After his hugely successful floating cinemas for the film festivals in Thailand and Venice, Ole Scheeren delights moviegoers once again, this time with a unique experience at the Sharjah Biennial
Ten years after its inception in 1993, Sharjah Biennial is still going strong as a celebrated cultural event in the Arab world. Despite the burgeoning arts and cultural movements taking place in the rest of the world, this biennial event is still chasing the limelight in the conservative enclave of the Gulf. Progress has been made, however, for this year, Sharjah Biennial wowed critics, who praised its ongoing role in shedding light on both the art and cultural scenes in the region.
In the heart of the historic centre of Sharjah, where the Biennial recently took place in May this year, five new multi-functional art spaces comprising approximately 20,000 sq-ft of interior space were inaugurated during the opening of the biennial. Inside Sharjah’s historical fabric, an ethereal courtyard cinema experience was created by architect Ole Scheeren – the Mirage City Cinema, which follows his ground-breaking floating cinema for the Film on the Rocks Yao Noi Film Festival in Thailand in March last year (a winner at the Perspective Awards 2012) and then at the Venice Biennale in September 2012.
In collaboration with curator Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who was responsible for the programme of film screenings, Scheeren – in respect of fading Sharjah traditions – drew his inspiration from Sharjah’s past. For example, floor carpets that were used for sleeping and relaxing on rooftops are scattered around the courtyard, used as seating for movie-goers. Sleeping on rooftops used to be common practice in the region, but is now largely defunct because roof space now tends to be occupied by air-conditioning units.
Another example was the use of abandoned materials. Coral mixed with mud plaster was formerly used to build the outer walls of houses, but whose use as construction material is now forbidden. However, Scheeren recycled decaying walls, using the material for the ground of the cinema space.
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