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17/10/2017

Verslaafd aan architectuur

Een artikel over de discussie rond de Biertempel en haar betekenis voor de architectuurcultuur in België

05/10/2017

Wafels, bier en architectuur

Een artikel naar aanleiding van de herbestemming van de Beurs in Brussel tot biertempel naar ontwerp van Robbrecht & Daem Architecten.

18/09/2017

Creatio ex nihilo

Column #1 over de oorsprongsmythen van de architectuur

03/08/2017

Zorg dragen voor architectuur

Artikel over gebruik en postproductie in de architectuur naar aanleiding van het Jozef Plein in PC Cartias (Melle).

20/06/2017

Do Good architectuur

Artikel over de rol van ontwerp in zorgarchitectuur.

18/03/2017

Sprak er iemand over healing environment ?

Lees hier over de bijdrage van Charles Jencks en de postmoderne architectuur aan de ontmanteling van de kliniek.

22/02/2017

Pic Nic Architectuur

Een retroactief manifest voor Pic Nic the Streets als bijdrage aan de architectuurcultuur in België. Version Française

13/02/2017

Wraak op de commons

Een artikel over het nakende einde voor Agrocité en de toekomst voor architectuur onder zelfbeheer.

03/02/2017

Architectuur van de schaamteplek

Wie grip wil krijgen op de problemen van in psychiatrische ziekenhuizen, begint bij het ontwerp van de isolatiekamer.

22/12/2016

Van Utopia naar Wuustwezel

Er zijn weinig termen die zo’n beladen betekenis hebben in de architectuurgeschiedenis als utopie. Version Français

21/12/2016

Relational Architecture

Read about the production proces of the Kanunnik Petrus Jozef Triest Square in the Psychiatric Centre Caritas, Melle. Article in DutchEnglish / French

12/12/2016

Hoeveel samenwerking kan architectuur verdragen?

Artikel over de tentoonstelling 'Ensembles. Architectuur en Ambachtschap' in deSingel en Vlaams Architectuurinstituut.

15/10/2016

Bouwstenen voor het psychiatrisch centrum van de toekomst

Lees meer over de visieontwikkeling rond het psychiatrisch centrum van de toekomst gepubliceerd in Psyche.

03/10/2016

Eco-politiek in Brussel: Bas Smets en de Brussels Urban Landscape Biennial

Artikel over het nut en nadeel van landschapsarchitectuur als instrument voor regionale ontwikkeling in Brussel.

28/09/2016

Architectuur vol van verlangen

Artikel naar aanleiding van de opening van het Kanunnik Petrus Jozef Triest Plein in Melle.

26/09/2016

(Re)Politicize!

Proud to present the A+261 issue on architecture and politics - Dutch and French edition.

21/09/2016

Architectuur met schaduw

De 20ste eeuw baarde vele duivelspacten tussen architectuur en politiek. Opvallend genoeg wordt de architectuur van het Italiaanse fascisme tot op vandaag geprezen omwille van haar abstracte vormentaal. Dergelijke rehabilitatie is de architectuur van het Derde Rijk nooit te beurt gevallen. België heeft zo zijn eigen kleine trauma in de relatie met de politiek.

24/06/2016

Ingebedde architecten

Lees meer over de architectuur van oorlog en vrede

07/06/2016

Vakmannen aan het front

Een recensie over de bijdrage van Bravoure in de Architectuurbiennale van Venetie.

04/06/2016

Toiletemmers in Werelderfgoed

Er is iets curieus met de inrichting van de gevangenis van Merksplas, waar enkele weken geleden een opstand uitbrak. De geschiedenis van de site reflecteert een utopisch beeld van de gevangenis van de toekomst, de manier waarop omgegaan wordt met die geschiedenis symboliseert dan weer de gemiste kansen.

