvisation, sound ecology, objectual resonance, and deep listening practices. A special live improviational session using percussion/objects, field recordings, samples, and electronics and activating the pavilion with new sounds.

Architecture, Urbanism, Music
Biennials, The Commons, Caucasus & Central Asia

Emanuel Christ established his architecture office in Basel with Christoph Gantenbein in 1998. He is a Professor of Architecture and Design in the Department of Architecture at ETH Zürich.

Christoph Gantenbein established his architecture office in Basel with Emanuel Christ in 1998. He is a Professor of Architecture and Design in the Department of Architecture at ETH Zürich.

Tom Avermaete is professor in the History and Theory of Urban Design at ETH Zurich. His research focuses on the architecture of the city and the changing roles, approaches, and tools of architects and urban designers from a cross-cultural perspective.

Alexey Ulko holds a MEd TTELT degree from the University of Exeter (UK), and is a member of the European Society for Central Asian Studies, the Association of Art Historians (UK), and the Central Eurasian Studies Society (USA)

Gayane Umerova is Executive Director of the Art and Culture Development Foundation under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and Secretary-General of the National Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan for UNESCO.

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