Cerberus. The Three Headed Monster

A Behemoth Press project at the 15th Venice Biennale 2016
Kuwait Pavilion Between East and West: a Gulf
with Amir Djalali, Hamed Khosravi and Matteo Mannini Architects

We often use the words of pirate and privateer interchangeably, while in fact each has a particular meaning. Legally, there is a difference between a pirate and a privateer: unlike the pirate, the privateer holds a legal title, the commission from a government, a “letter of marque”. (S)he is entitled to fly a country’s flag. On the opposite, pirates navigate without a legal authorisation. Their only flag is the black-flag.

Nevertheless, this distinction so clear and elegant in theory was blurred in practice. Privateers often exceeded the limits of their licenses and navigated using forged letters of marque and, at other times, were armed only with licenses from non-existing governments. Somehow we could claim that privateers were not so dissimilar from contemporary freelancers. A freelancer is in fact a one-man company: an entrepreneur of herself. The life of a freelancer coincides with her own work: pure labor power at the service of a client. As for freelancers, the life of privateers was based on a contract with a sovereign, proceeding at their own private risk. Their actions were not illegal, but precarious. Their ventures were possible, because both operations -- blockade-running and smuggling -- occurred in the no man's land of a double freedom, the non-state sphere: first spatially, in the sphere of the free sea, and second, substantively, in the sphere of free trade.

In respond to the Kuwait Pavilion’s theme at the coming Venice Biennale, “Between East and West, a Gulf”, Behemoth Press (Amir Djalali, Hamed Khosravi, Francesco Marullo) in collaboration with Matteo Mannini Architects explored contemporary seafarers and old privateers: drawing from the legends surrounding a lost Ark, the figure of Rahmah ibn Jabir al-Jalahimah, oil tankers, cyber-armies and underwater network cables, they conjectured a project for past and the future of the Abu Musa Province islands in the Hormuz strait —Siri, Abu Musa, Tunb and Nabiu Tunb, Farur and Nabiu Farur.

These architectural interventions tackle the geopolitical condition of thePersian Gulf, focusing on the historical tensions for the supremacy over the transit channel between UAE, Iran and the other Gulf nations. The strategic position of the islands, their desolated landscape and their technological substrata, will not only unfold the hidden mythological layers of the region but also offer a delirious reading of the present conditions.

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