Client: Al Shaheed Park - Loyac
Location: Kuwait City, Kuwait
Completion date: 2020
Artwork budget: $24,000
Client Project Manager
Al Shaheed Park
Confluence is a memorial commissioned by the park to memorialise the Kuwaiti martyrs of the 1991 Invasion, which opened on August 2nd, 2020 coinciding with the day the invasion began. Manmade Studio came up with a minimalist Arabesque module that would be repeated to represent the multitude of martyrs as well as show their strength through numbers; one module is a half arch representing an individual, when this module is combined with another it forms a structural arch, the more connections/confluence, the stronger the resistance, which was the key reason behind Kuwait’s liberation.
From a historic standpoint, the sculpture deconstructs the memories of the Invasion-survivors in one common characteristic they all praised the martyrs for (confluence). From an architectural standpoint, the sculpture uses a motif seen around the Kuwaiti vernacular - the pointed arch - which comes from the historic Islamic architecture the region is known for, and innovatively combines the aesthetic and structural concepts of the 'muqarnas' which has a fractal nature, and this goes back full circle conceptually to echo the bond between people giving them strength in numbers. The fractal effect is prevalent by isolating one module which shows the arch and then zooming out only to see the same arch pattern from a macro view.
So the sculpture achieved the goals of captivating the viewer through a structural archetype that represents solidarity and involved an immaterial element (light) that adds a layer of complexity and sombre beauty to the memorial.
The commissioner has commissioned memorials in the past so they were well versed in what information to advise me on during the process when it comes to what kind of memorial they were interested in. Things like the number of modules and keeping it minimal without showing faces or names was important in keeping the piece more symbolic than confrontational. Some of the interactions during not only the creative process but the fabrication process only evolved the piece.
The repetition of the pointed arch module on top of eachother to form a larger arch is reminiscent of the muqarnas, an archetypal motif found in Islamic architecture, which aims to revive the arabesque heritage and the lost art of the geometrically complex muqarnas or honeycomb stalactite vault, which interestingly enough, when viewed from below when standing in the installation, the pattern becomes hexagonal, mirroring the concept of the honeycomb and the confluence between bee colonies. Due to the complexity of the geometry, the studio used digital fabrication techniques in order to achieve this vision. The installation was built by being fully modeled using 3D software, producing CAM drawings which were then lasercut in steel in a way that appears to be basic strips of metal, but when combined via the structural connections, the installation - with over 500 connections - becomes so solid that it can hold the weight of 10 people standing above it. After assembling the piece, it was lightly coated with the national colour, whilst maintaining the raw metallic texture. Additionally, ultra-violet daylight reacts with the metallic coating giving it a different hue day and night.