Concret Tent in Rabat

On occasion of the inauguration of the Rabat Biennale in September 2019, the Concrete Tent project traveled to Marocco. The first Concrete Tent was built in June 2015 in Dheisheh refugee camp as a gathering space for Campus in Camps participants and social events in the camp such as weddings, conflict resolutions meetings, and informal meeting point for the youth in the camp. The desire to build the concrete tent emerged from Campus in Camps participants wanting to give form and material manifestation of the permanent temporariness of the camp. On occasion of the exhibition Permanent Temporariness at the New York University Abu Dhabi Art Gallery in February 2018, a second Concrete Tent was build at the Abu Dhabi Campus. In this new contest, the Concrete Tent became a gathering space for students and teachers at the campus interested in exploring experimental and egalitarian learning environments. Poetry readings, acting, and performances are taking place during the year. Moreover, the space made possible a public conversation around the permanent temporariness of guest workers in the Emirates.

Al Nada neighborhood reconstruction in Gaza: phase I completed

Seventy-five new units have been assigned to families that had their homes destroyed in the Israeli invasion in 2014. Congratulation to the families that can finally enter their new homes.  Since 2016, when DAAR and studio azue, in collaboration with Al Nada – Al Isba Neighborhood Committee, the Beit Hanoun Municipality, the Joint Service Council for the Northern Area, and the Italian Agency for Development and Cooperation, started the process of designing the community-based master plan, many things have been changed. Receiving overwhelming messages of appreciations from the inhabitants of al Nada is the best reward for the efforts made for one of the most challenging projects that we have ever realized.

Photo documentation via  ابرج الندى – الابراج الايطالية

Construction and Reconstruction 


Reconstruction timeline




2019 Fall seminars and lectures

13-16 September 2019, Berlin
House of Statistics

The House of statistics was built 1968–70 and served as the headquarters of the GDR’s central bureau of statistics. After the reunification, it housed the Federal Statistical Office of Germany and the Stasi Records Agency. Today, the building near Alexanderplatz is a unique project, in which a broad coalition of urban stakeholders define a pioneering location for urban development: 100.000 sqm in the heart of the city will provide space for culture, social projects, education, affordable housing, a new city hall, and administrative buildings. Partecipants: ExRotaprint, MACAO, CATPC, Campus in Camps, Planbude, Nachbarschaftsakademie Prinzessinnengarten, Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center, Chto Delat, ruangrupa.



16 September 2019, Oslo

Architectural anthropology – processes of creativity, participation, and design. Architect and artist Sandi Hilal will be among the presenters. The seminar aims to inspire dialogue and discussions on emerging topics in the cross-section of anthropology and architecture. The event is hosted by the Work Research Institute, Oslo Metropolitan University and The Nordic Research Network for Architectural Anthropology.


15 September 2019, Malmö Konsthall

Opening Speech By Parvin Ardalan; 12.15 pm, “Art Through War” Mariam Haji (online) + Suzi Yaseen Moderated by Salma Afash. The Conversation will be held in Arabic; 1 pm “Colonial Encounters at the Borderlands: Writing and Resistance”; Behrouz Boochani (online) + Hashem Ahmadzadeh + Rahel Weldeab Sebhatu Moderated by Amin Parsa; The Conversation will be held in Farsi/English; 2 pm Theatrical Performance “Roots” by Hadi Mohedin The Performance will be held in Swedish; Perspectives on Memory and Migration by Ashraf Haddad founder of Malmö Multicultural Center The Speech will be held in English; 3 pm “Exclusions”; Michael Rakowitz + Sandi Hilal + Joanna Lombard Moderated by Ana Maria Bermeo. The Conversation will be held in English. Art Exhibition “Mother Tongue”. Honorary Video Art Display – By CANAN + Işıl Eğrikavuk + Nezaket Ekici + Selda Asal + Savas Boyraz + Çağdaş Kahriman + Pınar Öğrenci. Mother Tongue presents seven video artworks that deal in different ways with experiences from today’s Turkey, from a female perspective. The exhibition is curated by Malin Barth and Brynjar Bjerkem for the institutions Foundation 3.14 and TrAP. Art Director and Graphic Designer: Karim Mortada. Coordinator: Mamak Babak-Rad Program Manager and Host: Parvin Ardalan

