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Urgent Pedagogies: Infrastructures

Playing Unity from Leftover Materials, Pembeviran Village, Diyarbakir, Turkey. Photo by HiM.

IASPIS is welcoming you to a public seminar on building and sustaining infrastructures of unlearning and decolonial knowledge. Participants include Miguel Robles-Durán, Joseph Bohigas, Yelta Köm, Merve Gül Özokcu, Nishat Awan, Ignacio G. Galán, Pelin Tan and Magnus Ericson.

The seminar presents and discusses diverse practices of architecture and urbanism that all engage and act from a bottom up perspective. It’s structured around a series of cases presented by invited architects and urbanists that are pursuing action based public engagements in different scales of spatial production. How can we act and create modalities of collective unlearning and decolonial praxes in relation to territorial contexts? What are the relations between the scale of infrastructures and protocols of actions? How do various urban and territorial contexts force us to take action? How can we renotiate, imagine, and build infrastructures of pedagogies?

Urgent Pedagogies is a project inquiring how socially engaged spatial practice, through critical and experimental forms and environments for learning and knowledge production, may act in relation and response to the urgencies of social justice and equality, contested territories and conditions of conflict. It consists of a series of public events and an emerging online platform highlighting and discussing practice and theory. It aims to serve as a common resource and a space for bringing together practitioners, researchers, and thinkers from a plurality of backgrounds, experiences, contexts, and situations to be in dialogue and think together.

Urgent Pedagogies is initiated and organised by IASPIS, the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Programme for Visual and Applied Arts. The project is developed and pursued by Magnus Ericson, curator and responsible for the design, crafts and architecture programme at IASPIS and Pelin Tan, Senior Researcher of the Center for Arts, Design and Social Research, Boston and Professor at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Batman University, Turkey. Urgent Pedagogies: Infrastructures is presented in correlation to the final week of the Venice Architecture Biennial 2021. The event is organised in collaboration with S.a.L.E. Docks.

A detailed programme is pulished at https://urgentpedagogies.iaspis.se/


Nishat Awan is an architect and researcher. Her research focuses on the intersection of geopolitics and space, including questions related to diasporas, migration and border regimes. She is interested in modes of spatial representation, particularly in relation to the digital and the limits of witnessing as a form of ethical engagement with distant places. Currently, she leads the ERC funded project Topological Atlas which aims to produce visual counter-geographies of the fragile movements of migrants as they encounter the security apparatus of the border. She is Senior Research Fellow at the Borders & Territories group at the Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft. In 2015 she was an Independent Social Research Foundation early career fellow working on the project, Edges of Europe, exploring European belonging through migrant experience. Her book, Diasporic Agencies (Routledge, 2016) addressed the subject of how architecture and urbanism can respond to the consequences of increasing migration. She has also addressed alternative modes of architectural production in the co-authored book Spatial Agency (Routledge, 2011) and the co-edited book Trans-Local-Act (aaa-peprav, 2011).

Joseph Bohigas is an architect from the ETSAB (UPC) with master studies at Columbia University and UPF. He is the general manager of the Urban Development Agency, Barcelona Regional, since 2016 and the Agency of Urban Ecology since 2019. He is an associate professor at the ETSAB, co-director of the Master degree in Lighting Design at the UPC Foundation. He was co-director of the BOPBAA Architecture studio from 1991 to 2015, winning various architectural competitions including the extension to the Thyssen Museum in Madrid, the Housing block in the Forum area, and the El Molino theatre in Barcelona, and receiving awards for professional recognition including FAD awards (1998, 2000, 2007) and City of Barcelona awards (2007, 2014, 2016). Since 2003 Joseph Bohigas has directed and curated several cultural activism programs which have highlighted new solutions to the housing problem: Barraca Barcelona 2003, APTM 2005, Eme3:Collapse 2009, Piso Piloto 2015, and Arquitectes de Capçalera 2014-2020.

Miguel Robles-Durán is an urbanist with expertise in the design and analysis of complex urban systems and urban political-ecology. He is an associate professor of urbanism and director of the graduate urban programs at The New School / Parsons School of Design in New York City. He is a founding member of Urban Front, a transnational consultancy focused on helping progressive public and social sectors address critical urban issues including housing rights, environmental justice, public health, cultural action, sustainable infrastructure and political strategy. He is also co-founder of Cohabitation Strategies (CohStra), a globally recognized nonprofit cooperative for socio-spatial design and development based in New York City and Rotterdam. The work of Robles-Durán has been exhibited in numerous venues around the world, including The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), MAK Museum Vienna, La Biennale di Venezia, the Istanbul Design Biennial, the Shenzhen Biennial, Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Rotterdam Biennial and the Lisbon Architecture Triennial.

Magnus Ericson is a curator and responsible for the design, crafts and architecture programme at IASPIS. He has a background as curator, project coordinator and educator working across design, architecture, urbanism and art. Between 2014 and 2018 he developed and managed two experimental postgraduate courses on socially engaged critical practice; Sites and Situations and Organising Discourse, at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm. Between 2009 and 2014 Magnus Ericson was a Senior Advisor/Coordinator and Curator for the design related programme at Arkdes, Sweden´s National Center for Architecture and Design, in Stockholm. Between 2007 and 2009 he was assigned as a Project Manager at IASPIS to pursue and develop the activities within the fields of design, crafts and architecture. Together with Ramia Maze he was the author and co-editor of DESIGN ACT Socially and politically engaged design today – critical roles and emerging tactics (Berlin, Sternberg Press 2011). Together with Pelin Tan he is the curator of Urgent Pedagogies.

