The relationship between architecture and violence is up for debate in City and Other Policies | Tabakalera - Donostia / San Sebastián
15-10-2018 12:30

The relationship between architecture and violence is up for debate in City and Other Policies

The seventh edition of the programme directed by Ula Iruretagoiena, Ibon Salaberria and Blanca Pujals takes place on October 19th and 20th. The event will be attended by international experts including Guatemalan human rights activist Lolita Chávez, writer Hedoi Etxarte, artists Iratxe Jaio and Klaas van Gorkum as well as Sarajevan architect Armina Pilav and Jerusalem born and London based artist Ariel Caine.


City and Other Policies: Geography and Forms of Power returns to Tabakalera. This seventh edition will take place on October 19th and 20th, and as in previous years will include the participation of prominent figures from the world of research into the power and violence relationships which arise between structures and bodily experiences based on the hypothesis that architecture generates violence. The sessions can be attended in person and streamed via

From 18:00 during the first day on October 19th, Tabakalera will be joined by an exceptional guest: the Guatemalan activist Lolita Chávez Ixcaquic. Chávez is an international leader in the struggle to preserve natural resources and to denounce the forced displacement of peoples from their land due to extractivism by foreign and governmental companies. Hence, she is threatened, pursued, criminalised and persecuted and is under the protection of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. In 2017 she was a nominee for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought awarded by the European Parliament.

The presentation by the Guatemalan activist will open up a conversation about regional and environmental violence and how this impacts the indigenous bodies and groups who call the affected regions their home.

The event on October 20th will be divided into two sessions. In the morning (10:00-14:00) we will be joined by writer Hedoi Etxarte and artists Iratxe Jaio and Klaas van Gorkum. Their presentation will be followed by a debate led by the multitalented Xabier Gantzarain.

Etxarte will focus on historical memory and public space, while the exhibition from Iratxe Jaio and Klaas van Gorkum will focus on official and unofficial memories and how these are used to take control of the landscape. Their starting point is a stela in the village of Urbina in the Spanish province of Álava.

In the afternoon, Sarajevan architect Armina Pilav and Jerusalem born and London based artist Ariel Caine will take the reins. From 16:00 to 20:00 they will offer conclusions on their respective investigations before another guided debate, this time with the Catalan architect Blanca Pujals at the helm.

In her presentation, Armina Pilav will analyse the implications in war and non-war environments using the Bosnian War (1992 - 1996) as an example. Ariel Caine will look at three projects carried out in Jerusalem, in the Negev desert (Israel) and in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq. He will also examine the political potential of DIY and spatial analysis methodologies in the hands of the people.


City and Other Policies

City and Other Policies, part of Tabakalera’s Public Programme, began in 2013 before construction work on the International Centre for Contemporary Culture had even finished. The cycle is now in its seventh edition thanks to coordination by the architects Ula Iruretagoiena and Ibon Salaberria. This team was joined in recent editions by the Catalan architect Blanca Pujals.



Place: Tabakalera (Z Hall)


Friday October 19th

18:00-20:00: Lolita Chávez. Territory Conflicts / Aboriginal People. Spanish.


Saturday October 20th

10:00-10:15: Presentation 

10:15-11:00: Hedoi Etxarte. Language: EU. Translation: ES & EN.

Title: Violence, Memory, Public Space

Who do the town squares belong to? Which deceased people deserve a plaque? Why do we have to put sculptures in the middle of roundabouts? What is public space? What do Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin and Manuel Delgado think about these issues?

11:00-11:45: Jaio Iratxe + Klaas van Gorkum. Language: EU. Translation: ES & EN.

Title: The Stick and the Stone

The focus of our talk will be a stela, or commemorative monument, in the municipality of Urbina (Álava). It was built as a tribute to three German soldiers belonging to the Condor Legion during the Civil War. Since its construction, different ideologies have used it as a source of debate and it had undergone various modifications before its recent disappearance. We do not know what happened to it, but it seems that the only trace left of the monument is a mould made by us. With this as a starting point, we will talk about official and unofficial memorials, and how to appropriate the landscape through them.

11:45-12:00: Break.

12:00-14:00: Conversation led by Xabier Gantzarain. Language: EU. Translation: ES & EN.


16:15-16:00: Presentation

16:15-17:00: Armina Pilav.  Language: EN. Translation: EU & ES.

Title: Transforming Violence

The talk will discuss entanglements of war and un-war spaces taking example of wartime in Sarajevo and Mostar (1992 - 1996). In the transitional space between military destructions and inhabitants’ non-violent reaction to it, the attempt is to look at the non-violent human practices of survival body, collective documenting, communing and sharing of the homes and shelters during the war, ephemeral architectures made from fear and for survival. During the talk, we will also explore the spatial and cultural languages of the un-war spaces learned from the archival images: photography, videos and texts.

17:00-17:45: Ariel Caine.  Language: EN. Translation: EU & ES.

Title: Granular Realism. Examining methods for collaborative photographic spatial testimonies

Over the last decade, 3D scanning and spatial imaging technologies have been rapidly permeating the fields of archaeology, architecture, civil engineering as well as resource driven industries and military. While they have been restructuring them from the inside these new technologies and their forms of practice have been shifting the conditions of visibility. They have been used as a means of violence and obfuscation but simultaneously open up new spaces for civic led intervention and resistance. In this talk I wish to consider some of the ways in which together with practitioners, researchers and activists we have been repurposing such imaging tools, bringing together computational, spatial and DIY ground and aerial photography to offer a form of practice that is diffused, collaborative and architectural, producing what we term “spatial testimony”, documenting and exposing the spatial evidence for systemic rights abuse in a state of visual and political colonisation.

During the talk we will unpack three projects, in Jerusalem, in the negev desert (Israel) and in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq, and through them examine the political potentials of DIY and citizen-led spatial survey methodologies.

17:45-18:00: Break.

18:00-19:15: Conversation led by Blanca Pujals.  Language: EN. Translation: EU & ES.

19:15-20:00: Summary of the Geographies and Forms of Power project