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Project Author: Ricardas Blazukas (WEFT) + Kawther Alsaffar & Jassim Alnashmi

Contributors: Alwafi Foundry, Mohamad Chehimi

Type: Curation / Sculpture

Services: Design, Production, Curation

Organizer: Jameel Arts Centre

Location: Dubai, UAE

Year: 2019

The series starts from a critique of the kitsch replication of Classical architectural motifs in Kuwaiti houses. Kuwait has struggled to develop a context-based design identity due to the copying of Greco-Roman decor. Desert Cast borrows the profiles that were used for extruded cornices and friezes for these homes, and morphs them, to produce and establish a Kuwaiti identity that is rooted in its migrant history, yet embraces its contemporary image.

Desert Cast is an exploration of locally available materials and fabrication methods to reach a local ‘maker’ identity. Different Kuwaiti production methods were explored and reinvented. Gypsum-moulding, for example, is a method used to easily reproduce Classical Graeco-Roman architectural motifs, many of Kuwait’s decorated mansions and modest villas utilize this affordable technique. Although simple methodically, the end results are formally elaborate and considered “Oriental”.

The objective was to align gypsum-moulding with sand-casting through the foam as a mediator to produce functional objects. The extruded profiles were cut in foam and used to cast complete metal objects by Alwafi Foundry master craftsmen. The objective is to shed light on the accessibility to master fabricators’ craft. These skills are used in a narrow practice, with limited perceived value, but by reading between the lines, can be used for much more. The Desert Cast installation visually narrates this story by showcasing functional objects at Jameel Arts Centre that are made through lost-foam casting.

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