04 October 2019
University of Basel

Over the course of this day-long workshop, participants from a range of disciplines will analyse and theorize the manifold legacies of fascism and colonialism that endure in the myriad crises that now reverberate across the Mediterranean region in the present. As a particular form of political and social logic which circulates within and contours contemporary debates, policies, and state projects, the workshop will both diagram Mediterranean Fascism(s), but will also aim to locate the resistant practices that suggest the possibility of something otherwise being put into motion. Specifically, the workshop will explore what is the place of art, architecture and material heritage in shaping and inspiring practices of resistance and processes of de-fascistization.
Participants: Heba Amin, Ida Danewid, Emilio Distretti, Beth Hughes, Platon Issaias, Emily Jacir, Léopold Lambert, Ian Alan Paul & Alessandro Petti


4-6 October 2019,
Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art Warsaw

Permanent Temporariness & Looking for a Host
Sandi Hilal, DAAR
On Stones in Conflict
Joanna Rajkowska, Sandi Hilal, Wim Catrysse
Discussion moderated by Anna Ptak
شعب بلا شعر ، شعب مهزوم / A People with no Poetry is a Defeated People
Party with DJset by Timo Tuhkanen, Laboratory
05/10, Saturday
Peasant Resistance, Communal Land, and Settlement — then and now
Salim Tamari, Institute for Palestine Studies
Forms of Resistance in Collectivity and Arts
Jaśmina Wójcik, Jumana Emil Abboud, Mohammad Saleh
Discussion moderated by Dominika Blachnicka-Ciacek
Strategies for the Operation of Cultural Institutions in a Situation of Deficiency: What is the Potential of Culture Institutions Nowadays?
Jarosław Lubiak, U–jazdowski, Juha Huuskonen, HIAP, Khaldun Bashara, RIWAQ, Salim Tamari, Institute for Palestine Studies, Sally Abu Baker, Ramallah Municipality
Discussion moderated by Bogna Świątkowska, Bęc Zmiana Foundation
Fermentation Station: the Table
Performance by Mirna Bamieh, Palestine Hosting Society (registration required)
06/10, Sunday
Urbanity and Biotop. Understanding the logic behind division of the space in Palestine and its influence on society.
Talk by Khaldun Bshara, RIWAQ
Urbanity and Biotop from the artist’s perspective
Ahmad Alaqra, Karolina Grzywnowicz, Wisam Sharabati
Discussion moderated by Simone de Iacobis, Centrala Tasks Force


14 October 2019, Stockholm
Nobel Prize Museum & Stockholm Academic Forum

Stockholm Explorative Talks is a forum with an aim to move beyond habitual patterns and methods. A number of carefully selected scholars from different disciplines and from different universities in Stockholm, will be pushed to challenge themselves and each other to try ideas and problems in a creative way. This year theme is Boundaries


18 October 2019, Vienna
Institute of Architecture – University of Applied Arts

The UNHCR reported that there were 68.5 million displaced people in the world in 2017. The tangible and intangible dimensions of (forced) human displacement are complex. Displacement inscribes itself in a set of interwoven temporal, spatial, social, economic, legal, and cultural variables. Looking at place, space, and displacement in relation to each other, displacement further manifests in a paradox of temporariness and permanence.We want to discuss what the temporal, spatial, and social implications of human displacement are and how they manifest themselves. In a single question: What are the structures of displacement?

Symposium with Alessandro Petti (DAAR), Mario Rizzi, Romola Snyal, Moderator: Isin Önol

28 October 2019, Hong Kong
Asia Art Archive

Permanent Temporariness is a condition forcing people to live as eternal guests. The condition no longer applies only to refugees; as a growing population finds itself living somewhere other than its place of birth. The sense of alienation and non-belonging, job precarity, and the lack of access to public services, all permeate vast sectors of contemporary societies. All of which results in a form of inhabitation where everything becomes temporary, and where political action and social engagement are postponed. Trapped between dreaming of permanency, of becoming full citizens (an illusion for the majority of newcomers), and the disempowered condition of migration and exile, is it possible to imagine a full political life despite the regime of permanent temporariness that limits every decision? Beyond the deprivation of temporariness, or the illusion of permanency, how to aspire to meaningful political action in the present moment?


Permanent Temporariness: book launch and public conversations

Permanent Temporariness is a book, a catalogue, and an archive that accounts for fifteen years of research, experimentation, and creation that are marked by an inner tension and a visionary drive that re-thinks itself through collective engagement. It is the result of the profound desire of its authors, Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti, to look back in connection with the eponymous retrospective exhibition that was inaugurated at the New York University Abu Dhabi Art Gallery and at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven.

This book is organized around fourteen concepts that activate seventeen different projects. Each project is the result of a larger process of collaboration and is accompanied by individual and collective texts and interviews that contextualize and expand the reach of every intervention.

