In June we will continue our series of decolonial assemblies with all the people that feel the urgency to question modernist, colonial and fascist heritage, and continue to learn from different contexts and build alliances.
Besides the ongoing interventions in Borgo Rizza in Sicily, we continue our collective research by using the art installation “Ente di Decolonizzazione – Borgo Rizza”, consisting of the reproduction of the facade of the former entity of colonization of Sicilian latifundium, with a series of decolonial assemblies.
This latest activation will take place at the Museo delle Civilta´. The Museum of Civilizations has started a process of progressive yet radical revision that aims at questioning and rewriting its history, its institutional ideology, and its research and pedagogical methods.
The first activation of the “Ente di Decolonizzazione – Borgo Rizza” took place in May at the Mostra d’Oltremare in Napoli, which first opened in 1940. Conceived as a colossal exhibition to display the territories and people overseas in areas colonized by the fascist regime, it closed only 40 days after its opening, when Italy entered the Second World War. It has since had many temporary uses, from hosting refugees to a vaccination center. The second activation of “Ente di Decolonizzazione – Borgo Rizza” took place at Hansa Quarter, in west Berlin built in 1957 for the International Building Exhibition (Interbau). We were interested in exploring here how modernist architecture was deployed for the representation of a democratic Germany. The third activation took place in Brussels with groups and individuals working on decolonizing public spaces in the city.
Join us and take part in the activation of the installation in Roma at Museo delle Civilta´
June 8 and June 15 from 3pm to 6pm
for booking and more info write to
June 7, 5-6pm
Lecture, Festival delle periferie– Pelanda | Mattatoio, Teatro 1
ALESSANDRO PETTI | VERSO UN ENTE DI DECOLONIZZAZIONE
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.
Refuge is a temporary state caused by wars, climate change and social, economic and political crises. But what happens when a temporary situation becomes permanent? In recent years, the Permanent Temporariness condition imposed on refugees forced to live in refugee camps has spread to underprivileged sections of society, from precarious workers to immigrants and students. Reflecting on the displacement of Palestinian refugees and the plight of illegalized migrants in Europe, with our guests we will speculate on how to act within and against the state of permanent temporariness to challenge the status quo. With: Hayfaa Chalabi, Shafiq Kafar, Sarri Elfaitouri, Sharham Khosravi, Shafiq Omar Kakar.
The programme entails 5 sessions interrupted and connected by music, food, and group discussions
Session I Refugee Heritage
Refugee camps are established with the intention of being demolished. As a paradigmatic representation of political failure, they are meant to have no history and no future; they are meant to be forgotten. The history of refugee camps is constantly being erased and dismissed by states, humanitarian organizations, international agencies and even by refugee communities themselves, who fear that any acknowledgment of the present condition in the camp may undermine their right of return to their place of origin. The only history that is recognized is one of violence and humiliation. Yet the camp is also a place rich with stories, narrated through its urban fabric.
In tracing, documenting, revealing and representing refugee history beyond the narrative of suffering and displacement, Refugee Heritage is an attempt to imagine and practice ‘refugeeness’ beyond humanitarianism. Such a process requires not only rethinking the refugee camp as a political space: it calls for redefining the refugee as a subject in exile and understanding exile as a contemporary political practice that is capable of challenging the status quo. The recognition of “the heritage of a culture of exile” constitutes a new perspective from which social, spatial and political structures can be imagined and experienced, beyond the idea of the nation-state.
Host: Alessandro Petti is a professor of Architecture and Social Justice at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm and co-director of DAAR (Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency) an architectural studio and residency program centre around the relation of politics and architecture. Latest publication, Refugee Heritage (Art and Theory, Stockholm 2022), and Permanent Temporariness (Art and Theory, Stockholm 2021).
Session II Combat Breathing
What divides the world today is the right or lack of the right to breathe. Our world is a suffocating world, in which some people are not allowed to breathe. The illegalised people on the move who are suffocated to death in crowded trucks; travellers without papers who drown in the Mediterranean Sea; African Americans who are suffocated to death under the knees of a brutal racism. At the same time, growth-dependent fossil capitalism has caused environmental degradation and air pollution in major cities in the Global South, where breathing has become struggling. This is what Frantz Fanon called “combat breathing”. A suffocating world requires resistance. The “Black Lives Matter” and “Migrant Lives Matter” movements echo Fanon, who said that the colonised revolt because it has become impossible for them to breathe.
We cannot breathe! Can you?
