Alia Farid by Djinane AlSuwayeh. Courtesy of the artist.
Alia Farid, Vault, 2019, at the PinchukArtCentre in Kiev, Ukraine. Photo by Maksym Bilousov. Courtesy of the PinchukArtCentre.
Alia Farid’s art concerns many-faceted themes firmly enmeshed in the fabric of contemporary life. Her projects have a way of taking on lives of their own. She was tapped to curate the pavilion of her native Kuwait at the 2014 Venice Biennale of Architecture, where she presented a century of Kuwaiti modernity as it came to be shaped by the discovery of oil. But the presentation also spawned an informal school that outlived the pavilion, becoming a venue for discussing the social dimensions of architectural spaces and environments.
Installation view of Alia Farid, Drinking Fountain, at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale. Courtesy of the artist.
Since 2014, Farid has shown in a string of the world’s most prominent biennials—the Bienal de São Paulo in 2016, the Gwangju Biennale in 2018, and the Sharjah Biennial earlier this year—and she was shortlisted for the 2019 Future Generation Art Prize. Her work has been shown by Paris’s Galerie Imane Farès since 2016. Lately, she’s drawn on her background—her family fled to Puerto Rico during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in the early ’90s—while also privileging conceptual rigor and ambition over personal biography.
Claire Tancons, co-curator of this year’s Sharjah Biennial, said of Farid: “At a time of revival of identity politics, she knows not to flaunt her dual Gulfic and Caribbean background, but rather to put both to task to sharpen a distinctly individual authorial mark.”