VENICE, ITALY – MAY 20, 2023: DAAR – Alessandro Petti e Sandi Hilal has been awarded the Golden Lion for Best Participation at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, for their long-standing commitment to deep political engagement with architectural and learning practices of decolonization in Palestine and Europe.
At this time of celebrations and abundance, so strictly different from many difficult moments in which we swam against the tide, we are full of gratitude to all the people with whom we collaborate and build friendships. Taking the risk of producing an incomplete list, we want nevertheless to try to acknowledge the fundamental role that collaborations, relationships, and friendship played in shaping not only collective projects but also our intellectual, emotional, and spiritual trajectory and making this world more inhabitable.
We would like to express our appreciation to the municipality of Carlentini in Sicily, in particular to Salvatore Larosa, that took seriously and courageously our challenging question: how to reuse colonial fascist architecture? It has been a pure pleasure to work with Emilio Distretti, Sara Pellegrini, Matteo Lucchetti, Husam Abusalem, and Pietro Onofri. A special thanks go to the generous support received by the Italian Council, La Loge in Brussels, the Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, Madre Museum in Naples, and the municipality of Albissola Marina, and to the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm.
This latest chapter in our life could not have been possible without the inspiration, dialog, and collective work with: Walter Mignolo and Charles Esche with whom we share the common urgency to open an internal front of decolonization in Europe, to Eyal Weizman, with whom we created the first nucleus of what has become DAAR, to Salwa Makdadi, Galit Eilat, WHW, Rasha Salti, Ozge Ersoy, Nada Raza, Nora Razian, Antoine Schweitzer, Yazeed Anani and Reem Fadda for creating connections and contexts for creation; to Munir Fasheh who taught us how to give value to different forms of knowledge production, to Marie-Louise Richards, Tatiana Pinto, Roberta Burchardt and Hannah Clarkson for sharing the difficult task of creating meaningful learning environments; to Shahram Khosravi that made us feel at home in exile; to Magnus Ericson that has opened the doors to unconventional artistic practices; to Thomas Keenan, for his rare human and intellectual generosity; to Diego Segatto for always being present in fundamental transformations; to Jutith Wielander and Luigi Coppola for cultivating common dreams, to Pelin Tan, Ilana Fieldman, Elena Isayev, Shourideh Molavi for their friendship and collaboration, to Giorgio Agamben, Achille Mbembe, and W. J. T. Mitchell for their words of support that have warmed our souls in difficult moments.
Our gratitude goes to old friends with whom we shared our studies in Italy: Chiara Buffa, Giovanni Maggino, Andrea Petrecca, Francesco Brancati, Michele Brunello, Donatello De Mattia Antonella Diana, Antonio Scarponi, Matteo Ghidoni, Luca Racchini, Pietro Onofri, Diego Segatto, Francesca Recchia, and art way of thinking; to Stefano Boeri, for offering extraordinary possibilities of intellectual growth; to Bernardo Secchi and Giuseppe Longhi for the critical space provided during our respective theses; and to Luisa Morgantini and Silvia Macchi for supporting Sandi in her first years in Italy.
For the realization of Stateless Nation, we would like to thank Francesco Bonami for believing in us at the very early stage of our collective practice, Lanfranco Binni, Regione Toscana Porto Franco, and Vera Tamari, and the people that we met during our research: Khaled Hourani, Sari Hanafi, Ruba Saleh, Salman Natur, Rula Jebraen, Mustafa Barghouthi, Salman Natur, Suad Amiry, Omar Yussef, Hasan Karmi, Zakaria Mohammed, Ezz Aldin Almanasra, and Ala Hlehel. For the realization of The Road Map we would like to thank Multiplicity (Stefano Boeri, Maddalena Bregani, Maki Gherzi, Matteo Ghidoni, Anniina Koivu, Francesca Recchia, Eduardo Staszowsky), and in particular Salvatore “Taysir” Porcaro. Sandi would like to thank the amazing people with whom she collaborated when working at UNRWA: Muna Budeiri, Issam Mikdadi, and Philipp Misselwitz, who created the possibility for the Infrastructure and Camp Improvement Program at UNRWA to exist; Thomas White, the former deputy director of UNRWA in the West Bank who believed in the work and made it possible to never stop dreaming in a place like UNRWA. Sandi is also grateful to all the people who worked with her on a daily basis: Livia Minoja, with whom we spent a year designing the Shu’fat Girls’ School; Daniela Sanjines, for being a great friend and collaborator; Salam Sahoury for providing great assistance in all fields; David Kostenwein, Sami Al-Torshan, Hatem Joulani, Aziza Ghazaleh, Osama Jafari, and Sami Murra for simply being a great team. A very special thanks to all community members of Fawwar, Arroub, and Dheisheh refugee camps with whom we spent a lot of time negotiating, fighting, and dreaming.
