Probing the Terrain: Cunning Spatial Agency in the West Bank
Runa Johannessen (Norway 1978) is an architect, drawing on her background in spatial and visual practice in her academic research. She is currently pursuing her PhD studies at the University of Copenhagen on the topic of contemporary spatial formations in the West Bank, Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Her studies are based on several research visits to the West Bank, including a residency at Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency in Beit Sahour, OPT (2011), and International Peace and Cooperation Centre, East Jerusalem (2014). In addition to academic research, Johannessen teaches architecture students at the MA program ‘Political Architecture’ at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation. Outside of the academic field, she has, among other things, contributed to the film ‘United Israel-Palestine 2027’ by the artist Joachim Hamou (forthcoming 2015), and volunteered for Architects Without Borders.
Runa Johannessen’s thesis, Probing the Terrain: Cunning Spatial Agency in the West Bank, is an investigation into a complex spatial reality of building that is intrinsically linked to the nexus of the Israel-Palestine conflict. To understand how the Palestinian areas of the West Bank are shaped and inhabited – how people build and in what way space is being dealt with – one has to understand the modes of power that affects and transforms Palestinian space, and how spatial practices are developed in a close relation to the occupation. Through observations of particular cases, crossing different scales, shapes, typologies and specific problematics, her aim is to unfold materialization of politics in built structures, to address the concerted actions of regulating powers and tactical movements of building, and to ask how Palestinian agency of building can be perceived.