teaching assistant: Afroditi Maragkou, PhD candidate
While migration becomes a major issue in our country’s public life and debate, and as a large part of humankind goes into “refugee status”, the material, mnemonic and design-related aspects of this phenomenon have yet to be studied.
In view of this, the elective course “Architectural and Artistic Practices Ι” focuses on exploring and documenting the material spatial condition experienced by a series of itinerant populations in our country. Specifically, it attempts a kind of archaeology of migration through the study of the few objects these people choose to take with them in their long and arduous journey, and those they create at the new temporary dwellings and at the places they stay. These may have an affective and commemorative aspect or be the raw materials for various improvised apparatuses for survival. Moreover, it should not escape our attention that these are mostly populations to whom the distinctions “nature/society”, “agent/object” –this “great suspect fantasy of the modern world”, as Bruno Latour calls it– do not have the meaning they have acquired in Western civilisation.
So if until now we used to associate archaeology with ground stratifications and earth digging, here our focus shifts to an archaeology of objects; an archaeology of what has no solid or specific ground; an archaeology of the a-territorial or the extra-terriotrial, as Giorgio Agamben describes this new condition “where inside and outside become in-determinate”. This is why, beyond any expression of concern or solidarity, the phenomenon of migration unhinges “the old state–nation–territory triad of power” and “clears the way for a renewal of categories that can no longer be delayed”.
Sp what are the objects these people bring or create in their travels—objects at once “semantic” (i.e. with a meaning independent of the context) and “episodic” (specifically tied to the context)? How can we register and understand today the importance of these objects in the context of object-oriented philosophy, the “archaeology of the senses” and the study of the various forms of non-verbal expression? How can we represent these vulnerable life practices and their mnemonic or material traces? What architectural and artistic practices can we develop to study this phenomenon, avoiding an emotional rhetoric and the aestheticisation of such a tragic experience?
The course will be conducted in collaboration with Victoria Square Project, the collective work-in-progress of the American artist Rick Lowe which began in the context of documenta 14 and gives priority to collaboration with people, care for the more vulnerable social groups and the special historical and multicultural dynamic of Victoria Square.
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