Submitted by WA Contents

Sumayya Vally and Moad Musbahi create a network of posts building "the logic of minarets and totems"

Italy Architecture News - Jun 06, 2023 - 14:56   2056 views

Sumayya Vally and Moad Musbahi create a network of posts building

Architect and Counterspace founder Sumayya Vally, together artist Moad Musbahi, sound artist Thania Petersen, and sound designer Sukanta Majumdar have created an installation comprised of a network of posts, building "the logic of minarets and totems".

The installation, titled The African Post Office, is shown in a special section, called Force Majeure, that forms one of the six parts of The Laboratory of the Future curated by Lesley Lokko at this year's Venice Architecture Biennale.

At Force Majeure, 16 architects, including David Adjaye and Diébédo Francis Kéré, showcase their works at this section displayed at the Central Pavilion in Giardini venue.

Sumayya Vally and Moad Musbahi create a network of posts building

Vally and Musbahi's work, The African Post Office, acts both as a new installation and a performance piece at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of Venice Architecture Biennale 2023.

In response to Lesley Lokko's theme The Laboratory of the Future, the team has created a speculative proposal that imagines an inter-continental infrastructure of gathering. 

Sumayya Vally and Moad Musbahi create a network of posts building

Metal vertical poles varying in heights are represented as a vertical ‘post’ that becomes the most essential element of architecture where it convenes gatherings - from totems and prayer staffs to minarets and sound systems.

In the installation, the team plays with the double meaning of "post": the installation acts as a spatial reinterpretation of the post as a pole, and as the infrastructural mechanism of a postal network that considers routes of prior passage.

Sumayya Vally and Moad Musbahi create a network of posts building

"More than my individual participation, it is incredibly special to be a part of this family Lesley has crafted. Lesley has been doing this work for decades. When I first met Lesley, she articulated for me, very early in my career, an Africa that we are waiting for and that we can imagine and bring into being," said Sumayya Vally. 

"Something I understood intuitively but didn’t hear articulated anywhere else." 

"This biennale is going to be those Africas. The ones we know are here - both past, present and future," Vally added.

The installation is envisioned as a space for sorting and processing, developing "an intercontinental bureaucratic apparatus" using the simple technology of the post. 

Sumayya Vally and Moad Musbahi create a network of posts building

While the work is experienced both visually and aurally, the team develops a language and related index of the ‘post’, "building on the logic of minarets and totems, two sociocultural technologies with far-reaching African influence." 

The field of posts has various thicknesses and heights that have individual markings and attachments. "While some hold flags of nations that no longer exist, and others are simply attachment points waiting to be moored," stated the team. 

Moad Musbahi stated that "The African Post Office is a proposal for a fictional office, in the genre of an afro-futurist art practice, to speculate on how might we bring together different infrastructures and musical performances, learning from the past, to imagine the possibilities of such inter-continental gatherings."

Sumayya Vally and Moad Musbahi create a network of posts building

By marking out a point, inscribing and elevating it, a project emerges that orchestrates space and social relations, as the team explained. 

This work is also derived from Counterspace’s work in the Maqam, an Arabic word that defines a musical scale and a physical space for gathering. 

Sumayya Vally and Moad Musbahi create a network of posts building

The filmic accompaniment indicates the distant landscapes and territories to which each of the posts refers, collapsing the present physicality of the space with other times and places that are gathered here. 

In this moment, the single post is used as a modest unit of power to radically reorganise passage and territory on, and a stage for activations to occur.

Sumayya Vally and Moad Musbahi create a network of posts building

Image © Stefano Colombo

Sumayya Vally and Moad Musbahi create a network of posts building

Image © Stefano Colombo

World Architecture Community will publish an exclusive interview with Sumayya Vally soon.

The Venice Architecture Biennale 2023 is taking place from Saturday 20 May to Sunday 26 November, 2023 at the Arsenale and Giardini venues in Italy. 

The theme of the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale is The Laboratory of the Future curated by Ghanaian-Scottish architect, academic, and novelist Professor Lesley Lokko.

Read more about WAC's coverage about the biennale pavilions on Venice Architecture Biennale 2023. To see more pavilions from this year's biennale, you can also visit WAC's Instagram/Reels for exclusive videos.

All images © Matteo de Mayda, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia, unless otherwise stated. 

> via Counterspace 

Counterspace Moad Musbahi Sumayya Vally Venice Architecture Biennale