Ukraine - the Netherlands Urban Network

lecture → sep 14 '23

Colonial Endurance: A Discussion

Nieuwe Instituut Museumpark 25 Rotterdam
In a discussion based on the exhibition Colonial Endurance: Detecting the Algorithm of Violence in Infrastructures, on display in Gallery 3, architect Ola Hassanain, writer Owen Hatherley, and architect and researcher Lesia Topolnyk will respond to the works presented at the exhibition.

They will speak about how their practices and projects are connected to colonial endurance and will discuss future principles of infrastructural relations and connections. The conversation moderated by Anna Bitkina and Maria Veits (TOK), the curators of Colonial Endurance exhibition, will also focus on political repercussions and manifestations of architecture.
About the speakers
Ola Hassanain works between Amsterdam and Khartoum, focusing on developing spatial literacy through the idea of ‘space as discourse’, an expanded notion of space that encompasses a scavenging mode of analysis and the re-presentation of space. In this residency, her artistic research responds to the politics of space – namely, how Architecture positions ‘building’ as an ecological ‘emptying’ of territories and an infrastructure for continuous cycles of ‘catastrophe’, such as forced migration. In her work she decomposes conventional linear perspectives, vantage points still used today for the representation of built forms and the induction of future realities, by including practices of space-making rooted in other sensibilities. ‘The line that follows’ is an analogous constellation composed of manipulated perspective drawings derived from routes taken in Khartoum, abstracted forms, text, diagrams, Sufi and Zar practices – all placeholders for an unemptied space.
Owen Hatherley is a writer and editor living in south-east London. He is the author of several books on aesthetics and politics, including Militant Modernism (Zer0, 2009), A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain (Verso, 2010), Landscapes of Communism (Penguin, 2015), Red Metropolis (Repeater 2020) and Modern Buildings in Britain – a Gazetteer (Penguin, 2022). His most recent book is Artificial Islands, an architectural tour of some British settler colonial cities, published by Repeater Books, which won the Architectural Book Awards 2023, both as ‘best book’ and ‘best monograph’. As an editor, Owen put together The Alternative Guide to the London Boroughs for the annual Open House festival in 2020, and was the culture editor of Tribune between 2018 and 2023. He is currently a commissioning editor at Jacobin.
Lesia Topolnyk (Dutch-Ukrainian) was born in Ukraine and educated as an architect in different countries. She explores how different realities and perspectives superimpose on human behavior and are manifested in physical space. Operating across architecture, politics and art, she founded StudioSpaceStation to respond to the urgent societal and planetary issues. Lesia received the Prix de Rome (most prestigious prize in The Netherlands for artists and architects below 35 years old) for the project No Innocent Landscape and Archiprix National and International for the project Un-United Nations Headquarters on the Crimean peninsula.
About the exhibition
International group exhibition Colonial Endurance. Detecting the Algorithm of Violence in Infrastructures curated by TOK explores persistent mechanisms of exploitation, suppression and discrimination deeply rooted within infrastructural and architectural systems. The show examines how remnants of colonial processes and imperialist vision continue to endure through architectural and industrial heritage, such as river banks, oil processing and hydropower infrastructures, single-industry cities, chemical manufactures, educational and cultural institutions, as well as within ecological landscapes. By detecting this so-called algorithm of violence in various geographic and temporal contexts "Colonial Endurance" calls for a critical reevaluation of this persistence and investigates how alternative principles of care, solidarity, and horizontality can be integrated into contemporary spatial and infrastructural propositions. The exhibition features works by a diverse range of artists, filmmakers, performers, and social scientists whose works are presented in a format of video and spatial installations, sets of anthropological artefacts, archival materials, found forensics, texts, sculptures and performative actions.
About TOK
TOK is a nomadic curatorial collective founded in 2010 by Anna Bitkina and Maria Veits. Their practice is rooted in historical analysis and political imagination, generating multidimensional projects that explore the causes and consequences of mutating political realities. Often working outside of conventional art spaces, TOK infiltrates social structures, bringing to light their insidious logics and effects, subjecting them to public discourse in order to revisit the roles and power of social institutions and redraft their potential future. TOK’s investigations encompass local governance, public space, media, educational and legal systems (with a specific emphasis on excluded histories), communities and experiences, the politics of built environments, and imposed hierarchies across different societies and geographies. TOK’s activities involve curating exhibitions, socially-oriented art projects, educational events, and publications. Their current curatorial focus includes examining the relationships between the state and the body to uncover remnants of systemic colonial violence embedded in social structures.