On the occasion of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition, Venice Biennale, (22 May to 21 November 2021), the Stockholm-based, DAAR presents a new installation in the Central Pavilion in the Giardini entitled Stateless Heritage. The intervention is part of an ongoing effort to challenge dominant western conceptions of heritage and open to emancipatory forms of collective narration. Accompanying the art installation is a book nomination dossier which attempts to deactivate the claims of objectivity and universalism contained in the conventions followed by UNESCO in determining World Heritage status; the book presents different narratives that do not fit within such statist discourse, reorienting heritage towards non-hegemonic forms of life and collective memory. Here an informal conversation with Sven-Olov Wallenstein.
On the seventy-third commemoration of the ongoing Nakba, May 14, 2021, the Common Assembly of the Stateless Nations and their allies, discussed the nomination to recognize Dheisheh refugee camp and the forty-four villages as World Heritage Sites.
The nomination book-dossier of Dheisheh refugee camp and the forty-four village of origin is available HERE.
Six years ago, in one of our gatherings inside the Concrete Tent, we asked: do refugee camps have a history? Is the camp just a site of misery or does it produce values that need to be acknowledged and protected? What is going to happen to the camp if Dheisheh is recognized as a World Heritage site? And how should the concept of heritage change in order to acknowledge the camp’s condition?
In 1940, the Fascist regime established the “Entity of Colonization of Sicilian Latifundia / Ente di Colonizzazione del Latifondo Siciliano” following the model of the “Entity of Colonization of Libya” and colonial architecture in Eritrea and Ethiopia. These territories were considered by the regime “empty,” “underdeveloped,” and “backward” and therefore in need to be “reclaimed,” “modernized,” and “repopulated.” For this purpose, the “Entity of Colonization” inaugurated in Sicily eight new rural towns and as many remained unfinished. Today most of these villages have fallen into ruin.
However, what does not seem to be in ruin in Italy is the persistence of colonial and fascist rhetoric, culture, and politics. Despite the fall of fascism following the Second World War, Italy’s de-fascistization remains an unfortunately unfinished process. This is one of the reasons why Italy still has visible architectures, monuments, plaques, and toponymy that celebrate the fascist regime. Furthermore, Italy – having lost its colonies during the Second World War – has never embarked on a real process of decolonization.
In 2017, the nomination of Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its fascist and colonial architecture built during the period of Italian occupation, posed a series of fundamental questions for both the ex-colonized and the ex- colonizers: who has the right to preserve, reuse and re-narrate fascist colonial architecture?
The installation presented for the 2020 Quadriennale d´arte- FUORI at Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, home to the First International Colonial Art Exhibition (1931) and other propaganda exhibitions of the regime, proposes to rethink the rural towns built by the “Entity of Colonization” in Sicily starting from the nomination of Asmara as a World Heritage Site. The installation is the first intervention ”Towards a Decolonization Entity / Verso un Ente di Decolonizzazione” that will be made up of those who feel the urgency to question the broad historical, cultural and political heritage steeped in colonialism and fascism, and thus begin a common path towards new practices of decolonization and reparation.
VERSO UN ENTE DI DECOLONIZZAZIONE, 2020
A project by Sandi Hilal e Alessandro Petti (DAAR)
Photographic dossier: Luca Capuano
Installation: Video projections, photographs and plexiglass
Research and texts: Emilio Distretti, Husam Abu Salem
Graphic design: Diego Segatto, Rosanna Lama
QUADRIENNALE D’ARTE 2020 | FUORI
Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Roma
30 October 2020 > 17 January 2021 more
Hosted by Alserkal, join the Round table discussion “Mutual understanding” with Mary Ellen Carroll, Lumumba Di-Aping, Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti, Katya García-Antón, Basim Magdy, Jahnavi Phalkey and Akeel Bilgrami.
SEPTEMBER 2, 2020, 7PM (GST)
Watch the video recorded conversations between Katya García-Antón, Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti around the question “How will we Return?”
Meanwhile, the Israeli government, with the support of the United States of America, is planning to expropriate more land in Palestine, tonight Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem started its mutation reconnecting itself to the villages of origin.
Dheisheh camp is constituted by the assemblage of people that have been expelled since 1948 from 44 villages south of Jerusalem. Walking today from one neighbor to another is similar to walking from one village to another in 1948. The camp has preserved the names of the villages of origin, the languages, the memories. When colonial aggression intensifies, it becomes more urgent than ever to reconnect the refugee camps to their villages of origin. Images via www.karama.org; Map by DAAR
Chapters and iterations of the ongoing Refugee Heritage project (2015-2021), conceived, publicly discussed and produced in Dheisheh refugee camp in Palestine, have been displayed at the Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai, Chicago Architecture Biennial, The Art Encounters Biennial in Timișoara, Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism. Since 2015, DAAR, along with politicians, conservation experts, activists, governmental and nongovernmental representatives, and residents, gathered to discuss the implications of nominating Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem—a place established with the intention of being temporary—as a World Heritage Site. Refugee Heritage presents the heritage nomination application, images of Dheisheh as it is today, and documentation on the current state of the home villages of Dheisheh refugees. By reusing, misusing, and redirecting UNESCO World Heritage guidelines and criteria, Refugee Heritage challenges definitions of heritage and their foundations in colonialism, asking instead how architectural instruments can be undermined, or mobilized as agents of political transformation.
DAAR, Refugee Heritage (2015-2021)
Photographic dossier Luca Capuano
Courtesy of Jameel Arts Centre. Photo by Dani Baptista
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.
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.
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