Author Archive

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THE LAWLESS LINE
Sandi Hilal, Alessandro Petti, Eyal Weizman and Nicola Perugini,
Oxford Journals Law London Review of International Law Volume 1, Issue 1Pp. 201-209 (march 2014)
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REIMAGINING THE COMMON: RETHINKING THE REFUGEE EXPERIENCE
Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti
in The Human Snapshot, Thomas Keenan, Tirdad Zolghadr (Eds.)
Sternberg April 2013
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SPATIAL ORDERING OF EXILE. THE ARCHITECTURE OF PALESTINIAN REFUGEE CAMPS
Alessandro Petti
Crios, Carrocci 1/2013, january-June pp. 62-70
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Art & Social Space
Decolonizing Architecture: Interview with Alessandro Petti
by Ana María Durán
08/15/13
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AGAINST THE EXTERMINATION OF SPACE
Alessandro Petti
domus N. 970, june 2013
“The design of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music offers an opportunity to engage the question of public space in the city of Bethlehem, and reconsider its value”
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Posted: 12.03.2014

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Fiorita-Zahra, a Muslim farmers new town. Ente di colonizzazione della Libia, 1939. Source: IsIAO

During the period of its Fascist regime, Italy employed modern architecture to represent its imperial ambitions in Libya, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia. Ruins of Roman era architecture in Libya were used as political anchors to legitimize the “return” of Italy to these territories and the creation of a “new Roman Empire”.

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Ras Hal and Balbo. Source: IsIAO

In Libya it was the quintessential modern infrastructure — an “autostrada” that connected the series of white washed agricultural settlements and compounds, simultaneously modern and orientalist, along the Libyan coastline. The via Balbia — named after Libya Fascist governor, Italo Balbo was a strategic highway: it was fought for both by Romel and Montgomery in WWII and by government and revolutionary forces in 2011. However the way these battle lines were drawn reflected the historical and geographical distinctions that Italian colonization and the more recent “Gheddafi-Berlusconi reconciliation” of 2009 attempted to bypass, ignore or reproduce a farce of the past. To a certain extent the Libyan civil war was the return of the pre-colonial repressed.

B&G

However crucial they were for the colonial project for Italy’s history and identity the modernist architecture of Italian colonialism is as little known as the entire period of Italian colonialism and its ongoing legacy. The embarrassing beauty of these architecture contrasts with the crimes of the colonization that have never been acknowledged; The afterlife of these buildings might help to unpack and reveal the strict problematic relation between modernism and colonization, Italy and its colonial ghosts across three periods – Colonization, Decolonization and Revolution — each with its complex political realities.

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Fiorita-Zahra, a Muslim farmers new town. Ente di colonizzazione della Libia, 1939. Source: IsIAO

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The endless decolonization of Libya will be presented for the first time in occasion of the
Architecture Venice Biennale (7th June > 23rd November 2014)
Monditalia

Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti will present and discuss the newly published book by DAAR “Architecture after Revolution” at Riwaq, Centre for Architectural Conservation‎
Wednesday February 5th, 2.30pm
Al sharafeh Street, Ramallah
Riwaq
the book

Posted: 04.12.2013

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The work presented in this book is an invitation to undertake an urgent architectural and political thought experiment: 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; consequently, to rethink the problem of political subjectivity not from the point of view of a Western conception of a liberal citizen but rather from that of the displaced and extraterritorial refugee. You will not find here descriptions of popular uprising, armed resistance, or political negotiations, despite these of course forming an integral and necessary part of any radical political transformation. Instead, the authors present a series of provocative projects that try to imagine “the morning after revolution.”

Located on the edge of the desert in the town of Beit Sahour in Palestine, the architectural collective Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency (DAAR) has since 2007 combined discourse, spatial intervention, collective learning, public meetings, and legal chal­lenges to open an arena for speculating about the seemingly impossible: the actual transformation of Israel’s physical structures of domination. Against an architectural history of decolonization that sought to reuse colonial architecture for the same purpose for which it was originally built, DAAR sees opportunities in a set of playful propositions for the subversion, reuse, profanation, and recycling of these structures of domination and the legal infrastructures that sustain them.