Host: Shahram Khosravi is a former taxi drive and currently an accidental Professor of Anthropology at Stockholm University. Latest publication, Seeing Like a Smuggler: Borders from Below, (edited volume Mahmoud Keshavarz) London Pluto Press 2022; Waiting. A Project in Conversation, Berlin (2021)
Session III Challenging institutional definitions of temporal experiences of asylum
In this session, we attempt to understand the term ‘‘non-EU citizen’’ as a transient identity that can be defined beyond institutional frameworks defying terms such as ‘‘migration crisis, alien, integration crisis, global refugee crisis’’. The aim of this session is to create a space in which we can collectively understand our attitudes towards temporal experiences of asylum in the EU. Together, we will create networks of care and tools of knowledge to acknowledge and question problematic expectations of accessing such identities. We will look beyond institutional definitions around experiences of asylum and instead, acknowledge our reproductions of politicised fear, apathy, and hate towards such identities.
Host: Hayfaa Chalabi is an illustrator and storyteller interested in the role of illustration to re-contextualise narratives, histories, and discussions. Chalabi uses her power as an illustrator and storyteller to spark discussions about different socio-political issues. Her work revolves around the misuse of power structures in our society and the intersections of visual culture, sexuality, gender, and migration. Currently, Chalabi works as a senior lecturer at the University of Arts in London (UAL).
Session IV Libya’s Interregnum: Spatial archives of trauma and transformation.
This is a tale that traces temporal spaces that developed throughout Libya’s history as an ideological persistent and systemic pattern of “Emergency” making – shaped by the “transitional governments”, where the country has never in fact been in a stable political and economic state.. Political, cultural, economic, and spatial boundaries become blurred, full of gaps and open for endless reinterpretations.. The Libyan city grows monstrously through its intractable lines of flight, and urban informality overlaps, coexists, or sometimes even resists the state’s absence and informality, where official laws of justice and ownership are not activated. This liminal space created a new way of place making, or rather, a process of un-making space devoid of the rigid historical identities and myths.. This tale questions the current space and time in the Libyan city as what Antonio Gramsci called an “interregnum”… a permanent temporary space of violence, refugee, survival, but also transgression, resistance and potential transformation.
Host: Sarri is a 25 years old conceptual architect, artists, art curator, and cultural producer based in Benghazi, Libya, and the founder of TAJARROD Architecture and Art Foundation. Sarri’s work is centered on an interdisciplinary synthesis between architecture, art, and the social sciences, dedicated to generating a critical understanding and attitude towards the built environment, and to investigating contemporary socio-cultural issues, identities and ideologies, and their impact on architecture and cities.
Session V The Living Room
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 is constituted by a network of various living rooms activated in six 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), in the living room of Sandi and Alessandro in Stockholm supported by the Arab Fund for Art and Culture (AFAC) (5) and the at Vanabbe Musemm in Eindhoven with Shafiq Omar Kakar
Hosts: Sandi Hilal is visiting professor at Lund University and co-director of DAAR (Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency) an architectural studio and residency program centre around the relation of politics and architecture. Latest publication, Refugee Heritage (Art and Theory, Stockholm 2022), and Permanent Temporariness (Art and Theory, Stockholm 2021). Shafiq Omar Kakar born in Laghman, Afghanistan, immigrated to Kingdom of The Netherlands in 1998 where he now lives and works as an artist, curator and researcher. Shafiq coördinate The Van Abbemuseum Living Room ( Madafah) since 2019. He also coordinated The Madafah in U-Jazdowski contemporary art museum in Warsw Poland. He initiated a long-term research project called The Afghan Art Research Project in The Van Abbe Museum in The Netherlands.
Invited by Alserkal Arts Foundation in Dubai, the Tree School will gather in different locations around the city over four consecutive evenings, from Monday 27 February to Thursday 2 March.
The Tree School is a gathering place for groups and individuals interested in learning from each other and in sharing common urgencies based on lived experiences. The Tree School can last for days, months, or years, depending on the participants’ interests. It is a space for conviviality and the joy of learning together. Learning under the shade of a tree is a common practice found in many cultures around the world. The tree is a living being with its own particular story and mythologies. Its connection with other plants offers a physical and metaphorical space for sharing knowledge. The Tree School took place in different contexts, from a refugee camp in Palestine to the amazon in Brazil, from a University in Melbourne to a forest in Croatia.
Join us at the next decolonial assembly in Bruxelles from the 3rd to the 5th of February at la Loge in Brussels.
The art installation “Entity of Decolonization” profanes the Entity of Colonization of the Sicilian Latifandium in Sicily, by decomposing and recomposing its facade in several modular seats. These have been reused as the platform for an open discursive space where the public is invited to critically reconsider the social, political and economic effects of fascist, colonial and modernist heritage, and at the same time collectively imagine new common uses.
