CCA chief curator Giovanna Borasi and artist Nabil Ahmed presented their recent work on the relation between architecture, territory and health, followed by an open conversation with Andrea Bagnato (research fellow at HNI). In this Reading Room, historical examples were put in a dialogue with recent epidemics to explore infectious diseases from a spatial point of view.
Today, epidemics are an increasingly frequent feature in the news. Recent outbreaks like SARS and Ebola have shown that the microscopic scale of virus and bacteria is connected with the large scale of globalization and environmental change. At the same time, the fear of epidemics is continuously used to marginalize whoever is considered Other.
In this Reading Room, Giovanna Borasi revisited the acclaimed project Imperfect Health: The Medicalization of Architecture; Nabil Ahmed responded by drawing upon his work on water contamination in the Bengal Delta.
The evening combined old and new visual material to retrace the relation between architecture, cities and health—and discussed disease and contagion as both spatial and political questions.
Nabil Ahmed is an artist, writer and researcher, and a lecturer at The Cass, London Metropolitan University. He holds a PhD from the Centre for Research Architecture, with a doctoral thesis that evidenced the coupling of human conflict and natural environments (cyclones and war of independence, water pollution and development, corporate mining and indigenous self-determination) in Bangladesh and West Papua.
Andrea Bagnato is a lecturer at Piet Zwart Institute and a fellow at Het Nieuwe Instituut, where he is studying the relation between urbanization and epidemic diseases. He has a background in architecture, editing and research; he edited SQM: The Quantified Home (Lars Müller, 2014) and the forthcoming The State of the Art of Architecture (Lars Müller, 2017).
Giovanna Borasi is chief curator at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal. She has worked on research projects, exhibitions, and publications on the influence of environmental and social issues on urban planning and contemporary architecture, among which Imperfect Health (Lars Müller/CCA, 2012) and The Other Architect (Spector Books/CCA, 2015).
The Reading Room is a series of evenings dedicated to the act of collective reading. It is a place to decipher and interpret the world with its countless languages and systems, including phenomena that by their ubiquity evade investigation. Led by an artist, researcher or designer, a small audience will reflect upon a concept, a text, an object or an image. The Reading Room is a space for intimate, provocative conversations. It is a place for creative confusion and sometimes even frustration, in which speakers and audience are not looking for concrete solutions but for higher resolutions. Subjects in previous Reading Rooms include exhibition, surveillance, migration, liquidity, museum, insecurity.