Contributors to projects and texts include Maria Nadotti, Charles Esche, Robert Latham, Salwa Mikdadi, Eyal Weizman, Okwui Enwezor, Munir Fasheh, Grupo Contrafilé, Murad Odeh, and Rana Abughannam. Edited by Maria Nadotti and Nick Axel. The publication of this book has been made possible with the generous support of the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm; New York University Abu Dhabi Art Gallery; Van Abbemuseum; and the Foundation for Arts Initiatives.

You can order the book here

Eindhoven, February 21, 2019, Van Abbemuseum, in conversation with Lieven De Cauter, Nick Axel, Magdalena Malm, Shafiq Kakar, Isshaq Al Barbary, moderated by Charles Esche.

Ramallah, April 13, 2019, AM Qattan Foundation, in conversation with Yazeed Anani 

Paris, May 14, 2019, Institut Suédois, in conversation with Michel Agier and Kader Attia

Lund, March 20, 2019, School of Architecture, in conversation with Per-Johan Dahl

Stockholm, May 28, 2019, ArkDes, in conversation with Walter Mignolo, Marie-Louise Richards, Rahel Shawl, Madina Tlostanova. Introduction by Kieran Long and Sara Arrhenius.

Amsterdam, June 18, 2019, Pakhuis de Zwijger, in conversation with ZUS

Read the conversation with Maria Nadotti

The reconstruction of Al-Nada social housing in Gaza

Reconstruction is often imagined as the counterpoint to destruction. While the two are often seen as opposites, in reality, and particularly that of Gaza, these moments are linked in a cycle. Since 1948, Palestine has been constantly destroyed and reconstructed. In most cases, the effects of reconstruction were more destructive than the destruction itself. At the same time a project of reconstruction reframes power relations and imposes a different kind of space, social structure, and mentality.

What does it mean to reconstruct in a territory that is not only under a blockade, but also faces the imminent threat of yet another war?  Architecture is usually called upon to intervene after conflict. But what role can architecture play during conflict? Is it possible to imagine an architecture that preserves a sense of collectivity in spite of continuous  aggressions?

To think reconstruction means to think of Gaza beyond a military gaze. Reconstruction forces to think about life beyond, or in spite of, war. Reconstruction forces to see things from the ground and from the perspective of the community, rather than from a distance or above. Reconstruction forces to consider longer temporalities of transformations, rather than short-lived events cultivated by the media.

It is within the intersecting force fields of destruction and reconstruction, displacement and return, collaboration and resistance, refugeehood and citizenship, informality and formality, public and private, that in 2016, along with Studioazue, we were commissioned by the Italian Agency for Development and Cooperation to produce a reconstruction plan for Al Nada Neighborhood in close collaboration with the technical team of the Ministry of Public Works and Housing in Gaza. The objective of the project was to rehabilitate the 386 residential units that were partially damaged during the wars, construct 207 additional housing units, and regenerate urban infrastructures and open spaces. The preparation of the community-based master plan involved the Al Nada and Al Isba Neighborhood Committee, the Beit Hanoun Municipality, the Joint Service Council for the Northern Area, local families, and individuals.

The work for the reconstruction has began in January 2019.

full post

SEPARATION | in conversation with Charles Esche

Extract from the book Permanent Temporariness

Alessandro Petti This book is the first time we have really acknowledged the part of our practice that materializes itself as an installation or in an exhibition. Even though our projects can start or end as “art,” we have never fully documented or outwardly reflected upon this process. This book accounts for this important aspect of our work, one which has allowed some of our projects to exist.

Charles Esche What do you mean by the art world allowing your projects to exist?

ap Exhibitions play the role of a catalyst. Having to think about a project’s spatial manifestation gives us a certain autonomy from it, as it initially exists only in a specific site and for a specific community. Especially in the context of Palestine, it is very easy to be trapped in the NGO logic that quantifies success and measures impact statistically. The art world was ambiguous and remote enough for us to use it as a critical platform. Instead of being a self-referential space, for us, the exhibition was always a space for experimentation that could not take place elsewhere.

Sandi Hilal Hannah Arendt, in one of her interviews, said: “when I write, I clarify my ideas through the writing.” For us, more than writing, art exhibitions are occasions for being in conversations, to explore and clarify ideas that are far away from our every- day reality. The conversation is a way to share doubts and explore suspicions.

ce But also the artworks or the installations themselves, no? They also seem to be a way of concretizing some suspicions or ideas you have. The photographs and light- boxes of Refugee Heritage, for instance, give you a certain way to talk about and share your experience of being so closely attached to Dheisheh for so many years.

