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blood, borders & belonging

by feminist architecture collaborative

© Verein für zeitgenössische Architektur 2020

blood, borders & belonging

Citizenship is something designed. It describes the state between rights protected and rights denied. The threshold of citizenship is not a binary relation between one’s body and a territory: he is a citizen and she is not. In reality, there is complex terrain between the two positions, and its experiences are further conditioned by gender, race, and class. The body who belongs is not enough. Rather, bodily claims to territory and nationality are mediated by a world of artifacts:  biomaterial, paper documents, scanners, and other physical interfaces between people and governments. The governing apparatus does not always recognize its subjects on the appropriate side of a line projected onto sand. Belonging to the nation is an experience through materials; it wears on the body.

In the uneven textures between holding citizenship and being without it, women are especially vulnerable to exception and expulsion. Nationality codes that inherit the terms of jus sanguinis (“right of blood” instead of  “right of the soil,” jus soli) confer nationality through patrilineal bloodline. Under such laws, women cannot reproduce citizenship; their blood does not pass as the material of belonging. In 25 countries around the world, jus sanguinis situates the body as a threshold of inclusion, a truth more certain than residency. But it continues to leave women out of the full protection of the rights of the citizen. When the paper document attests to the identity of its holder through paternity and nationality, women are challenged to present the proper evidence of their belonging. Women bear the immediate and existential consequences of being written out of the law, and the document enforces displacement.

This exhibition seeks possibility in counterfeits. It does not aim to produce papers that pass; but criticizes the very medium of national identity. The gallery wears the disguise of the passport office. Here, we examine the language of the law, legal documents, their methods of design and spaces of procurement. Does the identity document have capacity for inclusion? We respond to this question with unofficial tactics but great care. If the political subjectivity of womanhood is narrowly defined by the law, we must identify the techniques that design her citizenship. Somewhere between the bureaucratic interior of the Civil Status Department and the myth of blood-and-soil, Passport creates a site of encounter with the contemporary apparatus of jus sanguinis.

The research for this exhibition was partially produced in residence at the Lab at Darat al Funun in Amman, Jordan in December 2019-January 2020.

Opening 21.08.2020 at 7 pm
Exhibition 22.08. - 26.09.2020

feminist architecture collaborative

feminist architecture collaborative is a three-woman* architectural research enterprise aimed at disentangling the contemporary spatial politics of bodies, intimately and globally. Their projects traverse theoretical and material registers to locate new forms of architectural work through critical relationships with collaborators across continents and an expanding definition of Designer.

f-architecture are winners of the 2019 Architectural League Prize. Their research-based exhibition Como- Clinical Interiors of Beirut, originally installed at VI PER Gallery in Prague, has been presented by the Architectural League of New York, and at the NTU Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity in Singapore, where they are shortlisted for the 2019 Global Digital Art Prize. Their writing and work has appeared in Harvard Design Magazine, e-flux architecture, Ed, The Funambulist, PIN-UP and Real Review, and at institutions including Morgan Library and Museum, Studio-X Amman, Universität der Künste Berlin, the New School, and UN-Habitat. f-architecture is a former member of the GSAPP Incubator @ NEW INC, the incubator initiative of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York.

*Virginia Black, Gabrielle Printz, and Rosana Elkhatib co-founded f-architecture in 2016 as their shared alias for architectural work and criticism. They maintain their wily practice and their deep friendship in Brooklyn, New York.

Online talk 26.09.2020 at 7 pm CET / 1 pm EST

+ Gabrielle Printz, Virginia Black and Rosana Elkhatib (feminist architecture collaborative)

+ Elke Krasny

+ Nora Akawi

The exhibition is supported by the Austrian federal chancellery, the city of Vienna, the 4th district of Vienna and Frac Centre-Val de Loire.

All photos by