04/12/2015

FPC Gent: geen markt, geen gevangenis

De opening van het Forensisch Psychiatrisch Centrum in Gent zorgt na één jaar werking voor een grote opluchting - zelfs bij voormalige critici. De juiste vraag is niet of aanvankelijke bezorgheid terecht was, maar wel of de opluchting niet een beetje voorbarig is? 


28/10/2015

Het penitentiair verdriet van België

In de bouw van het gevangenisdorp Haren vormen de lokale en regionale overheid samen front met de actiegroepen tegen de federale overheid - of toch niet? Hoe kunnen we de knoop tussen activisme en politiek ontwarren?

23/10/2015

Een psychiatrisch centrum bouwen we samen

Ook architectuur heeft zijn plaats op de Vlaamse Hersteldagen. Doe mee op 18 november in de Vooruit.

01/09/2015

Eindelijk een kennisplatform voor humane gevangenisarchitectuur

De website www.prisongear.be presenteert het onderzoek naar een humane gevangenisarchitectuur.

07/04/2015

Ontmanteling van de psychiatrische kliniek

Lees de gevalstudies over zorgarchitectuur in Vlaanderen gepubliceerd in Psyche

22/10/2014

Een sterke leefomgeving begint met ruimteregie

Wat deelt een onafgewerkte verkeersinfrastructuur in Godsheide, een vervallen vierkantshoeve in Grote Spouwen, een gesloten mijnkatedraal in de Eisdense Tuiwijk en een geplande gevangenis op Domein Riegersvliet?


21/08/2014

Wie is er bang van het Bouwmeestercollege?

Iedereen lijkt het roerend eens dat de Vlaamse architectuur zonder de Bouwmeester overgeleverd is aan de wetten van de markt en de willekeur van het politieke bedrijf. Lees de opinie 'De Bouwmeester en de onheilsprofeten'.

20/12/2013

A humane prison is coming to your neighbourhood

As part of the Conflict & Design Triennial the knowledge platform Prison Gear presents design studies that pave the way for a humane prison in Leopoldsburg, Belgium.

16/12/2013

Een humane gevangenis komt naar je toe

Als onderdeel van de Conflict & Design Triënnale presenteert Prison Gear twee visieontwerpen voor de toekomstige gevangenis op het militaire domein Reigersvliet in Leopoldsburg.

09/10/2013

Limburg City / Stad Limburg

Read the memorandum of the Limburg Europa Workshop / Lees de projectnota van Atelier Limburg Europa

15/09/2013

The dismantling of the psychiatric clinic

Read the case studies on care architecture in Flanders

21/08/2013

Wat is ontwerpend onderzoek?

Drie vragen over ontwerpend onderzoek, drie antwoorden vanuit de Noorderkempen.

10/04/2013

Heeft een gemeenplaats ook een gemene waarde ?

Commentaarstuk bij het Architectuurboek n° 10: Radicale Gemeenplaatsen - Europese architectuur uit Vlaanderen

03/02/2013

Is onzichtbare psychiatrische zorg mogelijk?

Review van de opstart Pilootprojecten Zorg door de Vlaams Bouwmeester

06/11/2012

Limburg heeft ambitie / Limburg has ambition

Presentatie van de Startnota Provinciaal Bouwmeester Limburg / Presentation Initial Memo Limburg Government Architect

12/10/2012

Hoeveel vernieuwing kan de gevangenis verdragen ?

Lees hoe de modernisatie van de gevangenisarchitectuur in handen van Stéphane Beel begon en eindige bij het Ducpétiaux-model.

12/07/2012

San Gimignano aan de Zenne

Lees de column naar aanleiding van de Keukentoren van XDGA

11/04/2012

Sociaal-realisme of zelfcensuur

Met Jonas Staal schreef BAVO een pleidooi voor een nieuw sociaal-realisme in de kunst. Sociaal-realisme is broodnodig in het tijdperk van de hysterische reproductie.

21/02/2012

Nu ook een schreeuw om architectuur!

