The first aluminium smelter in the Gulf region was inaugurated in 1968 in Bahrain and is today the fourth largest single-site smelter in the world. It continues a history of metal trade that finds its roots as far back as the third millennium BC when the Islands were at the crossroads of the regional trade route for copper and tin.
The smelter was initiated as an effort to diversify the economy away from its reliance on oil by broadening the industrial infrastructure. At roughly the same time, standardised products of construction such as window frames, cladding panels and others also made their entry into the Island and progressively infiltrated all aspects of the construction process partially disconnecting building from local context. Today, aluminium cladding of high-rises and towers, and increasingly in the re-cladding of older facades, is one of the most visible expressions of contemporary architecture in Bahrain.
The presence of the smelter, developed a local economy of aluminium- both formal and informal. Alongside,large locally-based international companies producing typical byproducts of aluminium, smaller workshops have developed with a focus on a smaller-scale production of aluminium.
By closely examining the gestures of aluminium production, the installation in the Arsenale, through film, photography and a sand-casted aluminium pavilion, attempts to extract a different potential of using the material, away from standardised uses and global production cycles.
- Anne Holtrop, Aliuminium Casting, the Netherlands, 2016.
- Armin Linke and Giulia Bruno, Carbon at Alba, Bahrin, 2016.
- Armin Linke and Giulia Bruno, Aliuminium frames, Bahrain, 2016.