Swiss Institute presents a newly commissioned lecture by Samia Henni

November 30, 2020

On the occasion of Haunted Haus, Swiss Institute is pleased to present a newly commissioned lecture by historian, educator and architectural theorist Samia Henni. In the spring of 2020, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic incited Henni to re-conceptualize her project “Housing Pharmacology,” originally commissioned for Manifesta 13 Marseille. Refocusing from her initial research on the legacies between colonialism, migration and housing industry in Marseille and France during the Glorious Thirties (1945-75), Henni turned her attention to France’s mid-March 2020 national lockdown policy that divided the population into two categories, “essential” and “nonessential” workers, and lacked accounting for the existence of unhoused populations.

After the first lockdown was lifted, Henni conducted conversations with Marseille’s inhabitants, and the project quickly transformed into a contemporary oral history and installation. In this talk, Henni will reveal the process behind making Housing Pharmacology, reflecting on her choices to expose and juxtapose the poisons and cures that the presence or absence of dwellings engendered in Marseille’s neighborhoods. She will consider the histories of the right to housing as well as human mortality, the conditions of the unhoused, the status of democratic psychiatry, questions of self-care and self-subsistence, and the presences and ghosts of migrant workers who participated in France’s rapid economic growth following World War II.

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