ap One aspect that might clarify our relation with the exhibition space is that it always creates a space of tension. Since most of our projects are very site-specific, the exhibi- tion is a space of necessary alterity that allows us to clarify our understanding of the projects. This means that we never have the intention to either represent the projects themselves, or simply bring the social practice inside the museum. We are not interested in translating our work into exhibitions. For example, Fawwar Square took eight years of community participation to make. We don’t find it interesting to rep- resent or mimic this process in the museum. What is at stake for us in exhibitions is the ability to continue our explorations in different ways. We are not interested in institutional critique, as it tends to merely perpetuate the cultural hegemony of the modernist white cube. If we look at the museum from an architectural perspective, however, we could ask ourselves how to reuse the white cube of the museum for aims different from those it was design for. This speculative approach opens a much more constructive way to engage with it that is not only critical, but also engages in an ongoing process of its transformation.

continue reading here

videos and pictures Van Abbemuseum exhibition


September 1st, 2018

Located between the domestic and the public sphere, Al-Madhafah, in Arabic, is the living room dedicated to hospitality. It has the potential to subvert the role of guest and host and give a different socio-political meaning to the act of hospitality. It seeks to mobilize the condition of permanent temporariness as an architectural and political concept able to challenge the binaries of inclusion and exclusion, public and private, guest and host. It activates the rights of temporary people to host and not to be eternally a guest, the right to claim life in the new destination but without feeling obliged to revoke the desire to belong to the life back home

Al Madhafah the living room is a project created by Sandi Hilal, based on her experience conducting fieldwork for the Public Art Agency Sweden with refugees in the city of Boden, Sweden, in November 2016. Boden is a former military town located in northern Sweden, 80 kilometers from the arctic circle. From being a military town, it has now become an important reception center for asylum seekers. The project is inspired by a story about a Syrian refugee couple Yasmeen and Ibrahim, who had moved to Boden from Syria two years previously, and drew on the tradition of hospitality, never accepting that they should give up their right to be hosts in their new home. They continued what was an important part of their life in Syria, opening up their living room to host both Swedes and others. The living room, when opening itself to host the stranger guest, functions as a self-representational space, that has the potential to subvert the role of guest and host and give a different socio-political meaning to the act of hospitality. The possibility of hosting had become, for them, a way to regain access to their lost personal and collective history, combining their lost life in Syria with their new life in Sweden. By exercising their right of hosting and activating their living room, Yasmeen and Ibrahim no longer felt themselves to be statistics, passive guests in Sweden but to be owners of their own story.

Over the past two years, the Public Art Agency Sweden, Bodenbo, Havremagasinet and the Defense Museum Boden have collaborated with the architect Sandi Hilal and  Yasmeen Mahmoud and Ibrahim Muhammad Haj Abdullah in the Al Madhafah / Living Room art project. With common forces, a local living room has been created, a place where conversation, cooking, and learning become art and the exchange of knowledge. Al Madhafah / The Living Room in the Yellow House at Prästholmen is a work of art, but also a living room open to those who want to host new encounters.

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.

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. A network of various living rooms activated simultaneously in five different locations:  the house of Yasmine and Ibrahim (1)  and The Yellow House in Boden supported by the Public Art Agency Sweden (2),  ArkDes Museum in Stockholm (3)  Fawwar refugee camp in south of the West Bank (4),  and in the  living room of Sandi and Alessandro in Stockholm supported by the Arab Fund for Art and Culture (AFAC) (5). The five spaces interact, inspire, and feed each constantly.

Al Madhafah / The Living Room in Boden is included in Art Happens:
Art Happens (2016-2018) is part of the Swedish government initiative Äga rum, where the Public Art Agency Sweden was commissioned to produce examples of public art in the million program. After a long selection process, 15 areas were selected for implementation. Read more about Art Happens at

Al Madhafah/The Living Room at LUMA (round table discussion) and ArkDes (exhibition)

Hospitality: Searching for Common Ground (14.–19.05.2018)

Hospitality, involves committing oneself to rigorous ethical behaviour. It’s a real commitment, a responsibility. From the host to the hostage, from hospitality to hostility… Jacques Derrida’s in-depth analysis of the political uses and abuses of ideal hospitality leads him to suggest that political action should take place in the space between ethics and politics. Using the framework of the Host, the Guest, the Table, this day will unfold with a series of short presentations and round table discussions, arranged and moderated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Paul B. Preciado, with Daniel Birnbaum. 

May, 18 (15.30–16.30)
Moderated by Paul B. Preciado
Elsa Dorlin, Professor, Political and Social Philosopher
Sandi Hilal, Artist
Anjalika Sagar, Artist


Public Luxury, ArkDes Stockholm (1 June 2018 – 13 January 2019)
Public Luxury is an exhibition about architecture, design and the struggle for public life. Large-scale commissions, installations and projects inside and outside of the museum will give visitors an insight into the struggles and successes of design as it faces many of the challenges currently facing Sweden. The title Public Luxury sounds like a contradiction, but recognizes that everything in the public realm exists for more than merely functional reasons. Every kerbstone, bench, bollard, station sign, public toilet and street is part of the character and identity of a place. All the works in Public Luxury, many of which were made for the exhibition, share the ambition to tell a story about public life today. Architects and designers may not be able to change society, but nothing reveals how society is changing as clearly as architecture and design.

