Unwritten Handbook: Helene Kazan in conversation with Rania Stephan
Helene Kazan began her residency with Serpentine Galleries Projects with lecture performance Imperiled House.
The residency, which took place through a series of walks and reading groups, outlined the ongoing need for investigation into the structural violence that affects the urban fabric of Beirut, as a condition historically connected to the evolving state of London.
The lecture performance was followed by a conversation with artist and filmmaker Rania Stephan, who was in residence with the Serpentine’s Edgware Road Project in 2010. Imperiled House confronted the many sites of destruction and construction in the city, and traced the evolution of these lived conditions, as they forcibly took effect across the built environment. Consolidating a history of structural violence inflicted on the city through aerial bombardment and real estate development, Kazan reinstated the link between the destructive nature of conflict and capitalist ideals for profit-making. She emonstrated the further development of these (de)constructive conditions through the ongoing planning and materialisation of the city.
Throughout her residency at the Serpentine Galleries, Kazan narrated a largely undocumented and missing historical narrative describing the effects of the Second World War in Lebanon and Syria. By tracing and reinstating a historical relationship between London and Beirut, Kazan mapped a spatial progression towards the denial of rights to the city, as a flimsy (de)constructed reflection of social, political and economic constraints.
The truthful narration of the little known events that affected Lebanon and Syria during the Second World War came through research into the archive of General Spears, the first British Minister of Lebanon and Syria. Spears’ archive documents the 1941 Allied invasion of Lebanon and Syria and the further two years of negotiations over power and control, through the reconstruction of these developing nation states. Kazan presented a complex of material, as a site of knowledge production and discussion, to provoke questions on the potential intervention, disruption or resistance of this seemingly uncontrollable material progression of our lived environment.
The lecture performance, Imperiled House, marked the beginning of Kazan’s residency, where she led a series of walks and workshops:
Session 1 – The Nation State
At the Bomber Command Memorial
Session 2 – The House
Under Marble Arch
Session 3 – The Body
The Carpenters Arms