Ignacio G. Galán is a New York-based architect and historian. He works as Assistant Professor at Barnard College, Columbia University. His scholarship addresses the relationship between architecture, politics, and media, with a particular focus on nationalism, colonialism, and migration as well as questions of diversity and critical access in design practice and education. He has published in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, The Journal of Architecture, and Architectural Review among others, and has co-edited the volumes After Belonging (Lars Muller, 2016) and Radical Pedagogies(MIT Press, forthcoming 2022). His work expands the reach of architectural history through diverse media and collaborative platforms, and has resulted in installations at the Venice Biennale 2014 and 2021, the Lisbon Triennale 2013, and the Center for Architecture in New York in addition to co-curating the Oslo Triennale 2016. His work as a designer is part of the permanent collection of the Pompidou Center.

Yelta Köm is an architect, artist, and researcher who incorporated architecture, artistic and spatial practices to discuss social and political issues. He graduated from Städelschule Architecture Class. His work is mainly influenced by the perception of the environment, neoliberal transformations, the contradiction between nature and technology, and collective movements. Köm’s methodology and mediums demonstrate the diversity of each project, and collaboration is a vital part of it. He co-founded Herkes Icin Mimarlik (Architecture for All), an Istanbul-based non-profit that mediates design processes. He was the associate curator of the Vardiya at the Pavilion of Turkey at Venice Architecture Biennale in 2018. He writes articles for academic and popular culture magazines and books. His work has been shown internationally in biennials, galleries and museums. He is a member of the Arazi Collective, which works on different spatial scales focusing on the Southeast region of Turkey. Yelta Köm is currently a researcher at the ERC-granted Topological Atlas project at TU Delft and a guest lecturer at Berlin International University of Applied Sciences. He continues his dissertation Data, Surveillance, Architecture.

Pelin Tan is the 6th recipient of the Keith Haring Art and Activism and fellow of Bard College of the Human Rights Program and Center for Curatorial Studies, NY, 2019-2020. She is a sociologist, art historian and currently Professor, Fine Arts Faculty, Batman University, Turkey. Tan is a Senior Fellow of the Center for Arts, Design and Social Research, Boston; and researcher at the Architecture Faculty, University of Thessaly, Volos (2020-2025). She is the co-curator of the Cosmological Gardens project by CAD+SR and she was the curator of the Gardentopia project of Matera ECC 2019. Tan, was a Postdoctoral fellow on Artistic Research at ACT Program, MIT 2011; and a Phd scholar of DAAD Art History, at Humboldt Berlin University, 2006. Her field research was supported by The Japan Foundation, 2011; Hong Kong Design Trust, 2016, CAD+SR 2019. She was a guest professor at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut 2021; Visiting Professor at School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 2016 and at the Department of Architecture, University of Cyprus, 2018. Between 2013 and 2017 she was an Associate Professor of the Architecture Faculty at Mardin Artuklu University. She is a member of Imece refugee Solidarity Association and co-founder of Imece Academy; advisor of The Silent University and the pedagogical consortium of Dheisheh Palestinian Refugee Camp, Palestine. In 2008 she was an IASPIS grantholder. Together with Magnus Ericson she is the curator of Urgent Pedagogies.

Merve Gül Özokcu is an architect, researcher and activist. Her research focus is commons, creative actions, narratives of everyday life and indigenous eco-feminist practices. She is the vice president of the board Herkes İçin Mimarlık (Architecture for All) Association that aims to resolve social problems through architecture while searching for alternative ways of practising architecture. She is a part of Arazi Assembly (2016, Mardin); a research assembly consisting of researchers that are working together in different spatial scales focusing on the Southeast region of Turkey. Arazi considers collective research as a form of knowledge production of decolonization, care and solidarity. Currently, Merve Gül Özokcu is a grant holder of IASPIS Studio and İstanbul Cultural Art Foundation’s Design Resilience Program.

S.a.L.E. Docks is a centre for artistic research and practice active in Venice. Approaching art from a radical perspective, it is run by a collective of cultural workers, artists, students and part of a wider network of local and global activists. S.a.L.E. Docks’ activities take place in a former salt storage facility, which was occupied by art activists in 2007. Since then the centre has organised seminars, exhibitions, workshops, research and public actions that experiment with models of cultural production alternative to the neoliberal logic. In a city ruled by the logic of the mega-event (La Biennale) and privately owned art institutions, S.a.L.E. Docks gives space and voice to projects that envision a different idea of cultural production based on social engagement, horizontal decisional processes, inclusion, environmental consciousness, local and global interactions.

IASPIS is the Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Programme for Visual and Applied Art. Its mission is to work with internationalisation in various ways with the aim of increasing and developing contacts between Swedish artists and international institutions, fellow artists, the general public and the markets with the aim of contributing to artistic development and improved working and income opportunities. This is done by means of direct support for various forms of international cultural exchange, studio programmes in Sweden and abroad, informational activities and expert visits, as well as via a public programme of activities which formulate and explore topical issues in contemporary visual art and design from an international perspective.