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Audio recording of WE HAVE NEVER BEEN URBAN, a lecture and discussion by Hamed Bukhamseen + Ali Ismail Karimi (Civil Architecture), presented as part of Alserkal Residency's 2018 summer programme on 16 July.
The residents invited urbanist and author Pierre Bélanger to expand upon the theme of his ongoing research, which looks to dismantle the political and environmental complexes which have defined landscape in the region over the past century.
The presentation was followed by a post-lecture conversation moderated by geographer and writer Ahmad Makia. Part of the group's discussion was looking at new ecological, social and political formations for the Middle East. In light of the complete bankruptcy of the architectural as a formal and political project in the Gulf, the conversation explored new systems and new natures through which to pose new modes of governance and life.
Pierre Bélanger is a landscape urbanist, author, curator, and educator. Contesting the imperialism of state building and institutional systems, Bélanger has published two core books on remapping states of engineering and militarism: Landscape as Infrastructure, and Ecologies of Power (co-authored with Alexander Arroyo). Additionally, Bélanger has published about the political, territorial, and spatial language of landscape in a recent issue of Harvard Design Magazine, Wet Matter, co-edited with Jennifer Sigler, as well as in the monograph of the 35th edition of the Pamphlet Architecture Series, Going Live: From States to Systems, profiling the visual representation of vegetal systems and different life forms. As a practicing designer and founder of the Landscape Infrastructure Lab, he received the Canada Prix de Rome in Architecture and was curator of the controversial Canada Pavilion and Exhibition Extraction at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. In collaboration with a range of creators and activists during the past decade, Bélanger will be releasing an edited volume titled Extraction Empire in Spring 2018, profiling the states, scales, and systems of Canada as the largest resource extraction nation on the planet.
Civil Architecture is a cultural practice preoccupied with the making of buildings and books about them. CIVIL asks what it means to produce architecture in a decidedly un-civil time, presenting a new civic character for a global condition. Since its founding by Hamed Bukhamseen and Ali Ismail Karimi, the practice has attracted a strong following for their provocative works and their offer of an alternate future to a nascent Middle East.
Ahmad Makia is a geographer from Dubai. He writes about wet matters, Gulf landscapes, and sex, particularly tormented expressions of masculinity. He also makes books.