The Politics of Preservation

Mon 12 December 2022, 6pm - 8pm at Delfina Foundation, 29-31 Catherine Pl, London SW1E 6DY

Photograph looking up from ground to roof of a dovecote

(Photo credit: Avşar Gürpınar)

Artists Wesam Al Asali, FRAUD and Nastassja Simensky come together to bring a critical framing to the concept of preservation. Embracing different methodologies and spanning diverse contexts – from the Syrian conflict, to pre and postindustrial England – their practices shed light on issues of accountability, agency, power and ownership.

Currently in-residence at Delfina Foundation, Wesam Al Asali will introduce his ongoing research into practices of food preservation in Syria in the wake of the conflict. Focusing on the shift of these practices into domestic and cooperative spaces, he examines their role as an alternative form of governance and sustenance.

Departing from their ongoing concern with resource extraction, FRAUD (Audrey Samson and Francisco Gallardo) will present their research into the circulation of phosphate mined for agricultural fertilisers, from the Bu Craa mine in Western Sahara to the planet’s fields and ocean beds, considering how fertiliser has modulated elemental architectures of power.

Using film, archival material and audio, Nastassja Simensky will give an insight into her research on changing land use in (post)industrial South Wales, considering the shifting relationships to preservation, loss and the memorialisation of natural and cultural heritage assemblages that are unruly, accumulative and persistent.

This panel discussion is co-hosted by Delfina Foundation as part of its Politics of Food programme. The panel will be moderated by Stefanie Lotter of SOAS University.

Booking

Booking is free but necessary, and is being managed by the Delfina Foundation. Please click here to book. 

Accessibility

Accessibility information can be found here.

Wesam Al Asali is an architect, educator and researcher with experience in building crafts, structural design, and local building materials. His work explores and emphasises the role of culture and society in rethinking how cities are grown and consumed in the context of climate challenges. Focusing on the Middle East and Latin America, Wesam’s practice engages with the role of “scarcity” as a heuristic process rooted in the situated production and inhabitation of the built environment. During his residency at Delfina Foundation, as part of The Politics of Food programme, Wesam is investigating how domestic architecture in Syria was transformed into machines for food production, processing, and storing during the last ten years of the war’s severe scarcity of resources and energy.

FRAUD (Audrey Samson & Francisco Gallardo) is a London-based duo of artist/researchers which develop modes of art-led enquiry that examine the extractive gaze of the management of raw materials. Through their practice, FRAUD cultivate critical spatial literacy and cosmology building. Audrey is a Senior Lecturer in the Art Department at Goldsmiths. Somerset House Studios alumni, the duo has been awarded the State of Lower Saxony – HBK Braunschweig Fellowship (2020), the King’s College Cultural Institute Grant (2018), and has been commissioned by Contemporary Art Archipelago (2022), the Istanbul Design Biennial (2020), RADAR Loughborough (2020), and the Cockayne Foundation (2018). Francisco is an architect who was awarded the Wellcome Trust People Awards (2016) and authored ‘Talking Dirty’ published by Arts Catalyst (2016). He is studio tutor in architecture at Loughborough University. The duo’s work is part of the permanent collections of the European Investment Bank Institute (LU) and the Art and Nature Center – Beulas Foundation (SP).

Nastassja Simensky is an artist who often works collaboratively to make writing, place-specific performances, events, sound work and films as a form of ongoing fieldwork. Nastassja is currently completing a PhD the Slade and coordinates the Archaeology-Heritage-Art Research Network at UCL. Commissions and residencies include: Receiver, Focal Point Gallery; Rings on Water, FPG Sounds commission; Art and Archaeology residency, West Dean College of Art and Conservation; SHERDS, Nottingham Contemporary; Zu Gast bei den KunstVereinenRuhr, Urbane Kunst Ruhr; Material Culture Unearthed, In-situ Brierfield; Radiophrenia, Centre for Contemporary Art Glasgow.

Stefanie Lotter is a social anthropologist, South Asia specialist, and museum/heritage professional working at SOAS, University of London. She co-convened the MA Museums, Heritage and Material Culture at SOAS before embarking on a four-year research project called ‘Heritage as Placemaking: The Politics of Solidarity and Erasure in South Asia’ where together with colleagues in Delhi, Heidelberg, and Kathmandu. In Nepal, where she was also the director of the South Asia Institute’s branch office (Heidelberg University), she also conducted fieldwork on elites and earthquake reconstruction, and in South Africa, where she was based as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg), she studied South Asian heritage practices in the former township of Lenasia. Ever since working as a community curator at the Horniman Museum in London, Stefanie has been fascinated by the question of how heritage practices are sustained by and sustain communities who uphold, forget or erase their past to create futures.

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