Iceland’s ‘The Mosque’ enters Venice Biennale

An installation called ‘The Mosque’ is Iceland’s entrant to the 56th Venice Biennale, which will take place in a 10th century monument in the picturesque Italian city.

Icelandic artist Christoph Buchel created the design with the help of Muslim communities in Iceland and Venice. The Mosque will be exhibited inside the renowned Santa Maria della Misericordia in Cannaregio and will house Islam’s main icons such as the minibar, mihrab and qibla wall as well as a large prayer carpet facing towards Mecca. It will also put on educational and cultural programmes during the event.

Icelandic Art Center director Bjorg Stefansdottir, who is also the commissioner of the Icelandic Pavilion, explained that they chose Buchel to design the feature because he “fulfilled the idea of the Icelandic Art Center” because he promoted communion and dialogue among cultures in Iceland and overseas.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Community of Iceland president, Sverrir Agnarsson, said he was “proud” to support the idea, which comes at a time of an ongoing campaign to establish Reykjavik’s first mosque.

He explained that in the past you would never think there was a chance seeing mosques in places such as Reykjavik and Venice, but said now there was the hope that such initiatives could lead to greater interaction between Muslims and the other communities of people in Reykjavik, Venice and other cities around the world.