Participants include Dansbana (Anna Pang, Anna Fridolin and Teres Selberg), Jonas Dahlberg, Sandi Hilal/DAAR, Johan Celsing, Hilda Hellström, Johannes Norlander, Åsa Jungnelius and Uglycute, among others.



Permanent Temporariness in Abu Dhabi




Permanent Temporariness
Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti
February 24 – June 9th, 2018
New York University Abu Dhabi Art Gallery
Co-curated by Salwa Mikdadi and Bana Kattan

Refugee Heritage

A series of photo light-boxes, shown for the first time at New York University Abu Dhabi, make up part of the dossier nomination of Dheisheh Refugee Camp as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  In 2016, Hilal and Petti commissioned the Italian photographer Luca Capuano, the same photographer whom UNESCO had commissioned to document forty- four sites in Italy inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. He was asked to document Dheisheh Refugee Camp with the same respect, care, and search for monumentality used when photographing historical centers like Venice or Rome.  The artists start from an understanding that refugee camps are places rich with stories narrated through the urban fabric. Historically, refugee camps have been dismissed by states, non-governmental organizations and by refugee communities themselves, in fear that the recognition of these histories of exile could undermine the refugees’ right of return to their home country. For over two years the implications for Dheisheh’s UNESCO nomination were discussed by organizations and individuals, politicians and conservation experts, activists, governmental and non-governmental representatives, and proximate residents. Members of the camps expressed strong concerns that the nomination would change the status quo, in addition to undermining their legal right of return. Still, they expressed their desire to see refugee history acknowledged, and to bring the right of return discussion back to the center of the political debate. The end goal of the project is not UNESCO’s approval, but to start a needed conversation about the permanent temporariness of camps, and the connection between rights and space.  Capuano’s eighteen life-sized photos on lightboxes make up an alley-like path to mimic the encounters and blockades one discovers while walking in the camp. The artists have included one image taken in Italy from Capuano’s UNESCO project, encouraging the visitor to consider the aesthetic values as well as the similarities and differences between the informality of historical towns and refugee camps.

Refugee Heritage is a project by DAAR: Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti in collaboration with Sandy Rishmawi, Elsa Koehler, Isshaq Al Barbary, Mais Musleh. It was produced in consultation with Campus in Camps, Dheisheh Camp Popular Committee, Finiq Cultural Center, Ibdaa Cultural Center, Riwaq Center for Architectural Conservation and Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation in Bethlehem. Special thanks to the Odah and Al Sai families. The Foundation for Art Initiatives and the 5th Riwaq Biennial provided the initial support for the development of Refugee Heritage. The light-box installation is commissioned by NYU Abu Dhabi. The Refugee Heritage project was first presented in 2016 as text in e-flux’s publishing web platform 


Al Madhafah/The Living Room

Al Madhafah the living room is a new performance created by Sandi Hilal, based on her experience conducting fieldwork for the Public Art Agency with Syrian refugees in the city of Boden, Sweden, in November 2016. The performance is inspired by a story about a Syrian refugee couple, Yasmeen and Ibrahim, and the importance of their living room to their welfare in a refugee camp. Yasmeen and her family intend for their Syrian living room in Sweden to become a space where diverse people can gather. The act of hosting enables them to go beyond being passive guests of a refugee camp, to become active hosts. In this powerful claim to what Hilal calls “the right to host,” the living room opens the possibility for refugees like Yasmeen and Ibrahim to combine their lost life in Syria with their new life in Sweden. Hilal further explains the significance of the living room saying: In Arab culture, the living room is the part of the house that opens itself to guests, foreigners, or outsiders. It functions as a transitional space and a passage between the domestic and the public. The living room is always ready to host unexpected guests. It is the most ornamented section of the house, never in disorder, and often prepared with fruit, nuts, or black coffee ready to be offered to guests that might surprise the residents at any time. Notably, even in refugee camps, where space is extremely scarce, the living room remains the most important part of the house, representing a digni ed place regard- less of the precarious condition of the rest of the house. Paradoxically, it is likely to be the space that is least used yet most symbolic, curated, and taken care of. In a foreign country, access to public space is a challenge for refugees as they are expected to constantly perform the role of the “perfect guest” in order to be accepted. Turning private spaces, such as the living room, into social and political arenas, is often a response to a limitation of political agency in the public realm. The performance will take place during the exhibition’s opening week, whereby Hilal (a temporary guest herself at New York University Abu Dhabi) will host invited visitors at her apartment space on campus.

