In their latest project, DAAR (Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency) investigate the site of the abandoned ‘Palestinian Parliament’ building in East Jerusalem, attempting to spatialise questions of democratic representation within a ‘deterritorialized’ Palestinian diaspora, and to imagine an ‘extra-territorial’ space of assembly “that is able to represent all Palestinians: those living in Israel, under its occupation, and in exile”.
DAAR explain the background of the project, and the key political and spatial ideas with which it engages:
Common Assembly: Deterritorializing the Palestinian Parliament is a long-term project to think through and conceive spaces for political participation, decision and action for all Palestinians. This autumn, the United Nations will vote on whether to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state and a member of their assembly. This event’s arrival on the heels of other liberation struggles throughout the Middle East makes it a historic moment with great potential. Whatever the vote’s outcome, Palestinians must deal with a significant spatial problem: how can political participation be organized for a partially exiled — and therefore, geographically dispersed — people?
Where different revolutionary initiatives launched by Palestinian academics and various factions seek to address this problem on the political and institutional level, DAAR is committed to thinking through this problem on the architectural, territorial and (extra) territorial levels. The studio has been granted access to the Palestinian Parliament building in Abu Dis. It was constructed with international donations during the Oslo years but the project was abandoned before completion. Now the Wall cuts the building off from Jerusalem. The building stands as a monument to the collapsed peace process but this condition of local impossibility allows for a political imaginary to arise. Thus, the building becomes a starting point to imagine new types of political assembly.
DAAR decided to use the building both as a site of intervention as well as a site of architectural speculation. DAAR’s goal is to work through an understanding of the relationships between territory, population and political representation. In Palestine, the population cannot be represented by a single parliament building, as it would serve only a people within imposed borders that fragment all those who see themselves as Palestinians; it must operate through disassociations in which the people, the building and the territory are categories in constant motion in relation to each other.
For an insightful overview of the contemporary challenges facing Palestinians in the global diaspora, and on present grassroots initiatives towards democratic representation, we would encourage you to read the recent ‘Roundtable on Palestinian Diaspora and Representation’ on Jadaliyya.
An exhibition based on DAAR’s ‘Common Assembly’ project will be on display at Centre d’Art Neuchatel in Switzerland from 16 September to 28 October 2011. For more on the project, you can explore the ‘Common Assembly’ section on the DAAR website.
Text and images are reproduced with kind permission from DAAR.
“Common Assembly: Deterritorializing the Palestinian Parliament” is the second collaborative partnership between DAAR, the Al-Quds Bard Honors College and the Forensic Architecture project, at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, University of London. It is supported by Foundation for Arts Initiatives and the Municipality of Beit Sahour.
Project by Sandi Hilal, Alessandro Petti, Eyal Weizman, Nicola Perugini with Yazeed Anani, Nishat Awan, Ghassan Bannoura, Benoit Burquel, Suzy Harris-Brandts, Runa Johannssen, Zografia Karekou, Cressida Kocienski, Lejla Odobasic, Carina Ottino, Elizabeth Paden, Sameena Sitabkhan, Amy Zion.