Cultural heritage embodied in traditional crafts is an integral part of the culture, economy, and society in developed and developing countries. Even though it is widely acknowledged that handicrafts have value as unique and sustainable forms of production, their preservation, promotion, and growth have been threatened by the forces of globalization and mass production. Due to the decline in interest among younger generations in traditions characterized by antiquated features, staticity, irrelevance, gender, and marginalization, weaving by women in rural communities in the United Arab Emirates has become extinct. In 2011 the traditional form of weaving known as Al Sadu was added to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in need of urgent protection. This prompts a crucial query: Could weaving’s transition from a handcraft to a comprehensive and transferrable design form protect it from the prospect of potential extinction? Through the creation of a continuous woven plane that unfolds and folds throughout the space, Intangible Tangible for the United Arab Emirates’ Pavilion for the Venice Biennale 2023 addressed this question and revealed the complex relationships between craft and design, material and space, and gender and making. The traditional biodegradable woven textile becomes a tangible structure when its complex forms and intricate connections are decoded as it unfolds. The proposal blurs the line between craft and design while materializing the weaver’s tangibility through the noble act of making.
Assistant Professor of Architecture and Interior Design, Architecture, American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates Maria Oliver
Assistant Professor, Architecture, American University of Sharjah, Ash Shariqah [Sharjah], United Arab Emirates
TRADITIONAL, HANDCRAFT, CRAFTS, DESIGN, CULTURE, HERITAGE, WOMEN, WEAVING