Niet occupy-en, maar de gevestigde orde verleiden om in crisistijden te investeren in leuke projecten. Lees hier meer over de Studio for Unsollicited Architecture.

20/01/2012

Gesloten architectuur is ook humaan

Lees meer over Fleur Agema's gevangenismodel

21/11/2011

Waarom kunstenaars niet fascistisch genoeg zijn

Lees het artikel in het decembernummer van Rekto:Verso.

12/09/2011

De Culturele Elite

Lees de bijdrage.

29/08/2011

Artist Participation in South Africa

The international PR campaign to showcase Rotterdam's robust policy on artist participation is now also tapping into the emerging African art markets.

17/06/2011

Denkverbod op liberale kunst

Column over de stellingenoorlog naar aanleiding van de aangekondigde bezuinigingen in de cultuursector.

07/06/2011

Maak liberaal kunstbeleid liberaal

Lees BAVO's advies aan staatssecretaris Zijlstra met betrekking tot de noodgedwongen keuzen die de cultuursector in Nederland te wachten staat.

18/03/2011

International promotion campaign of the Office for Artist Participation kicks off

The City of Edinburgh will be the first to host an international promotion event of Rotterdam's innovative cultural policies for enforcing the participation of artists in heightening a city's competitiveness and securing social peace on the local level.

28/02/2011

Culture and Contestation

The essay 'Neo-Liberalism with Dutch Characteristics: The Big Fix-Up of the Netherlands and the Practice of Embedded Cultural Activism' is published in the book volume 'Culture and Contestation in the New Century'.

19/01/2011

Art and Activism

BAVO's essay 'Artists... one more effort to be really political!' is published in the volume 'Art and Activism in the age of Globalisation'.

20/10/2010

Boek verschenen: Too Active To Act

Het boek biedt een kritische analyse van de maatschappelijke betrokkenheid van culturele actoren in Nederland in de afgelopen tien jaar.

EUREGIONAL FORUM

The one-sidedness of Europe’s borders / Report EF lecture Lieven De Cauter

project: EUREGIONAL FORUM

date: 28/05/2009

author: BAVO

source: Euregional Forum Newspaper

status: review

The Euregional Lecture Series was kicked off on 7 May 2009 by cultural philosopher Lieven De Cauter. In the form of a travelogue, De Cauter exposed the extreme and inhumane conditions at some of Europe’s most heavily fortified border zones, such as the Spanish enclave Ceuta in Northern Africa. He also discussed the complete absence of this issue in the daily news and public debates.

 

 

Reflections on the seams of the world

Revisiting the capsular civilisation

Lieven De Cauter used this occasion to talk about his visits to various locations – Ceuta and Melilla, Palestine, San Diego/Tijuana – that he had previously developed elaborate theories on without having actually seen them. His belated visit to these different border zones spread all over the world constituted not just a moral duty, but also served as a reality check. The extraordinary condition of these border zones turned out to surpass his theoretical expectations, when it became clear that the ‘new Iron Curtain of Europe’ is not just hard to cross for Africans in search of a better life: for European citizens, too, it can only be fragmentarily seen or felt – while it is, nevertheless, the place where decisions are made about who belongs inside or outside of the European Union. In order to fully divulge the shocking reality at the seams of the world, Lieven De Cauter decided not to be drawn into another philosophical exposé in the context of the Euregional Forum; instead, he kept strictly within the confines of a travelogue, illuminated with images, diary fragments and witness reports.

