May 19, 2016

Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti named recipients of the 2016–2017 Keith Haring Fellowship in Art and Activism

The Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College
Photo: Carlo Favero.

The Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (CCS Bard) and the Human Rights Project at Bard College are pleased to announce that Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti, architects and critics based in Beit Sahour, Palestinian Territories, have been selected as the third recipients of the Keith Haring Fellowship in Art and Activism. Made possible through a five-year grant from the Keith Haring Foundation, the Haring Fellowship is an annual award for a scholar, activist, or artist to teach and conduct research in the Center for Curatorial Studies and the Human Rights Project. Hilal and Petti will take up their one-year appointment in September 2016, and spend the spring semester of 2017 teaching at the College. They succeed the New Delhi-based artist and curator Shuddhabrata Sengupta, who held the fellowship for 2015–16, and the first recipient, Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk.

Hilal and Petti’s work moves between art, architecture, and pedagogy. They are founding members and codirectors of the Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency (DAAR), an architectural office and artist residency program in Beit Sahour that combines conceptual speculations and architectural interventions. Alongside art and architectural practice, they are also engaged in critical pedagogy, notably as founders of “Campus in Camps, an experimental educational program hosted in Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem.

They describe their practice as taking place in a range of contexts: “in built architectural structures, in the formation of critical learning environments, in interventions that challenge dominant collective narratives, in the production of new political imaginations, and in the formation of civic spaces.”  They have exhibited their work at many venues internationally, including the Venice Art and Architecture Biennales, 31st Bienal de São Paulo, Red Cat in Los Angeles, Creative Time in New York City, and 2015 Asian Art Biennial in Taiwan, among many others.

Long before the current “refugee crisis,” Hilal and Petti focused their imagination and energy on the lives and representations of refugees, and explored ways of creating, in their words, “different social, political and spatial relationships between people, state and territory beyond the liberal notion of citizenship.” Their recent architectural projects include the design of a girls school in the Shufat refugee camp in Jerusalem, a “Concrete Tent” in Dheisheh refugee camp (a pavilion that they say “embodies the contradiction of the permanent temporariness of Palestinian refugees”), and a public square in Fawwar camp, near Hebron.

In 2010, Hilal and Petti received the Prince Claus Award, which honored DAAR for its “nontraditional approach to development in conflict and postconflict situations, for providing valuable speculation on the future realities of disputed territories, for its critical challenge to outdated urban planning theories based on a more peaceful world, and for highlighting the role of architecture and visualization in creating and altering the frontiers of reality.”

“The Haring Fellowship honors the life and work of a courageous activist who could draw like no one before him,” said Thomas Keenan, director of Bard’s Human Rights Project. “Alessandro Petti and Sandi Hilal are rooted firmly in that tradition: critically sharp, practically engaged, theoretically adventurous, and rich in imagination and provocation.”


Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti named recipients of the 2016–2017 Keith Haring Fellowship in Art and Activism at Bard College

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