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. A network of various living rooms are activated in Boden, Sweden with support from the Public Art Agency Sweden, and in Stockholm by the Arab Fund for Art and Culture (AFAC), and in Fawwar Refugee Camp in the West Bank.


The Concrete Tent

This installation takes the form of the temporary refugee tent, but is solidified in concrete: it embodies the paradox of permanent temporariness. Located on the threshold of the campus border (behind the university’s East Cafeteria) it welcomes visitors and gatherings from both worlds. The artists originally conceived and built this installation in the Dheisheh refugee camp, south of Bethlehem, as a gathering space for Campus in Camps, an experimental pedagogical program that Hilal and Petti founded in 2012. Today The Concrete Tent in Dheisheh refugee camp is used by youth as a meeting point, negotiators from the camp use it for peace resolution meetings among families, social and cultural events take place there, and newlyweds have found the tent to be a good place for taking their wedding pictures. For Hilal and Petti, the re-creation of a tent made of concrete is not only an attempt to preserve the cultural and symbolic importance of this archetype for the narration of the Nakba (the expulsion of Palestinians from their communities in 1948), but is also a way to reframe the urgency of the right of return. Palestinian refugee camps, after more than seven decades of existence, are no longer made of fragile structures, they are complex urban and social environments that challenge the common notion of what constitutes a refugee camp. The Concrete Tent enables the viewer to experience this paradox of permanent temporariness and reflect upon the present political condition of exile for so many populations. At New York University Abu Dhabi, The Concrete Tent speaks to the permanent temporariness of the newfound home of our campus for our students. It is also relevant to the many long-term residents of the city of Abu Dhabi and to the transient nature of the traditional Bedouin culture of the UAE.

The Concrete Tent is a project by DAAR: Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti with architects and artists-in-residence Haneen Abo Khiran, Lucia Disluci, Nathan Witt, Dalia Abu Hashish, Lucia Maffei, Margo Van Den Berge, Eduardo Cassina, Liva Dudareva, Arne Carpentier, Nick Axel, and Jacob Burns. This project was born out from the conversations with Campus in Camps’ participants: Marwa Allaham, Qussay Abu Aker, Alaa Al Homouz, Saleh Khannah, Shadi Ramadan, Ahmad Lahham, Aysar Dawoud, Bisan Al Jaffarri, Nedaa Hamouz, Naba Al Assi, Mohammed Abu Alia, Ibrahim Jawabreh, Ayat Al Turshan, Murad Owdah, Mohamad Al Saifi, Yazan Al Jo’aidi, Hussam Al Masri, Muhammad Al Lahham, Dyala Fararja, Adam Fararja, Naseem, Zakoot, Tariq Ramadan, Bara’a Alian, Reem Ramadan, Basil Al Lahham, Tala Ramadan, Bara’a Abed Al Nabi, Wijdan Naif, Ghazal Al Masri, Dana Ramadan, Khalil Albana, and Abed Zahran. The Dheisheh edition of The Concrete Tent was supported by a grant from the Prince Claus Fund. Photo: Anna Sara for Campus in Camps


Common Assembly

The Common Assembly installation refers to the borderline that runs through a building that was originally designed to house the Palestinian Parliament. Today, the building – never completed – stands on the property of Al Quds University in Abu-Dis, a suburb of Jerusalem. The abandoned structure is a relic of the euphoria of the post-Oslo Accord (1993), which promised the establishment of a Palestinian State with the status of East Jerusalem postponed. The subsequent failure of the Oslo Accord to reach a peaceful settlement led to the second Intifada “uprising” followed by the construction of the separation wall a few meters from the building. This led to the abandonment of the Palestinian Parliament building project. Common Assembly was inspired by the discovery that the Israeli-imposed Jerusalem border line passes through the building, hence the building sits on three political zones: Israel expropriated territory, Palestinian-controlled territory, and a narrow strip the width of which is the thickness of the border line as drawn on the map. In 2011, DAAR was granted access to the building. The artists had noted how people marked the re-appropriation of the public spaces by the act of cleaning, during the Arab Spring. Inspired by this re-appropriation, the artists re-enacted history by cleaning the dust covering the border line in the parliament building. The video recording of this reenactment is on display in the gallery. Traversing the length of the gallery, Common Assembly is a reproduction of the exact width of the border line inside the Parliament building along with the bare concrete stepping platforms it crosses. Video interviews with Palestinians living in Palestine and in exile surround Common Assembly. DAAR describe these lines of colonial separations as “territorial cracks” that could potentially be inhabited and that, “it is possible to start seeing in these spaces the coming together of a community beyond the nation-state.” It is within this state of limbo or ‘permanent temporariness’ that DAAR invites the viewer to consider the potential for alternative forms of political participation and action for exiled communities. Common Assembly raises critical questions regarding the political participation of a dispersed population as well as the tradition of active engagement in the Common as Masha’ and its extraterritorial common interpretation within the refugee camps. There, the “common” is the shared history of displacement in the absence of private property. In distinction from the state-controlled private and public, for Palestinians, private ownership is constantly challenged and the collective land is owned by the occupying state.

