The artistic research practice of DAAR – Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti – is situated between architecture, art, pedagogy and politics. Over the last two decades, they have developed a series of research- projects that are both theoretically ambitious and practically engaged in the struggle for justice and equality. In their artistic research 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.
A series of seminal books accompanied their practice. By reusing, misusing, and redirecting UNESCO World Heritage guidelines and criteria, the book-dossier Refugee Heritage (Art and Theory, Stockholm 2021), challenges dominant definitions of heritage and mainstream narratives, proposing exile instead as a radical perspective that can take us beyond the limitations of the nation-state.
Permanent Temporariness (Art and Theory, Stockholm 2019), is a book-catalog that accounts for 15 years of research and experimentation within and against the condition of Permanent Temporariness.
In Architecture after Revolution (Sternberg Berlin 2013), together with Eyal Weizman they invite the reader 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, presenting a series of projects that try to imagine “the morning after revolution.”
These theoretical speculations have been tested and emerged from architectural interventions in refugee camps. In 2019, the reconstruction of Al Nada social housing after its destruction by the Israeli invasion introduced shared common spaces. In 2015 they built a Concrete Tent in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem as a gathering space for conflict resolutions, alternative pedagogy and celebration. In 2014, the new layout of the Shu’fat School for Girls offered students and teachers the possibility of exploring alternative forms of pedagogies rooted in communities and connected to the land. In 2008, the realization of a square in Fawaar refugee camp promoted women’s rights to the public space.
Architectural interventions have often been connected to the creation of learning environments. In 2012 they founded Campus in Camps, a university in a refugee camp, to connect the site of knowledge production on the campus with the site of social stigmatization, the camp. The formation of informal learning environments has been further developed in the tree school project in different locations: Brazil, Mexico, India, Croatia, Hong Kong, Australia.
Their artist research practice has received the following awards: Golden Lion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale Di Venezia, the Prince Pierre Foundation Prize for artistic research, the Keith Haring Fellowship in Art and Activism at Bard College, the Loeb Fellowship Harvard University, the Price Claus Prize for Architecture.
Sandi Hilal is visiting professor at Lund University, and Alessandro Petti is professor of Architecture and Social Justice at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm.
They have two daughters, Tala and Sama.