DAAR’s projects should be understood as a series of architectu­ral fables set in different locations: an abandoned military base near Beit Sahour, the refugee camp of Dheisheh in Bethlehem, the remnants of three houses on the Jaffa beach, the uncom­pleted Palestinian Parliament building, the historical village of Battir, the village of Miska destroyed during the Nakba, and the red-­roofed West Bank colony of Jabel Tawil (P’sagot) next to Ramallah-­El Bireh.

http://www.sternberg-press.com/index.php?pageId=1480&l=en&bookId=374&sort=year%20DESC,month%20DESC

Ten thousand wiles and a hundred thousand tricks
Curators: What, How and for Whom/WHW
Organizers: Young Arab Theatre Fund/YATF
October 25, 2013 – February 16, 2014 (M HKA)

The title of the project, Ten thousand wiles and a hundred thousand tricks, is a quote taken from “Wretched of the Earth” (1961) by Franz Fanon, a philosopher and a revolutionary, written as a reflection on the Algerian revolution and entitled after the opening lines of the Internationale, the song of the world workers’ movement. In the aftermath of the shockwaves of popular rebellion reverberating across the Arab world since 2011, Fanon’s book opens up a series of important questions pertaining not only to assessments of popular mobilization in the Arab world and the role of the West in the light of current attempts at stabilization that actually entails keeping dictatorship’s state apparatus in place, but also to popular mobilizations unfolding around the world since the beginning of structural crisis of capitalism. Fanon’s reflections on anti-colonial struggles, his unforgiving analysis of the nature of nationalist movements once in power, assessment of violence, centrality he places on the class struggle, his critique of nationalist movements as based in Westernized notions of proletariat and assertion of urbanized lumpenproletariat as ‘spearhead of the revolutionary movement’, endorsement of international consciousness against exclusiveness of identity politics, and of organizational structures as safeguards against ‘pitfalls of spontaneity’, offer relevant tools that could be fruitfully employed for understanding present constellation.

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Meeting Points is a multidisciplinary contemporary arts festival focused on the contextualized presentation of art from the Arab World. The 7th edition of Meeting Points is a series of successive exhibitions titled “Ten Thousand Wiles and a Hundred Thousand Tricks” and taking place from September 2013 to June 2014 in several cities of Europe, Asia and the Arab world: Zagreb, Antwerp, Hong Kong, Moscow, Beirut, Cairo and Vienna.

Meeting Points 7 started in September 2013 in Gallery Nova in Zagreb, Croatia, where the exhibition included works by Filipa César, Iman Issa, Rajkamal Kahlon, Kayfa ta & Haytham El-Wardany, Maha Maamoun and Jumana Manna.

Further stations of Meeting Points 7, planned for 2014, are: Hong Kong (in partnership with Para Site), Beirut (in partnership with Beirut Art Center), Cairo (in partnership with Contemporary Image Collective), Moscow (in partnership with the V–A–C Foundation and the Presnya Museum) and Vienna (in partnership with Wiener Festwochen).

Participating artists
Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Marwa Arsanios, Kianoush Ayari, Filipa César, Céline Condorelli, Alice Creischer, DAAR, Paul De Vree, Simone Fattal, Robert Filliou, Simohammed Fettaka, Karpo Godina, Sharon Hayes, Adelita Husni-Bey, Iman Issa, Sanja Iveković, Maryam Jafri, Rajkamal Kahlon, Anton Kannemeyer, Kayfa ta & Haytham El-Wardany, Runo Lagomarsino, Maha Maamoun, Jumana Manna, Azzeddine Meddour, Tom Nicholson & Andrew Byrne, Anatoly Osmolovsky, Artavazd Peleshian, Marta Popivoda, Kerim Ragimov, C K Rajan, Alexander Rodchenko, Edgar Morin & Jean Rouch, Luc Tuymans, Mona Vǎtǎmanu & Florin Tudor.

30 October – 1 November, 2013, at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin /Germany

The workshop takes place in the framework of the international, interdisciplinary symposium A Journey of Ideas Across – In Dialogue with Edward Said, 31 October – 2 November, 2013, at HKW.
Organizer: HKW, Berlin/Germany.
Concept and realization: Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti, DAAR (www.decolonizing.ps), Beit Sahour and Campus in Camps (www.campusincamps.ps), Dheisheh Refugee Camp, together with HKW.

