DAAR (Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti) – Stateless Heritage
Stateless Heritage sets out to challenge mainstream narratives of refugee experience, of humanitarian crises, victim-hood and suffering. In this exhibition, artist and architectural collective DAAR (Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti) propose exile as a radical perspective which can take us beyond the limitations of the nation state. Stateless Heritage also interrogates Western definitions of heritage.
The works in the exhibition focus on Dheisheh refugee camp in Palestine. The camp traces its history back to 1949, at the time of the start of the Nakba, when Palestinians were displaced by the founding of the state of Israel. A large light box installation will show photographs of the camp by Luca Capuano. Capuano had previously photographed Italy’s world heritage sites for UNESCO. In 2016 DAAR commissioned him to take the same care to document Dheisheh, as a living monument of ‘permanent temporariness’. A series of photo-books show the 44 villages the refugees of Dheishah originally came from.
The exhibition presents DAAR’s nomination to register the camp as a World Heritage Site (which premiered at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale). The nomination is intended as a provocation, to expose how the definition of heritage is not universal as claimed, but subject to nation state control and has colonial foundations. The exhibition ends in a social gathering space, in the spirit of Dheisheh refugee camp’s culture, where people will be able to socialise, read, relax and hopefully, organise. Events in the gallery and online will explore themes including refugee heritage, subjugated heritage, statelessness and resistance to colonialism, through workshops, discussions, music, performance and film.
These works are part of a wider movement to use heritage to resist colonialism and occupation which continues in Palestine, and to expose colonial and imperial legacies more widely. Stateless Heritage will raise issues of migrant justice at a time when the right to claim asylum is under threat in the UK and internationally.
DAAR (Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti) is an architectural collective that combines conceptual speculations and pragmatic spatial interventions, discourse and collective learning. The artistic research of Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti are situated between politics, architecture, art and pedagogy. In their 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. Read more about DAAR.
Image: DAAR (Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti), Permanent Temporariness, New York Abu Dhabi Gallery 2018. Photo: Luca Capuano.