We would like to thank all the participants of the DAAR projects and residencies: Barbara Modolo, Armina Pilav, Rana Shakaa, Manuel Singer, Alessandro Zorzetto, Roberto Sartor, Allegra Martin, Situ Studio, Mario Abruzzese, Jiries Boullata, Francesca Vargiu, Francesco Mattuzzi, Merlin Eayrs, Marco Cerati, Silvia Columbo, Elodie Doukhan, Chloe Athanasopoulou, Sebastiaan Loosen, Ahmad Barclay, Marcella Rafaniello, Maria Rocco, Mahdi Sabbagh, Bert Ruelens, Nina Kolowratnik, Salottobuono, Tashy Endres, Nicola Perugini, Sean Murphy, Marco Cerati, Ahmad Barclay, Amina Bech, Merlin Eayrs, Sebastiaan Loosen, Marcella Rafaniello, Maria Rocco, Mahdi Sabbagh, Bert Ruelens, Nina Valerie Kolowratnik, Nishat Awan, Ghassan Bannoura, Benoit Burquel, Suzy Harris-Brandts, Runa Johannssen, Cressida Kocienski, Lejla Odobasic, Carina Ottino, Elizabeth Paden, Sameena Sitabkhan, Amy Zion, Ghiath Nasser, Haneen Abo Khiran, Nick Axel, Jacob Burns, Arne Carpenter, Eduardo Cassina, Liva Dudareva, Nathan Witt, Dalia Abu Hashish, Lucia Maffei, Margo Van Den Berge, Sandy Rishmawi, Elsa Koehler, Isshaq Al Barbary, Mais Musleh, Luca Capuano and Carlo Favero,Vittoria Capresi, Emilio Distretti, Piergiorgio Massaretti, and Lorenzo Pezzani.
We are particularly grateful for the time spent with the Campus in Camps participants in Dheisheh Refugee Camp, who taught us so much: Qussay Abu Aker, Alaa Al Homouz, Saleh Khannah, Ahmad Al Lahham, Aysar Al Saifi, Bisan Al Jaffarri, Nedaa Hamouz, Naba’ Al Assi, Isshaq Al Barbary, Ayat Al Turshan, and Murad Odeh. The program could not have existed without the project activators: Brave New Alps, Matteo Guidi, and Giuliana Racco. Sara Pellegrini and Diego Segatto in particular contributed immensely in different moments of the program. Great inspiration was derived from dialogues and active engagements with Michel Agier, Ilana Feldman, Tareq Hamam, Ruba Saleh, Khaldun Bshara, Thomas Keenan, Ayman Khalifa, and Munir Fasheh, as well as the Campus in Camps team, Yasser Hemadan, Tamara Abu Laban, Ala Juma, and Dena Qaddumi, without whom the program could not have existed.
We would like to thank all the friends who took part in Ramallah Syndrome discussions: Yazeed Anani, Nasser Abourahme, Laura Ribeiro, Reem Fadda, Munir Fasheh, Omar Jabary-Salamanca, Yazan Khalili, Basel Abbas, Ruanne Abourahme, Manal Issa, and Wafa’ Abdelrahman. Thank you Galit for making the connection with Grupo Contrafilé, without which The Tree School would not have been possible. TC Silva, Deysi Ferreira, Eugênio Lima, Pedro Cesarino, and Solange Brito Santos were the amazing guests at Bahia tree school. For Al Nada Social Housing in Gaza, we would like to thank Studioazue, Valentina Resente, and Federico De Nardo, who initiated the project, and the contribution from architects Riccardo Maroso and Gador Luque.
For the Al Madhafeh/The Living Room project, we would like to thank Yasmeen Mahmoud, Ibrahim Muhammad Haj Abdulla, Munir Fasheh, Ayat Alturshan and Ana Naomi De Sousa and the Public Art Agency Sweden—especially Magdalena Malm who believed in the project from the very beginning, and Joanna Zawieja, Marti Manen, and Lena From for accompanying the project and for providing their thoughts and amazing collaboration. Special thanks to the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture for supporting the project. We are grateful to the Foundation for Arts Initiatives, which has provided the necessary resources and conditions in crucial moments for our projects and structures to exist.
None of this would have been possible without the unconditional care received from our families, who provided the essential emotional and logistical support for our practice and life in common.
This award is a recognition that extends beyond just our specific work to encompass a broader community of individuals and collectives who are involved in unorthodox, undisciplined, and engaged experimental practices at the intersection of art, architecture, education, politics, and society.