Common Assembly is a project by DAAR: Alessandro Petti, Sandi Hilal, Eyal Weizman with Nicola Perugini and in collaboration with Yazeed Anani, Nishat Awan, Ghassan Bannoura, Benoit Burquel, Suzy Harris- Brandts, Runa Johannssen, Cressida Kocienski, Lejla Odobasic, Carina Ottino, Elizabeth Paden, Sameena Sitabkhan, and Amy Zion. Special thanks to Ghiath Nasser. Common Assembly was presented for the first time in 2011 at The Centre d’art in Neuchâtel, and later in 2012 at Nottingham Contemporary, and at The James Gallery, City University of New York, in 2015 The Asia Art Biennial in Taiwan, and in 2016 at BAK in Utrecht.


Mujawara/The Tree School

The Tree School or Mujawara, which means “neighbourliness,” is both an installation and a pedagogical artistic practice. It is based on the artists’ initiative for the decolonization of learning, where participants gather around the tree for experiential, communal learning. All participants contribute to learning in a non-hierarchical common space that encourages free and critical discourse among participants. Mujawara is based on the principles of Campus in Camps, an experimental university that Hilal and Petti established in Dheisheh Refugee Camp, Bethlehem in 2012. The practice integrates institutionalised forms of knowledge production with the marginalised forms of knowledge that are rooted in the living experience of communities, thus, blurring the distinction between theory and practice. Based on long-term engagements, site visits, and shared research, the participants contribute to a “collective dictionary” of critical essays on key words selected by participants related to their environment and daily life in the refugee camp. Mujawara was originally initiated by Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti together with Brazilian-based art collective Grupo Contrafilé as part of the 31st Biennial de São Paulo, Brazil (2015). The book placed on each seat under the tree is the product of a collaborative effort made by the Quilombola, the freed descendants of Afro-Brazilian slaves, and refugee communities (the book is also presented in Arabic at NYUAD). The project draws on analogies and differences between Palestinian refugee camps and the Brazilian “quilombo,” commu- nities established by run-away slaves in 17th-century colonial Brazil, that today encompass large areas that are spaces of refuge for the disenfranchised. The collaboration initiated a South-to-South dialogue, rarely witnessed at this level. Mujawara in Brazil brought together two worlds that share concerns around social justice and equality. The dialogue that followed examined relationships between land, exile and community. Mujawara is an on-going program that continues to seek new modalities for learning. In Brazil the participants gathered around the Baobab tree (one of the world’s oldest tree brought to Brazil from Africa). For the NYU Abu Dhabi exhibition, the artists selected the Ghaf tree, an indigenous tree in the UAE, often considered the national tree of the Emirates, as a symbol for the tree of knowledge. NYUAD students will gather around the Ghaf tree to participate in this innovative community learning; sharing knowledge through personal and group experience.

Mujawara is a project by Sandi Hilal, Alessandro Petti, and Grupo Contrafilé. The project was first exhibited in 2014, on the occasion of the 31st Biennial de São Paulo a second iteration in 2015, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in Porto, and in 2017, Sharjah Biennial Act II, Beirut. Mujawara book credits: Campus in Campus: Sandi Hilal, Alessandro Petti, Ahmad Al Lahham, Isshaq Issa Barbary, David Kostenwein, Daniela Sanjinés. Grupo Contrafilé.: Cibele Lucena, Jerusa Messina, Joana Zatz Mussi, Peetssa, Rafael Leona, with Walter Solon. With the contribution of: Arthur de Oliveira Neto, Deysi Ferreira, Eugênio Lima, Floriana Breyer, Geandre Tomazoni, Giuliana Racco, Joelson F. de Oliveira, Lia Zatz, Pedro Cesarino, Shourideh Molavi, Solange Brito Santos, TC Silva. The first iteration of Mujawara was made possible in part by the Foundation for Arts Initiatives. 