In Western political thought, the notion of public space is often associated with a “collective interest”, a “common good”. However, in other cultural contexts, such as in Arab countries, the notion of public space is seen as suspicious. In years of colonial direct domination, the public has never denoted the “collective interest” of the local population; rather it expressed the arrogant, violent and exploitative power of the white European élite. In the name of the public, state colonial authorities expropriated what people shared in common. For instance, the expropriation of land by colonial authorities in the name of the “public interest” shows how the public does not necessary coincide with the common good. The difference between a static and rhetorical notion of public and the inventing and interactive notion of common has been polarized by the obsession of states apparatus with security and control. The overregulation of public spaces expresses the fear of the authorities to see a plaza, a roundabout, a boulevard transformed into a political space able to undermine state authorities.

Unfortunately, most of the Arab regimes that followed independence from colonialism continue to suffocate the very existence of common spaces. Public spaces -instead of expressing freedom, people sovereignty and dignity- turned into the repressive and conservative face of the regime. The neo-liberal waves that invaded the Arab world during the last two decades dismantled any possibility of a public space linked to common unplanned uses.

However, since 2010, the Arab revolts have opened new political directions and possible re-articulations of the public, the common, and the private. These events could be fundamentally interpreted as the will to re-imagine and re-claim the existence of common spaces. The demonstrations in Habib Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis, the occupations of the roundabout in Tahrir square in Cairo, and Pearl roundabout in Manama are only a glimpse into a more profound struggle for the common political spaces in the Arab world.

Revolts
During the weeks following the Egyptian revolt that began on January 25, 2011, we observed a public plaza transform into a common space owned by the people themselves. Tahrir Square became the political space where new claims were invented, represented, and translated into political actions. The day after President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down, protesters began cleaning the space, an act that highlighted the end of a regime and the beginning of a possible new era for the Egyptian people. The space was no longer perceived as public—the space of authority—but rather as the space of the people. Owning the space implied owning the future of the country. Cleaning the square was a gesture of re-appropriation, ownership, and care. In fact, this apparently banal act demonstrated a sense of reconstituted community and collective ownership.
The power of people gathering and transforming public space into a constituent common space manifested itself in other places throughout the Arab world. In February 2011, people began assembling around the Pearl Roundabout in Manama, Bahrain, converting the anonymous infrastructure into a political arena. As in Cairo, this roundabout became a constituent assembly capable of undermining the political regime. Consequently, on March 18, local authorities brutally intervened, completely destroying the roundabout. This demonstrates the importance of a physical space where people can assemble and assert their rights—without it, the virtual space of social networks is ineffective.
The ambiguous nature of contemporary public space can also be observed in Western society. During the summer of 2011, a group of protesters tried in vain to assemble and camp out in several public spaces of New York. Paradoxically, their attempts were limited by regulations and curfews imposed on these spaces. Only on September 17 were the protesters able to set up camp in Zuccotti Park, a privately owned public space. This crack between the public and private perhaps represents all that remains of a shared collective space, what we call a common space, nether public nor private.

The aim of the workshop is to expand the reflection on public space beyond these events and exploring ways in which the public and common spaces are shaped and constituted.

We would like to propose a critical understanding of the contemporary notion of the public by re-imagining the notion of the common. Rather than the term “commons,” more familiar in the Anglo-Saxon tradition, we prefer to use “common” in order to refer to its Latin origin communi. The latin communem is composed of com=cum “together “and mòinis, originally meaning “obliged to participate”. This fundamental aspect of the common, a demand for active participation, is also present in the Arabic term al mashaa’, which refers to communal land equally distributed among farmers. This form of “common land use” was not fully recognized under Ottoman laws – for this reason, masha was not acknowledged under a written title in the Ottoman Code – and was dismissed by colonial authorities for its supposed economical inefficiency. Colonial regimes, interested in territorial control, see in masha land a collective dimension beyond state control. Consequently, masha have been transformed into state land and therefore fall under the control of public land managed by state apparatus. Masha is shared land, which was recognized through practice in the Islamic world. It emerged as a combination of Islamic property conceptions and customary practices of communal or tribal land. Masha could only exits if people decided to cultivate the land together. The moment they stop cultivating it, they loose its possession. It is possession through a common use. Thus what appears to be fundamental is that, in order for this category to exist, it must be activated by common uses. Today we may ask if it is possible to reactivate the common cultivation, expanding the meaning of cultivation to other human activities that imply the common taking care of life (cultivation from Latin colere=taking care of life).

