Hospitality – with all its seeming generosity – is a complex concept: Who is invited into our societies, our assemblies? What are the relationships between guests and hosts? Is unconditional hospitality possible? The architecture of public space, the infrastructures of coming together, the borders and thresholds around them inform how we come together, what is prevented from happening, what is possible. The 11th edition of The Art of Assembly looks at the physical relations of gatherings, how bodies and objects are organised, how radical concepts of democracy can be represented in space. Architect and researcher Merve Bedir since long researches infrastructures of hospitality and mobility as well of the residue of solidarity in urban and public space. For raumlabor architecture is a tool, in search for a city of possibilities, considering themselves activists, operating within the urban landscape. And for architect and scholar Marina Otero Verzier is concerned with how the work of architects, in coordination with other social and institutional techniques, produces differential spaces that either facilitate or prevent their encounter of bodies.
form of the table, who sits at the table, and how to sit at the table, as well as manners of eating, talking, and sharing are all based on a politics of instituting everyday life and public space. “Turning the table” then is a matter of questioning hospitality and its politics around the table. Ulus Baker’s theory of intervals is based on the proximity between two things/subjects (that may or may not seem far from each other), and their participation in the existence of a total being. My talk will then focus what might constitute an architecture of proximities.
Architecture, as a biopolitical and normalizing technique, participates in constructing distinctions and categories. The work of architects oozes Cartesianism. It produces differential social spaces that either facilitate or prevent their encounter of bodies and their movement. For the work of architects often involves drawing abstract, assertive lines that define insides, outsides, ups and downs. Lines that support historical forms of exclusion, and discrimination. Yet, these capabilities, I would argue, could also be deployed to dismantle the boundaries that currently define, enclose, and exploit the world and the common interest; the boundaries on compassion; the compartmentalization and instrumentalization of relations. This, in turn, requires imagining other architectures to come. A non-Cartesian architecture that might not be designed to quantify, control, categorize. An architecture difficult to describe under dual categories. An architecture for the encounter and assemblage between animals, humans, plants, machinic and inanimate beings. An architecture of radical hospitality.
Choirs are a very specific form of assembling – from representing “the people” in Greek tragedy via all kinds of religious choirs, political choirs, revolutionary choirs up to the legendary human mic at Occupy Wall Street and the iconic chants at Tahrir Square in 2011. Theatre director Claudia Bosse, art theorist Alia Mossallam, and the activists of The Church of Stop Shopping discuss the potential (and perhaps dangers), the tenderness, the precarity and the power of synchronised singing, chanting, shouting along concrete artistic and activistic practices in Cairo, New York and Vienna.
Savitri D explores some of the intersections between Assembly and Song through her work as Director of the Stop Shopping Choir, using mostly casual video and audio recordings she relates the experience of song and singing to the formation of Assemblies and Movement Building.
Choir is also a gathering of different interests that approach each other over a period of time, negotiating their differences, experiences and understandings.
Sharing, articulating. not always with words, but with actions in a physical articulation in space, space-grasping.
A connection to others, previously unfamiliar, is created.
Society and play at the same time.
‘unshaken’. It was one of the newer chants that were infused into us on the 25th of January 2011 – every time the police launched an offensive, and people started to run, someone would shout “Ithabt” as he or she stopped moving, and then several would shout it, and then tens and hundreds, until thousands would stop. I would close my ears and squeeze my eyes shut and let the thousands of voices shake through me, shake out the fear, and stabilise my resolve.