DAAR – Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti | Stateless Heritage
In Stateless Heritage artist and architectural collective DAAR – Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti – challenge mainstream narratives of refugee experience and of heritage. They propose exile as a radical perspective which can take us beyond the limitations of the nation state.
Stateless Heritage presents DAAR’s nomination to register Dheisheh refugee camp in Palestine as a World Heritage Site. 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. The exhibition opens with a large light box installation of 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’. The villages that the refugees of Dheisheh were forced from are represented through a series of photo-books. They are displayed in the gallery on plinths of varying heights, recalling a landscape or ruin. Visitors reading these books can see photographs and records of the 44 villages and find out what, if anything, remains.
The exhibition ends with The Living Room (Al-Madafeh). This is a social gathering space, in the spirit of Dheisheh refugee camp’s culture, where people can socialise, read, relax and hopefully organise. Visitors can drink coffee, and enjoy a curated monthly programme of music and film on offer. Every Sunday, camp resident Omar Hamidat hosts the space welcoming visitors to the space. Visit our events listings for more about what’s on online and in gallery.
This exhibition is 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. The UNESCO 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. Stateless Heritage also raises 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. Their book Refugee Heritage (2021) was published this year by Art and Theory. Read more about DAAR.
DAAR exhibition producer: Husam Abusalem
Image: Refugee Heritage by DAAR — Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti — Photographic Dossier by Luca Capuano