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Design as Scholarship
Keswa: An Uncovering
Emily Baker
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Keswa, Arabic for covering, is a public installation of folded digitally cut steel that evokes the image of Arab Gulf women by abstracting the stretch and flow of black fabric found in the abaya, or traditional black robe used to cover women’s bodies in public. Two Saudi women, both architecture students, designed the piece and did the work of fabrication. Falling between the typology of the pavilion—a favored vehicle for architectural experimentation—and a piece of public art, Keswa invites the public to enter the space of the abaya, simultaneously venerating the garment and subverting its power to subordinate.

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