The Refugee Camp as Site of Political Invention
Refugee camps are definitely sites where the categories of public and private no longer make sense. Within camps, neither public nor private property exists. After sixty-four years, Palestinian refugees still cannot legally own their houses (though in practice they do) and the camp is a space carved from the territorial state. Though states and non-governmental organizations are actively participating in conceiving and managing camps, we are still struggling to fully comprehend how the camp form has contaminated and radically transformed the very idea of the city as an organized and functional political community. Thus, the birth of the camp calls into question the very idea of the city as a democratic space. If the political representation of a citizen is to be found in public space, in the camp we find its inverse: here, a citizen is stripped of his or her political rights. In this sense, the camp represents a sort of anti-city, but also a potential counter-site in which a new form of urbanism is emerging beyond the idea of the nation-state.

Considering the returns of Palestinian refugees will not only insist on the changing of the political system of Israel and Palestine, but it will also imply the transformation of the entire region. There are almost half a million refugees in Lebanon and Syria, and two million in Jordan. Exploring the present return means also exploring ways in which the figure of the refugee and its associated spatial regime of dislocation reshape the larger geo-political space of the present.

The format of the workshop
The workshop, that will take place at the Haus Der Kulturen der Welt, is centred on practices and conceptualization of common spaces in the Arab World. It will take the form of discussions around the idea of common space including and beyond the places of the Arab Revolts. There will be the participation of young collective, theoreticians, activists, artists and academics. The participants, some invited and some nominated through an open call, will come from the Mediterranean countries. In order to aloud lively and informal discussions, part of the conversations will take place in private and public spaces in Berlin, involving more directly its inhabitants and engage with local community.

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Please submit an abstract not exceeding 500 words (1 page), explaining with what ideas, topics and projects you would like to contribute to the workshop, together with your CV to project assistant Fabian Ledwon, Ledwon@hkw.de by August 17, 2013.
Selected participants will be granted the journey to Berlin and accommodation in Berlin for the duration of the workshop and the symposium. All travel arrangements will be organized by HKW.
Contact:
Haus der Kulturen der Welt John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10 10557 Berlin – Germany
Tel: +49 (0)30 39 787 0
www.hkw.de
Supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and Goethe-Institut as part of the German- Egyptian and German-Tunisian Transformation Partnership.

Call for Participation_Workshop Al-Masha or the Space of the Common_30.10.-1.11.2013_HKW

The Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism is an experiment in global conversation based in the South. Located in Johannesburg, we seek to be a critical node in the re-territorializing of global intellectual production. We are a centre for theoretical work that takes seriously a position in the South while addressing international conversations and problématiques. We take the labour of theory and criticism to be significant political work that is crucial to the experimentation in social forms.

The Session will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa from June 23 to July 2, 2013 under the theme The Life of Forms. The 2013 participants come from various parts of the world, including Latin America, Asia, Europe, the United States and Canada, and the rest of the African Continent.

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Thanks to the generous support of Fondation for Arts Initiatives, we are taking some time to finally write a book centered around DAAR research and architectural projects. The book will be published by sternberg-press by the end of this year.

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Thursday – Friday, March 28-29, 2013
FHI Garage – C105, Bay 4, 1st Floor, Smith Warehouse
Franklin Humanities Institute
Duke University

During the last year a new type of political struggle has emerged in numerous places around the globe, in which activists of all kinds “occupy” public spaces, or turn private spaces public through their “occupation” for relatively long periods of time. “Occupying” has come to designate the main organizing practice of what seems to be a new type of non-governmental politic. It defines a space of action, a form of co-existence and partnership, modes of interaction with governments and media, and a basis for global collaboration. In the occupied spaces citizenship is re-imagined and re-thought, the multitudes emerge in new forms, the system under which they are ruled and governed are questioned with a long forgotten vigor, and power is both sought and challenged in new ways.

However, in this workshop we wish to think the “occupying movement” in relation to the more standard meanings of occupation, both as social role and profession that the market determines and distributes, and as a condition of rule in which the government is not accountable to the ruled population. Demonstrators in the Middle East and elsewhere carried posters saying “Occupy Wall Street, not Palestine”. The contrast is simple and straightforward, but it points to a much more complex field of relation between the visible oppression and subjugation characteristic of Palestine, where military occupation has lasted longer than any existing occupation, and the more subtle interplay of freedom and oppression demonstrated in each and every occupied public (or semi-public) square.

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Posted: 12.12.2012

Wake Forest University 15 e 16 dicembre 2012

Invito-Public-Space