Modernism Across the Sykes-Picot Line
Friday February 14, 2020
Friday, February 14th, 2020
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
97 Kenmare Street
New York, NY
Ines Weizman in conversation with Nora Akawi
On the occasion of the launch of Dust & Data: Traces of the Bauhaus Across 100 Years by Ines Weizman
The infamous Sykes-Picot line, based on a 1916 secret treaty between the UK and France, partitioned the former Ottoman Empire and established mutually agreed upon spheres of influence between the UK, France, Russia, and Italy. It served to partially define the boundaries of what we now consider to be the Middle East, and has fed an endless conflict since. Drawing upon her recently published anthology Dust & Data, Ines Weizman (in conversation with Nora Akawi) will examine the hundred-year history of international modernism across the national and settler-colonial borders of the Middle East.
The Sykes-Picot Agreement established not only a line but a series of structures – British and French custom houses – that were built along its borders during the height of international modernism. Of the existing custom houses today, only two are within the jurisdiction of a single state. One of these, controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, was recently occupied and blown out. The other, in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, is considered a celebrated example of Bauhaus architecture, and is being converted into a hotel.
Using methods such as material analysis and documentation, Dust & Data includes a study of these buildings that connect them to the complex history of colonial control and occupation in the region, but also to modern architecture across Palestine and the Arab world, as well as to trans-Arabian infrastructures and routes of trade or exchange that are no more.
Ines Weizman is Director of the Bauhaus Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture and Planning and Professor of Architectural Theory at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. She is Founding Director of the Centre for Documentary Architecture (CDA). Weizman is the editor of the recently released publication Dust & Data: Traces of the Bauhaus across 100 Years, published with Spector Books, Leipzig (2019). In 2014, she was editor of Architecture and the Paradox of Dissidence, published by Routledge. Her book Before and After: Documenting the Architecture of Disaster, co-written with Eyal Weizman, was published in the same year by Strelka Press. Weizman has also worked on exhibitions and installations such as Repeat Yourself: Loos, Law, and the Culture of the Copy, exhibited at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, as well as solo shows at the Architecture Centre in Vienna and the Buell Center at Columbia University, New York (2013). Other research and exhibition projects include: Celltexts: Books and Other Works Produced in Prison (2008, with Eyal Weizman), first exhibited at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin and The Matter of Data (2019), which was shown in Weimar and Tel Aviv, and is currently on view at the Architektur Galerie Berlin.
Nora Akawi is an architect based in New York City. She is Assistant Professor of Architecture at The Cooper Union. Her research and teaching lie at the intersections of displacement, erasure, and memory within architecture—drawing from the areas of migration and border studies, mapping practices, and archive theory. Prior to joining The Cooper Union, Nora taught urban design and history/theory at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) at Columbia University. In 2012, she joined Columbia GSAPP and the Columbia Global Centers as Director of Studio-X Amman, a platform dedicated to advancing critical discourse in architecture in the Arab world through public programming, exhibitions, and publications, and other educational projects. Most recently, Nora curated Al Majhoola Min Al-Ard (“This Land’s Unknown”) at the Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans 2019, and co-curated Friday Sermon, the Bahrain Pavilion exhibition in the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennial. She has co-edited books such as Friday Sermon (2018) and Architecture and Representation: The Arab City (2016). Akawi’s recently published work includes “Mapping Borderlands: Drawing From the Jawlan” in GTA Papers 2: War Zones (ETH Zürich, 2019) and “Worlding From the South” in Manifesta 12: Palermo Atlas, (OMA / Humboldt Books, 2018). Nora is a graduate of the Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices in Architecture program at Columbia University (MS.CCCP, 2011).