 

A dream falls apart

Lieven De Cauter first sketched the context in which his philosophical ideas around the ‘capsular civilisation’ – the tendency to isolate oneself, at an individual, urban and geopolitical level – came to fruition. It was an attempt to counterbalance the political discourse in the nineties of the last century, in as far as it was dominated by network theories and terms like globalisation, connection, smooth space and seamlessness. Two shocking experiences exploded this seemingly imperturbable optimistic discourse. In 1998, De Cauter read a small newspaper article about a wall that Spain was building around two of its enclaves on the Northern African coast: Ceuta and Melilla. This was followed, in September 1998, by the infamous Semira Adamu incident: a Nigerian political refugee, illegally staying in Belgium, who died as a result of heavy-handed police action during their sixth attempt at deporting her. To De Cauter, these two events summarise the contradiction of our globalised world: the image of a seamless world can only be maintained by numerous cunning manoeuvres, painful stitches and bloody interventions. Ceuta is a place and an event that unveils the painful and sharp stitches of our globalised world – dramatically visualised in Ad van Denderen’s famous photograph on the cover of De Cauter’s book ‘The Capsular Civilisation’. 

 

Some previous notes

De Cauter started his travelogue with several remarks intended to avoid a possible confusion of terminology. Thus, he was forced to correct one presumption: it is not barbed wire, but razor wire which will become the determining characteristic of 21st century urbanism. Furthermore, De Cauter adjusted the introduction to the evening, by stating that a border can never be described in terms of Giorgio Agamben’s phrase ‘(concentration) camp’. A border is rather a zone where people lose their rights and citizenship and can only lay claim to their own bodies – which Agamben calls ‘naked living’ or ‘Zoé’. The famous collage of Rem Koolhaas’ early project ‘Exodus’ is a sublime representation of this logic. On the other hand, De Cauter does agree with the introductory statement that the borders of Europe are not remote phenomena, but lie splintered across the entire European territory. One painful manifestation of this is the notorious Dutch prison boat. The prison boat also shows the unavoidable fallacy of the notion of humanising the problematic issue of illegal refugees, since the structural detention of illegal refugees is in fact totally inhuman. The picturesque photograph by Belgian Magnum photographer Raoul De Keyser, which he made for Lieven De Cauter’s installation at the Rotterdam Architecture Biennial, depicts sublimely – in the tradition of Dutch landscape paintings – how the prison boat is not even a prison, but rather a cage for naked living. De Cauter finally states that we cannot forget that, in the end, all of us are involved – willy-nilly – in the wall at Ceuta, since it is being paid for with European means, which is to say, with all of our tax money. 

 

 

Travelogue of a journey to the unresolved borders of Europe

Destination Ceuta

The all-encompassing, drastic character of Europe’s outer borders turns out to be a great contrast to its often ephemeral, hard to trace existence. The wall at Ceuta – only 7/8 km long – is surrounded by a heavily militarised zone and is therefore practically unapproachable. Its limited visibility, however, turns out to be inversely proportional to its mental presence locally. A night-time photograph showing people storming the razor wire leaves nothing to the imagination: the few who succeed in climbing the fence are summarily shot by the border police. It took a lot of effort for Lieven De Cauter and his partners (Office KGDVS architects Kersten Geers and David van Severen, and photographer Bas Princen) to glimpse a small fragment of the wall, disappearing into the hilly landscape – the very same fragment on Ad van Denderen’s photograph. This fragmentary experience has taught De Cauter why there are only few people who know about the existence of this “20 km-long monument” with its horrible scenes of terror. The only possible solution for the harrowing predicament at the wall of Ceuta, in De Cauter’s opinion, is to reform this old free port into a special territory managed by the UN. Or, another solution might be along the lines of the poetic-architectonic proposal by Office KGDVS, which transforms the border crossing from a zone of naked living into an idyllic border oasis.

