In this new exhibition at Red Star Line Museum, Antwerp, in the large hall of the old shipyard, a place from where, thousands of people took the ship during centuries to Staten Island, New York, Roza El Hassan proposes a poignant installation about migration, home and belonging. El Hassan explores ideas of how to build a bridge between the ancient heritage and the ruins of modernist dreams, how to combine old and new techniques to create human living and collecting water in the desert and reflects on the loneliness of the female observer facing the disaster of the present time migrations.
El Hassan reflects on huge modernist cities that were build in desert and outskirts of old towns, huge blocks, which stand now empty in no man's land. It was a way of centralized planning to build housing projects for hundreds of thousands of people – later nobody moved in. The cities stand like ghost towns often in desert. Some of these cities we find in China, one of the biggest empty desert cities is near Cairo.
Filmmaker Belgian Aglaia Konrad discovered the Egyptian ‘Desert Cities’ during a brief visit to Cairo in 1992, becoming intrigued by the vast scale of this long term project. The project she instigated explores the application of modernist principles to the architecture of the new cities that have been emerging over the last 15 years, but still seem hardly occupied. Reflecting on these dwellings that developed alongside archeological sites in an exoticised landscape, the project questions urban planning strategies in a society where the consequences of recent social reforms have not yet fully materialised.’ (vimeo
When I saw the film Desert Cities by Aglaia Konrad and her lecture on vimeo, I was reminded of so many experiences from Syria and had suddenly so many ideas how build a bridge between the ancient heritage and the ruins of modernist dreams, how to combine old and new techniques of collecting water. Some of these drawings you see here. Her film reflected also the loneliness of the female observer facing the disaster. There is no life without water.
My ideas are to reinvent the old techniques like the amphora and underground huge water- tanks, cisterns - build during the roman empire and also later in Syria – Huge underground gothic cathedrals were filled with water in the crusaders’ castles and in the villages during the winter and kept the water clean and cold for the summer. Could we create underground water reservoirs in the desert cities ?
ROZA EL HASSAN
, Underground Water
ROZA EL HASSAN
, Water Carrier
ROZA EL HASSAN
, Water Tank
Róza El-Hassan was born in 1966 of Hungarian-Syrian parentage in Budapest, Hungary, where she is currently living. Her extensive graphical and sculptural works have been shown at various international institutions among others at the Secession, Vienna (2000), Drawing Center, NY (2003) Mu¨csarnok/Kunsthalle, Budapest (2006) and Kunstmuseum Basel (2012) Future’s Dialect a two woman show with Martha Rosler, at Kunstraum Riehen/Basel, (2016) and A World Not Ours
(curated by Katerina Gregos) at the Schwarz Foundation Pythagorion, Greece (2016) along with videos, installations and performances. Her works examine contemporary history, sociopolitical and philosophical issues and her new series of projects focusing on social design and ecological architecture. Róza El-Hassan portrays human complexity from all relevant dimensions: social, political, environmental, psychological, emotional and symbolic Artistic and political actions are inextricably linked for her. She works on individual projects, cooperates with other artists and is active as a curator and blogger.