Writing Sumayya Vally
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2021 e-flux Architecture

Conditions: Golden Plateaus

The Global South is not a region. It is an archipelago that has survived empire, colonialism, and capitalist extraction. Each island embodies a struggle to sustain alternative ways of being in the world—a rebellion against extinction that has been going on for centuries. The inaugural Sharjah Architecture Triennial, titled Rights of Future Generations, is an attempt to look for some of these conditions, or sites of resistance to dominant modes of living. Which ecologies support the current state of things, and which ecologies can resist it? Which conditions produce non-exploitative relationships between humans and other beings, and between those who are here, those who have gone, and those yet to come? Architecture has a fundamental role in imagining other, less extractive forms of coexistence in the face of the climate crisis. The possibility to think across extended lineages and complex networks of kinship is at the heart of this challenge.

Ritual and residue create a new landscape on the host territory; the in-between becomes inhabited in the photograph, occupied both in an instant and forever. The border or fuzzy line offers political quarantine as a space itself, escaping the rules of its bordering zones. All sorts of new practices, languages, and other strange things emerge here. And apart from the gaze of some nosey celestial being, these phenomena remain largely unrecognized as sites of production for context-specific mutants of cultures, ecologies, and political arrangements. Mine dumps, originally used as a divisive urban tool—massive mountains of toxic separation between economically suppressed races—have become pedestrian thoroughfares for children, sites for illegal mining, and a place to conduct baptisms.

– Sumayya Vally

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Notes