 

The Palestinian border of Europe

Lieven De Cauter continued his story by reading fragments from his ‘Palestinian Diary: feast in a war zone’. Many people will think it strange to see the Palestinian wall – erected by Israelis on Palestinian territory – presented as an ‘unsolved border of Europe’. As a clarification, De Cauter refers to Israeli historian Ilan Pappé, who in his fascinating, horrific and, above all, controversial book ‘The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’ describes the Israeli occupation of Palestine as the last colonial project of Europe – a project carried out by European Jews. Based on detailed maps, De Cauter shows how the Palestinian territory has shrunk, over the years, to what is known today as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. However, a map drawn up by Israeli researcher Eyal Weizman for peace group Bet’Salem shows that one can hardly speak of ‘the’ West Bank: even though the territory falls under Palestinian self-government, there are nonetheless numerous places and corridors controlled by the Israeli army. As a result, the West Bank is just an archipelago of enclaves closed off by checkpoints and corridors, safeguarding transport for Israeli citizens. From that point of view, De Cauter maintains that the Palestine territories are definitely borders of Europe, comparable to the better-known border sites between Europe and Africa.

 

Destination Hebron

The diary notes written by De Cauter after his visit to Hebron further enhance Weizman’s analysis: the Palestinian city of Hebron itself turns out to be just an archipelago of enclaves, too. In the old centre of Hebron 4,000 Israeli soldiers protect the lives of 450 settlers – while the city centre used to be inhabited by 130,000 people –, thus rendering any normalcy and activity out of the question. The only thing the Palestinian citizens can do is to continue their political struggle in the field of heritage preservation and their struggle to develop the renovated, lifeless Hebron ‘ kasbah’ for tourism. Moreover, the nets hanging over the streets to capture the garbage that the Jewish settlers throw down from the upper city worsen the symbolic ‘gnawing’ at the heart of the city. As a result, the ‘encroachments’ of the Palestinian border take place at a physical, immediately noticeable micro-level – in contrast to the wall at Ceuta, which makes exclusion visible for everybody, yet at the same time allows for a degree of distance due to its continuous monumentality (as if it is actually a work of art by Christo’s Superstudio).

 

Concluding remark: A one-sided border

Once more, De Cauter cannot offer simple answers to this unsolved ‘Palestinian’ border of Europe. De Cauter does, however, see a symbolic gesture in the spontaneous action of a photographer who accompanied him and who did everything in his power to ‘shoot’ a picture of the marching soldiers. Another symbolic gesture which De Cauter recognises is the open recognition that, in the Palestinian conflict, there is only one side to the story.  All too often the assumption is put forward that we should remain realistic in the sensitive Palestinian issue and also take into account the problems of the Jewish settlers. But following Ilan Pappé, De Cauter pleads for the recognition that there are ‘no two sides in the Palestinian story’: “In a rape scene there is only one side. Just like, in the Holocaust, there is only one side to the story, in the Naqbah, too, there is only the one side to the story. It is insane to suggest there is also the side of the rapist to be considered, or that of the camp guard. In line with this, De Cauter states there is only one side in the conflict at the outer borders of Europe – it is insane to suggest that Europe, too, is a victim  of illegal immigration by Africans in search of a better life.

 

 

 

 

Questions

- In response to De Cauter’s eye witness accounts, sociologist Merijn Oudenampsen (researcher Design, JVE) expresses his amazement at the excessive focus on the outer borders of Fort Europe – as if the outer border determines whether you’re inside or outside of European territory. He stated that this idea underestimates the complex reality of Europe, which simultaneously internalises its borders (in the shape of, for instance, a computer system that determines who has a right to accommodation or a place of work) and externalises them (the organisation of admission tests in African countries).

 

Lieven De Cauter replied that the one process does not preclude the other, proposing the metaphor of the Russian doll: in Fort Europe you are never sure where or when you are ‘inside’ or ‘outside’. Which is why borders often seem to coincide with one’s own body: once you are designated as an illegal, you lose all rights to citizenship and you are always outside of Europe… because, officially, you are not present in the EU. But De Cauter wants to oppose Giorgio Agamben, saying that it nevertheless makes a world of difference to illegal immigrants whether they actually get to the EU and work here – even if it is as an illegal without rights – or whether they don’t even reach the EU.

