DAAR (Decolonizing Architecture Art Research) is an architectural collective that combines conceptual speculations and pragmatic spatial interventions, discourse and collective learning. The artistic research of Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti are situated between politics, architecture, art and pedagogy. In their practice art exhibitions are both sites of display and sites of action that spill over into other contexts: built architectural structures, the shaping of critical learning environments, interventions that challenge dominant collective narratives, the production of new political imaginations, the formation of civic spaces and the re-definition of concepts.
DAAR: Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti
In the last decade, Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti have developed a research and project-based artistic practice that is both theoretically ambitious and practically engaged in the struggle for justice and equality. They founded Campus in Camps, an experimental educational program hosted in Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem with the aims to overcome conventional educational structures by creating a space for critical and grounded knowledge production connected to greater transformations and the democratization of society. Camus in Camps has today offshoot in other Palestinian camps and is linked in a consortium with universities around the world. – www.campusincamps.ps – In 2007 with Eyal Weizman they founded DAAR (Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency) in Beit Sahour, Palestine, with the aim to combine an architectural studio and an art residency able to gathered together architects, artists, activists, urbanists, film-makers, and curators to work collectively on the subjects of politics and architecture – www.decolonizing.ps –
Their latest publication Permanent Temporariness (Art and Theory, Stockholm 2019 – PT-presentation ) is a book, a catalog, and an archive that accounts for 15 years of research and experimentation, and creation that are marked by an inner tension and a visionary drive that re-thinks itself through collective engagement. Permanent Temporariness book was published in connection with their eponymous retrospective exhibition that was inaugurated at the New York University Abu Dhabi Art Gallery in 2018, and at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven in 2019.
Hilal was the head of the Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Program in the West Bank at UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) from 2008 to 2014. Alessandro Petti has written on the emerging spatial order dictated by the paradigm of security and control in Archipelagos and enclaves (Bruno Mondadori, Milan 2007) and more recently Petti and Hilal co-authored with Eyal Weizman the book Architecture after Revolution (Sternberg, Berlin 2014) an invitation to rethink today’s struggles for justice and equality not only from the historical perspective of revolution, but also from that of a continued struggle for decolonization.
The participation in various international exhibitions, among them the Biennale di Venezia (2003-2008-2009-2013-2015), Istanbul Biennial (2009), Home Works Beirut (2010), Bienal de São Paulo (2014), the Asian Art Biennial (2015), Marrakesh Biennial (2016), and Qalandia International (2016) aimed to investigate and act upon the formation of different social, political and spatial relation between people, state and territory beyond the liberal notion of citizenship. The practical implications of these conceptual and artistic interventions have been tested more concretely with architectural interventions in refugee camps. In 2014 the Shu’fat School for Girls was inaugurated for 1,000 students, teachers, and local organizations as an expression of dignity and strength of the refugee community living in overcrowded refugee camps. Further, in 2015 these practices led to the construction of a “Concrete Tent” in the garden of the Al Finiq Cultural Center in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, a pavilion that embodies the contradiction of the permanent temporariness of Palestinian refugees.
Their artist practice has received the following awards: Keith Haring Fellowship in Art and Activism at Bard College, Loeb Fellowship Harvard University, Price Claus Prize for Architecture, shortlisted for Visible Award, the Curry Stone Design Prize, the New School’s Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics, the Anni and Heinrich Sussmann Artist Award , the Chrnikov Prize and recipient of the Foundation for Art initiatives grant.
Alessandro is a professor of Architecture and Social Justice at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm and Sandi has initiated the living room project, a series of spaces of hospitality that have the potential to subvert the role of guest and host.
Refugee Heritage Public Discussion II, Documenta Kassel, August 12, 2017
Alessandro Petti, Sandi Hilal, Jad Tabet, Isshaq Al-Barbary, Mohammed Allahham, Rasha Salti, Paul B. Preciado
Al Madhafah is a project by DAAR: Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti in collaboration with Yasmeen Mahmoud, Ibrahim Muhammad Haj Abdulla, and Ayat Al-Turshan.
Living Room, a short film about the first phase of the project directed by Ana Naomi de Sousa, was commissioned by ArkDesk, Stockholm, with the support of Public Art Agency Sweden.
DAAR board members: Ghaida Rahil (Board Director), Cristina Al-Shaib (Treasurer), Maher Qassis (deputy board director), Wafa Qumsieh (board member), Lia Musleh (board member), Issa Andoni (board member), Sawsan Khair (board member), Arwa Shomali (financial officer).
DAAR international coordinator and producer: Husam Abu Salem
DAAR residents: Annabel Danson, Soumaya Difalla, Sandy Rashmawi, Isshaq Al-Barbary, (-) Nathan Witt, Mais Musleh, Riccardo Maroso, Gador Luque, Elsa Koehler, Sandy Rashmawi, Isshaq Al-Barbary (-) Haneen Abo Khiran, Lucia Disluci, Nathan Witt, Dalia Abu Hashish, Lucia Maffei (-) Margo Van Den Berge, Eduardo Cassina, Liva Dudareva, Arne Carpentier, Nick Axel, Jacob Burns (-) Lorenzo Pezzani, Sanne Van Den Breemer, Patricia Fernandes, Gabriel A. Cuellar, Zhongqi Ren, Sai Shu, Rizki M. Supratman, Lieven De Cauter (-) Nicola Perugini, Sonia Arw, Benoît Burquel, Luisa Cerlini, Elisa Ferrato, Alesssandra Gola, Suzanne Harris-Brandts, Benjamin Leclair-Paquet, Michael Baers, Amina Bech (-) Sean Murphy, Marco Cerati, Ahmad Barclay, Merlin Eayrs, Sebastiaan Loosen, Marcella Rafaniello, Maria Rocco, Mahdi Sabbagh, Bert Ruelens, Nina Valerie Kolowratnik, Tashy Endres, Diego Segatto (-) Allegra Martin, Roberto Sartor, Armina Pilav, Sara Pellegrini, Mario Abruzzese, Francesca Vargiu, Beatrice Catanzaro (-) Bianca Elzenbaumer, Fabio Franz, Vincezo Castella, Anne Gough, Zakiya Hanafi, Jake Himmel, Jesse Long, Salvatore Porcaro, Francesca Recchia, Lorenzo Romito.
Jury statement about Decolonizing Architecture in the occasion of Prince Claus Fund Award