The first activation of the “Ente di Decolonizzazione – Borgo Rizza” took place in May 2022 at the Mostra d’Oltremare in Napoli, which first opened in 1940. Conceived as a colossal exhibition to display the territories and people overseas in areas colonized by the fascist regime, it closed only 40 days after its opening. The second activation of “Ente di Decolonizzazione – Borgo Rizza” took place at Hansa Quarter, in west berlin, built in 1957 for the International Building Exhibition (Interbau). We were interested here in exploring how modernist architecture was deployed for the representation of a democratic Germany. The third activation will take place al la loge, a Brussels-based space dedicated to contemporary art, architecture and theory. Join us and take part in the activation of the installation through a public discussion that will revolve around the decolonization of public spaces in Brussels. (2021_URBAN_REPORT_DECOLON_PUBLIC_SPACE_EN_DEF). Participation in the decolonial assemblies is free of charge, but attendance on all three consecutive days is encouraged. The exhibition itself, Entity of Decolonization, will open on February 3rd, from 17:00 to 20:00.
To participate, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Rue de l’Ermitage, 86 1050 Ixelles http://www.la-loge.be
The exhibition is curated by Matteo Lucchetti
The project is supported by the tenth edition of the Italian Council (2022)
Keynote Lecture in Lisbon
JAN.18th – 18H30
Towards an Entity of Decolonisation
Alessandro Petti (DAAR)
The II International Congress on Colonial and Postcolonial Landscapes focuses on the theme of Architecture, Colonialism and War. The aim of this congress is to extend the debate on the repercussions of the decisions made by the colonial states in the area of territorial infrastructures – in particular through the disciplines of architecture and urbanism – in post-independence development models and the formation of new countries with a colonial past.
On October 11, 2022, during the proclamation ceremony held at the Opéra Garnier in Monte-Carlo, DAAR was awarded the Prince Pierre Foundation Prize for artistic research. The award will be used to continue DAAR’s engagement in the formation of the Entity of Decolonization in Borgo Rizza in Sicily. Present at the ceremony, the deputy mayor of Carlentini, Salvatore La Rosa, a generous supporter of the critical reuse of the former fascist rural town built in 1940 by the Entity of Colonisation of Sicilian latifundium.
Ente di Decolonizzazione – Borgo Rizza – is the new project by DAAR – Alessandro Petti and Sandi Hilal – which explores the possibility of critical reuse and subversion of fascist colonial architecture through an art installation.
Starting from the decomposition and recomposition of the facade of the Entity of Colonization of the Sicilian Latifundiium (1940) in Borgo Rizza (Siracusa), the installation is composed of several modules-sittings that are the platform of an open discursive space where the public is invited to reconsider critically the social, political and economic effect of fascist and colonial heritage and at the same time is invited to image collectively new common uses. The installation is presented and activated in several venues in Napoli (2022), Berlin (2022), Bruxells (2023) and Albissola Marina (2023).
The first activation of the “Ente di Decolonizzazione – Borgo Rizza” took place in May 2022 at the Mostra d’Oltremare in Napoli, which first opened in 1940. Conceived as a colossal exhibition to display the territories and people overseas in areas colonized by the fascist regime, it closed only 40 days after its opening, when Italy entered the Second World War. It has since had many temporary uses, including hosting refugees from the Second World War and from earthquakes in the 80s; acting as a vaccination center; and providing a venue for public events.
The second activation of “Ente di Decolonizzazione – Borgo Rizza” took place at the Akademie der Künste in the Hansa Quarter in Berlin built in 1957 for the International Building Exhibition (Interbau). On this occasion, we were interested in exploring how modernist architecture was deployed for the representation of a democratic Germany. Today, Interbau (1957) and the Karl-Marx-Allee are on the way to becoming UNESCO world heritage sites for their Post-war architectural and urban modernism. With the participation of the public visiting the biennial, members of local associations, and students from New York University Abu Dhabi we looked into what the rhetoric of modernity is hiding, and how it has been mobilized in different contexts. Modernist architectures, both in the former colonies and the colonizing countries, have been built as isolated sacred objects to be admired; therefore, for us, it is not enough just to reuse them, they need to be profaned, to be used against themselves, and open for new common uses different from those they were designed for.
Ente di Decolonizzazione – Borgo Rizza
A project by DAAR – Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti –
Research: Sandi Hilal, Emilio Distretti, Alessandro Petti
Project coordinator: Sara Pellegrini
Public program curator: Matteo Lucchetti
Design assistance and executive production: Orizzontale and Zapoi
Documentation: Pietro Onofri
Website design: NERO editions
Online platform editor: Michele Angiletta for NERO editions
Acknowledgements: Corrado Gugliotta, Salvatore La Rosa, Iole Lianza, Laura Mariano, Remo Minopoli, Nicolò Stabile, Kathryn Weir
Co-commissioned and co-produced by La Loge – Brussels and Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, Madre Museum – Naples, Comune di Albissola Marina
Project supported by the Italian Council (10th Edition 2022) program to promote Italian contemporary art in the world by the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity for the Italian Ministry of Culture.
