In a world of your own

Pavilion of the Kingdom of Bahrain at the 55th
International Art Exhibition
La Biennale di Venezia
1st June — 24th November 2013

In A World of Your Own is the Kingdom of Bahrain’s first national participation at the 55th International Art Exhibition — la Biennale di Venezia. The pavilion, located at the Arsenale Artiglierie in Venice, was commissioned by Her Excellency Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Culture of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

The Exhibition

Having gained its independence from British rule
in 1971, Bahrain is a relatively young nation. An art scene, while similarly young, is not just nascent, rather it has been developing for more than sixty years. The first Bahraini artists to seek art education abroad, ventured to Egypt, Syria and Iraq in the 1960s and later to France and the USA. Based on the work of these pioneers of an independent modern art movement in Bahrain, a growing number of contemporary artists has emerged, seeking to express themselves in newer media. Amongst these, Mariam Haji, Waheeda Malullah and Camille Zakharia have been chosen to represent Bahrain due to their artistic merit. In a context where there is as yet no tradition of breaking with tradition, each artist represents a kind of leadership in the search for innovation and self-questioning in their art practice, which is the foundation of a developing contemporary art scene.

The pavilion of the Kingdom of Bahrain presents the work of Mariam Haji, Waheeda Malullah and Camille Zakharia in a loose curatorial framework, tied together by the subjective exploration of culture and self that lies at the core of their art practices. With an emphasis on the importance of identity, the pavilion examines the expression of interiority and private meanings in these artists.


Melissa Enders Bhatia

Melissa Enders-Bhatia works in Bahrain for the Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Center for Culture and Research as arts exhibitions curator and director of the center’s exhibition space, the Bin Matar House. The Shaikh Ebrahim Center’s art program is dedicated to the promotion of local artists as well as a program of exhibitions covering all forms of visual arts, ranging from drawing to photography and architecture. Mrs Enders-Bhatia has curated numerous exhibitions of contemporary Bahraini and Middle Eastern art, including the first exhibition of Zaha Hadid’s design objects in the Middle East (March 2010), a retrospective of Camille Zakharia’s collage practice (January 2010) and exhibitions for Bahraini artists Abdulrahim Sharif (October 2009), Khalid Farhan (May 2010), Mariam Haji (October 2012) and Ghada Khunji (March 2013) amongst others.

The German born art historian holds a Master’s degree in Contemporary Art and Connoisseurship from Christie’s Education Institute, New York.


Mariam Haji


Mariam Haji is an artist working in multiple media, ranging from video to installation and performance. Her recent focus has been on drawing and painting. Born in 1985 in Bahrain, the artist currently resides in Berlin. She gained a Diploma in Art and Design at Dundee College, Scotland and later completed a Bachelor in Fine Arts (Drawing), at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia.
Mariam Haji’s work has been exhibited widely, including in Bahrain at the Bin Matar House (Premonition, 2012), The Bahrain National Museum (The Muse series, 2011), Al Bareh Gallery (Army of Mariam, Spring of Culture Festival 2009) and Al Riwaq Art Space (various group exhibitions, 2009-2011), and in Melbourne, Australia at the First Site Gallery (The Unlovely, 2008), the Guildford Lane Gallery (4 Flights, 2008), and the Blind Side Gallery (Humming a New Dysphoria, 2008).
Haji’s performance art projects include Nafas, at the Takt Artist Residency (TamTam8 Gallery, Berlin, Germany, 2011), Human Waste Placenta Infinity (Budaiya Beach, Fort Museum, Bahrain, 2010), The Cuboid Collective (Elham Arts Festival, Bahrain National Museum, Bahrain, 2009), Metasenta Projects (Tashkeel Arts, Dubai, 2009) and Corpus Couture (Spin Cycle Festival, Melbourne, Australia, 2006)
In January 2012, Mariam Haji won the first prize, the Al Dana Prize, at Bahrain’s 38th Annual Fine Arts exhibition.

Waheeda Malullah

Waheeda Malullah is a visual artist who works in multiple media with a focus on photography and video. Born in 1978, Waheeda lives and works in Bahrain. She holds a degree in Graphic Design from the Regional Institute for Advertising and Marketing, Bahrain.

Malullah’s work has been exhibited extensively both regionally and internationally. In Bahrain, she has been exhibited at Al Riwaq Art Space. In addition she participated in Light from the Middle East: New Photography (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK, 2012-13), 25 Years of Arab Creativity (Institut du monde arabe, Paris, France, 2012-13), MinD/Body (Dubai Community Theatre & Arts Centre, Abu Dhabi, UAE, 2013), Woman on the Verge (Empty Quarter Gallery, Dubai, UAE, 2012), Somehow, somewhat in the middle of things (Liefhertje en De Grote Witte Reus, Den Haag, Holland, 2012), The Cinéma du Réel festival (Centre Pompidou, Paris, France, 2012), the Sharjah Biennal 2009, and the 11th International Cairo Biennale (2008-9). Waheeda Malullah participated in residencies at the Townhouse Gallery (Cairo, Egypt, 2005) and the Delfina Foundation (London, UK, 2008-9). In January 2013, Malullah won the first prize, the Al Dana Prize, at Bahrain’s 39th Annual Fine Arts exhibition. Waheeda Malullah’s works can be found in the collections of the Institut du monde arabe and the British Museum.

Camille Zakharia

Camille Zakharia is a documentary photographer and collage artist. Born in 1962 in Tripoli, Lebanon, the artist has lived in Bahrain for close to twenty years. He holds a Bachelor degree in Fine Arts from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, Canada.

Zakharia has lectured and led numerous workshops on both documentary photography and photocollage practices. His work has been exhibited extensively, including at AlieNation (Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah UAE, 2012), Photoquai (Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, 2011), Freedom (Chobi Mela V, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 2009), My Father’s House: The Architecture of Cultural Heritage (British Council touring exhibition, 2009–10), Jameel Prize 2009 (V&A touring exhibition, 2009–2010), Sharjah Biennal 8 (2007), The Lands Within Me: Expressions by Canadian Artists of Arab Origin (Canadian Museum of Civilisation, Ottawa, 2001–2003). His project, Coastal Promenade was the photographic essay for the Reclaim project that won the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2010 for the Kingdom of Bahrain. Camille Zakharia’s works can be found in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, the Canadian Museum of Civilization (Hull Quebec, Canada), the Musée Suisse de l’Appareil Photographique (Vevey, Switzerland), the Wichita Center for the Arts (Wichita Kansas, USA), the National Museum of Bahrain (Manama Bahrain), the Qatar Museum Authority (Doha, Qatar) and the Barjeel Art Foundation (Sharjah, UAE).


Mariam Haji

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Waheeda Malullah

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Camille Zakharia

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Ministry of Culture
Kingdom of Bahrain

Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa

Melissa Enders-Bhatia

Assistant curators
Eman Ali
Frances Stafford

Exhibiting artists
Mariam Haji
Waheeda Malullah
Camille Zakharia

Assistant to Mariam Haji
Georgina Pope

Assistant to Camille Zakharia
Somaya Abdulghani

Assistant to Camille Zakharia
Abdulla Al Mahmood

Exhibition design
Ludovico Centis
Matteo Ghidoni
Michele Marchetti

Exhibition design assistant
Yoichi Iwamoto

Lighting consultant

Exhibition construction & installation



Reclaim (Standalone site)

Mariam Haji