For the fourth edition of the One Year-Long Research Project (2018–2019) ar/ge kunst has invited researcher and architect Lorenzo Pezzani (Trento/London) to take up residency in Bolzano. In his opening talk Pezzani will discuss the notion of the “Hostile environments” as the subject of his upcoming research in the South Tyrol.
In May 2012, the then UK Home Secretary Theresa May announced in an interview the introduction of new legislation in the field of immigration control aiming to “create here in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration. […] Work is under way”, she further explained, “to deny illegal immigrants access to work, housing and services, even bank accounts”. This process of making urban space unlivable for some is mirrored, at a global scale, by the ways in which certain environments (deserts, oceans and mountain ranges, including the Alps) are being weaponised to deter and expel migrants, often at the cost of their lives.
Starting from his own work on migration across the Mediterranean, Lorenzo Pezzani will explore how this practice of border control does not operate anymore by targeting and disciplining specific subjects, but rather by intervening on the milieu they traverse or inhabit. Here the environment, understood as a political-economic effect rather than a simple “natural” background to human action, stops being simply a site of power, and becomes one of its mode of operations. It is not only that the weather itself is being weaponised, as migrants are made to die of cold or heat; but that forms of racialised violence have become, in a certain sense, as pervasive as the climate. Beyond funnelling migrants across particularly treacherous terrains and keeping them in a state of permanent abandonment within cities, this atmospheric condition of power affects multiple modes of existence (human as well as more-than-human), particularly those that are classified as alien rather than native.
Lorenzo Pezzani is an architect and researcher. He is currently Lecturer in Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. Since 2011, he has been working on Forensic Oceanography, a collaborative project that critically investigates the militarized border regime in the Mediterranean Sea, and has co-founded the WatchTheMed platform. Together with several NGOs, scientists, journalists, and activist groups, he has produced maps, videos, installations and human right reports that attempt to document and challenge the ongoing death of migrants at sea. His work has been used as evidence in courts of law, published across different media and academic outlets, as well as exhibited and screened internationally in various institutions and biennials.