Material: wood, plaster, plexiglass
Dimensions: 350x600x45 cm
Courtesy the artists
Hurting and Healing: Let’s Imagine a Different Heritage (19.3 – 28.8 2022)
This spring’s exhibition at Tensta konsthall poses the following question: How can the understanding of cultural heritage be decolonized by societies and organizations shaped by European knowledge systems? In this project, Charles Esche, director of the Van Abbemuseum and Tensta konsthall engage in dialogue with a number of artworks, artists, researchers and guest curators with the purpose of looking closer at how western-centric perception of cultural heritage can be challenged and redefined.
The exhibition has its origins in Palestine and in a close working relationship between Esche and the artists/architects Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti. In their Refugee Heritage, they speculate on what would happen if the Dheisheh refugee camp in Palestine was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and afforded the same status as, say, the Pyramids of Giza, Birka or the Taj Mahal. The installation, which consists of light boxes and photo albums, makes reference to the camp and its relations with the Palestinan villages from which people were driven out in 1948. Dheisheh, created in 1949, can be understood as a permanently temporary society within a stateless nation, existing both in adherence and in contradiction to the UN regulations. By proposing it as something to preserve and nurture, the conditions for how a world heritage site can emerge are shifted for a moment. Can exile take us towards a different understanding of the need for a nation state? What should be preserved once the occupation of Palestine is a historical memory?
From this central question, the exhibition contains a series of works that each present concrete proposals for how new cultural heritage can be imagined, or shift, twist and turn existing perceptions of how the past works in our time and in the future. Several works address the historical colonial exploitation, inequality and devastation caused by global capitalism. As for example Jonas Staal’s documentary images from Rojava, images that depict the process to establish democratic confederalism in the Kurdish area of North Syria, and Taus Makhacheva’s balancing act, in which museum paintings are moved between mountaintops in the Caucasus Mountains by a tight-rope walker, and an installation by Otobong Nkanga addressing the subject of land exploitation in Brazil, Namibia and locally. Also in the exhibition is Renzo Martens & CATPC’s portrayal of a conflict over cultural heritage between a group of artists from the Democratic Republic of Congo and an American museum. The exhibition will also present works by Katarina Pirak Sikku, FCNN, Jeannette Ehlers & La Vaughn Belle, and others, all of which relate to Scandinavia’s colonial past and future.
Participating artists: Brook Andrew, DAAR (Decolonizing Architecture Art Research) Sandi Hilal & Alessandro Petti, Jeannette Ehlers & La Vaughn Belle, FCNN (Feminist Collective with No Name), Edi Hila, Patricia Kaersenhout, Manjot Kaur, Taus Makhacheva, Rabih Mroué, Renzo Martens & CATPC (Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise), Otobong Nkanga, Katarina Pirak Sikku and Jonas Staal.
Higher seminar and the book launch of Refugee Heritage by DAAR – Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti, with a Photographic Dossier by Luca Capuano, May 24, 2–5 pm, 2022 at Tensta konsthall
Stateless Heritage confronts dominant Western conceptions of heritage and presents different narratives, reorienting heritage towards nonhegemonic forms of life and collective memory. Dheisheh refugee camp is at the heart of the project, however, we believe this approach could extend to other camps, and forms of subjugated heritage, bringing a new perspective on notions of restitution, repair and return.
The exhibition presents an installation of large freestanding lightboxes of photographs of Dheisheh camp by photographer Luca Capuano. In 2010 the photographer was commissioned by UNESCO to record Italy’s world heritage sites. In 2016, DAAR commissioned Capuano to photograph Dheisheh camp, taking the same care to document this living monument of ‘permanent temporariness’. The spatial placement of the light boxes evokes the topography of the camp giving visitors an insight into its urban and social fabric. In a separate space, a series of open books placed on top of plinths of varying heights will display photographs of the 44 villages from where refugees in Dheisheh originally came, also taken by Capuano. The undulating heights of the plinths form a kind of landscape, or ruin, within the gallery.
The final part of the exhibition is a space of discussion and action. Stateless Heritage presents a call for the official international recognition of the cultural heritage of the refugee, through proposing a refugee camp as a UNESCO world heritage site. A nomination dossier will be available for visitors to read, and a plaque claiming Dheisheh’s world heritage status installed on the gallery wall. Visitors will be invited to consider if the camp should be recognised as a World Heritage Site. This space will also host a live element activated by talks and events by community members, artists, activists and thinkers. These artworks are part of a wider movement, in which heritage is being used as a tool to challenge and resist colonialism and occupation in Palestine. They have wider pertinence too, as calls grow to recognise how heritage and conservation can expose colonial and imperial legacies. The exhibition also raises issues of migrant and refugee justice, at time when UK government is enacting its New Deal on asylum, and as the fundamental right to claim asylum is under threat internationally.
13 October 2021 — 30 January 2022
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