 

- Cultural researcher Bas Heurings wondered about the general relevance of De Cauter’s visits to Ceuta and Hebron, other than the subjective and relatively superficial impressions of two very different locations.

 

Lieven De Cauter repeats his ambition, in light of the theme of ‘the unsolved borders of Europe’, to actually visit the borders and report on what he finds there, rather than reflecting on them in an abstract sense. He realises that this point of departure means that his lecture loses some of the originality and theoretical quality of his work on the capsular civilisation. In contrast to his recent book project ‘The return of the state of nature’, in which he, together with Rudi Laermans, sheds a theoretical light on the problematics from  Hobbes to Leo Strauss, from neo-cons to reality TV, the ‘Palestinian Diary’ especially is geared at a larger audience. Readers of the draft version of the Palestinian Diary confirm how accurately the Palestinian identity, facts and figures are brought to life by means of several walking seminars.

 

- Another question concerned De Cauter’s personal emotions during his visit to two very different border situations in Europe – the heavily guarded border between Spain and Morocco, and the tangle of borders between Israel and Palestine, disputed in a war. 

 

Lieven De Cauter pointed out that his experiences at the borders of Europe weren’t all sad, but above all a wondrous occurrence, with many beautiful moments – which is indicated in the subtitle to the ‘Palestinian Diary’:  ‘Feast in a war zone’. The narrative diary style is intended to transfer dry, distant information into a ‘subjective, intensely lived reality’, whereby you get to meet real people and empathise with their daily struggles. A personal experience can be the start of an idea: thus, a Palestinian artist once revealed to De Cauter that the double Palestinian identity of victim and terrorist sickened him – which also indicated the objective situation of the Palestinian in question as living entre chien et loup, the French expression for ‘twilight zone’.

 

- Design researcher Zelkjo Blace wonders about the reasons behind discussing two very iconographic and popular border situations, which are, moreover, easy to place in a critical discourse. He draws attention to the much milder and therefore much more complex border situation in the western part of the Balkans, in former Yugoslavia.  According to Blace, the knowledge of these borders of Europe is rather minimal, in terms of public opinion as well as research.

 

De Cauter replies that, in spite of their iconographic qualities, few people are really aware of the reality at the borders at Ceuta and Palestine. Mainstream news items talk about these border areas in clear-cut terms – ‘the’ West Bank –, creating the impression that these are closed entities that one can visit the next day. The iconographic quality of border situations thus blanks out the daily reality in Palestine, which is more like an ‘archipelago of enclaves’.  The accessible, novella-like report of De Cauter’s visits to Ceuta and Palestine is an attempt to bring this reality to the fore, through its commonplace perception.  He appeals to everyone to visit borders, too, and take note of their daily operation, past any iconographic quality.

 

- A last question referred to Giorgio Agamben’s concepts of ‘the camp’ and ‘naked living’ as the general condition of Western politics and civilisation. In his lecture, however, De Cauter seems to restrict the camp condition to specific border situations and specific subjects, like illegal refugees. The question is asked whether it is not necessary to expand the specific border subjectivity as described in the lecture and to depict it as a model of European citizenship. 

 

De Cauter radically rejects this idea of Agamben’s, since it lapses too much into a strict division between inside and outside, between law and lawlessness. In view of this rigid conceptualisation, Agamben lapses into a one-sided rejection of the constitutional state, without wanting to recognise its advantages – even though these advantages are very ambiguous and sometimes downright humiliating. The theoretical difficulty is that, for illegal refugees, it nonetheless makes a world of difference whether they finally get to stay in the USA or the EU and find work there – even if it is without ‘official papers’ – or whether they don’t get in at all. The previously mentioned metaphor of the Russian doll is an attempt to get a better understanding of this interwovenness of inside and outside, or law and lawlessness. De Cauter gives a positive twist to this idea by stating that the difficult inside/outside position of illegal persons can also offer political advantages in their struggle for recognition and rights.