Ramallah Syndrome

Ramallah Syndrome invites the viewer to reflect on the failure of the peace agreements to create a long-term resolution for the Palestinians, as they continue to dream of a normal existence, an unattainable condition under military occupation. In this work, the artists point to the delusion of the potentiality of establishing a Palestinian sovereign state under the Israeli colonial regime, a ‘hallucination of normality.’ Ramallah Syndrome is the result of a series of informal discussions that artists had with friends and invited guests, among them curators, architects, artists, and ordinary citizens, to examine the rise of Ramallah and not Jerusalem as the de facto capital of a future Palestinian State. The debate examines the consequences of the perpetual presence of a colonial regime in Palestine accompanied by the fantasy of the possible coexistence of occupation and freedom. In the process, the debate revealed the underpinnings of the “Ramallah syndrome”: the normalization of occupation, normalization of an abnormal state of suffering, house demolitions, displacement and the confiscation of Palestinian land for the expansion of Israeli settlements. Conditions in the Palestinian territories are such that people are forced to live day-to-day. The sound installation, produced in collaboration with the artists Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abourahme, captured and reworked these discus- sions picking up snippets of the conversations and mixing them with ambient and electronic music. Visitors entering the dark, padded room are forced to concentrate on ten-minutes of audio, as if eavesdrop- ping on a heated conversation that is communicated to the listener in interrupted sequences highlighting several interlocutors’ speeches. This audio composition creates a multiplicity that is the nature of the debate itself. Sentences are interrupted with sound from engines of a tractor, or heart-beats mixed with music. The visitors need to concentrate in order to piece together the words to listen to the opposing opinions on the political situation, which remains relevant today for Ramallah as well as other cities. Hilal and Petti envisioned the art of conversation as a space that continues to expand indefinitely, offering the public and the participants a discourse on the ‘potentiality’ to an imposed situation.

Ramallah Syndrome was initiated by Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti in collaboration with Nasser Abourahme, Yazeed Anani, Reem Fadda, Yazan Khalili, Laura Ribeiro, and Omar Jabary-Salamanca. The sound Installation is by Ruanne Abou-Rahme and Basel Abbas. Ramallah Syndrome was first commissioned by Palestine c/o Venice for the first Palestinian exhibition at the Venice Biennial (the 53rd edition, 2009), curated by Salwa Mikdadi. Different iterations of the project took place in 2009 for the Jerusalem Show and in 2010 for the Cities exhibition in Ramallah organised by the Birzeit University Museum.


The Book of Exile

The Book of Exile presents assembled stories of refugee life in Palestinian camps since the Nakba in 1948. The visitor is invited to the library of New York University Abu Dhabi to witness a scribe/calligrapher copying this book, thus upholding the long held tradition of preserving and communicating knowledge from the Arab and Islamic civilizations to the rest of the world. The texts contained in the book were authored by multiple participants, including residents of the Dheisheh, Arroub, Ayda, Beit Jebrin, and Fawwar refugee camps in occupied Palestine. The stories of exile derive from everyday experience, observations, and interactions within the refugee community. The book depicts the camp as a distinctive site of knowledge production, a source of social and political inventions, and spatial reconfigurations, in contrast to the stereotypes that have long described refugee camps as sites of poverty and repression. These stories express the vital culture that has emerged in exile in spite of the population’s suffering and deprivation. The Book of Exile also asserts the refusal of refugees to be victims of stereotypes and allows them to claim their right to make and write their history.

The Book of Exile is a project by Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti with texts by Campus in Camps participants Marwa Allaham, Qussay Abu Aker, Alaa Al Homouz, Saleh Khannah, Shadi Ramadan, Ahmad Lahham, Aysar Dawoud, Bisan Al Jaffarri, Nedaa Hamouz, Naba Al Assi, Mohammed Abu Alia, Ibrahim Jawabreh, Ayat Al Turshan, Murad Owdah, and Munir Fashi. The first book was produced in 2016 on the occasion of the 6th edition of the Marrakech Biennial by the calligrapher Abdelghani Ouida, and reenacted by the Palestinian calligrapher Saher Kabi for Qalandiya International 2016. For this exhibition, the calligrapher Mohamed bin Yehya will be present in the NYUAD Library for a limited period until the book is complete.


استمع لشرح عن الأعمال الفنية من الفنانين:تراث اللاجئين 

التجمع العام 

مجاورة/مدرسة الشجرة 

متلازمة رام الله 

المضافة/غرفة المعيشة 

كتاب المنفى 

الخيمة الاسمنتية 

the national

Al Roeya

video interviews 

Al Hayat

Emarat Al Youm 

Al Ittihad

Al Bayan

Al Khaleej

Al Youm Al 7


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