Curated by DAAR (Sandi Hilal & Alessandro Petti)
Refuge is a temporary condition caused by wars, climate change, and social, economic, and political crises. But what happens when a temporary situation becomes permanent? Over the last years, the condition of Permanent Temporariness, imposed on refugees forced to live in refugee camps and unable to return to their countries of origin, has become a form of government extended to unprivileged parts of society, from precarious workers to immigrants and students. When the present becomes uncertain and fragile, nothing seems permanent anymore, and all decisions are simply postponed, leaving people in legal and existential limbo. The condition of permanent temporariness tends to deprive people of their agency from the possibility to act and engage with the present. Either stacked in a nostalgic idea of a lost past or projected into an idealized future, the present seems simply inaccessible. Reflecting on the most protracted displacement in the world, Palestine refugees, to the condition of the illegalized migrants in Europe, we can learn how people resisted the regime of permanent temporariness, the imposition of an unjust present and opposed the status quo and the normalization of the present.
With invited guests and collective conversations, we will speculate on how to operate with and against the condition of permanent temporariness for challenging the status quo and how to transform the present paralyzing condition of exile and displacement into a site from which to reinvent society beyond the nation-state.
The programme entails 5 sessions interrupted and connected by music, food, and group discussions
Hosted by Sandi Hilal & Alessandro Petti, Hayfaa Chalabi, Shafiq Kafar, Sarri Elfaitouri, Shahram Khosarvi
The live music is performed by Ghenwa Noiré. Ghenwa is an Amsterdam-based performer and multimedia installation practitioner. She uses her body as a vocal and movement instrument to tap into utterances and gestures that are influenced by the social structure of Lebanon.
DAAR (Decolonizing Architecture Art Residence) is an artistic and architectural collective that combines conceptual speculations and pragmatic spatial interventions, discourse, and collective learning. DAAR’s work has been featured in exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale, Venice Architecture Biennale, NGBK in Berlin, the Istanbul Biennial, The International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, Home Works in Beirut, Architekturforum Tirol in Innsbruck, the Oslo Triennial, the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
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.
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 centred around the relation of politics and architecture. Latest publications: Refugee Heritage (Art and Theory, Stockholm 2022), and Permanent Temporariness (Art and Theory, Stockholm 2021).
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?
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)
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.
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).
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.
Sarri Elfaitouri is a 25 years old conceptual architect, artist, art curator, and cultural producer based in Benghazi, Libya. He is 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.
Sandi Hilal & Shafiq Omar Kakar
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
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 The Netherlands in 1998 where he now lives and works as an artist, curator and researcher. Shafiq coördinates 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.