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Sharon Rotbard / White City, Black City: Architecture and War in Tel Aviv and Jaffa

The history of Tel Aviv, presented for a moment as an architectural history, can be seen as a part of a wider process in which the physical shaping of Tel Aviv and its political and cultural construction are intertwined, and plays a decisive role in the construction of the case, the alibi, and the apologetics of the Jewish settlement across the country.
White City, Black City
In 2004, the city of Tel Aviv was declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site, an exemplar of modernism in architecture and town planning. Today, the Hebrew city of Tel Aviv gleams white against the desert sky, its Bauhaus-inspired architecture betraying few traces of what came before it: the Arab city of Jaffa. In White City, Black City, the Israeli architect and author Sharon Rotbard offers two intertwining narratives, that of colonized and colonizer. It is also a story of a decades-long campaign of architectural and cultural historical revision that cast Tel Aviv as a modernist “white city” emerging fully formed from the dunes while ignoring its real foundation—the obliteration of Jaffa. Rotbard shows that Tel Aviv was not, as a famous poem has it, built “from sea foam and clouds” but born in Jaffa and shaped according to its relation to Jaffa. His account is not only about architecture but also about war, destruction, Zionist agendas, erasure, and the erasure of the erasure.
Rotbard tells how Tel Aviv has seen Jaffa as an inverted reflection of itself—not shining and white but nocturnal, criminal, dirty: a “black city.” Jaffa lost its language, its history, and its architecture; Tel Aviv constructed its creation myth. White City, Black City—hailed upon its publication in Israel as ”path-breaking,” “brilliant,” and “a masterpiece”—promises to become the central text on Tel Aviv.

Pluto Press (UK) - January 20, 2015
The MIT Press (US) - February 5, 2015



SABA at "Mobile Home Project", Songwon Art Centre, Seoul

Searching for an alternative moving space, Mobile Home Project is going to be put on display from 21st of November to 19th of December in Song Won Art Center and Corner Gallery. In this exhibition, 20 groups of globally active artists and architects will participate to look for the possibility and present situation of movable spaces. 9 national-based groups are accessing topics under the social context of Korea, while 11 groups of foreign artists from Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, the United States, and Spain introduce experimental cases and alternative models on their diverse social and physical contexts.
Space was initially formed in need of human and generated distinctive architectural and life styles based on different cultures. The movement in space, thus, arises from the movement of human. Different forms of mobile home appeared in parallel to the activities of human looking for a living space, for example to escape from an uninhabitable area, for the dispossessed to discover a temporary habitat, or to migrate to a better site. Mobile Home Project is a project in relation to space that has been created from the migration and movement, and it aims to study the possibility of moving space under art and life. Basically, the project intends to research about the attempted fluid and hypothetical space project and throws questions regarding periodic phenomena.
The underlying reason of defining the form of space as the movement of space or the movement of one individual in a smaller scale lies on diverse social political background such as the limit of physical habitat or the exile from social system. The movable space- mobile home starts from the movement resulted from the realistic limit and physical incapacity. Focusing on the creative form of space resulted from uninhabitable situations, the exhibition talks about the relationship between movable space and life. The artworks of 20 groups at home and abroad approach in various aspects to discuss about life on the border, body to space, labor mobility, moving house, floating land. The Mobile Home Project will search for creative ways to involve in our lives and share possibility of constantly potential alternative model with the contemporary artists and architects.
Somi Sim (Curator)

(Source: Mobile Home Project exhibition - http://mobilehomeproject.com/; SABA's portfolio at the exhibition's website - http://mobilehomeproject.com/?portfolio=saba)


SABA at "Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities", Museum of Modern Art, New York

"In 2030, the world’s population will be a staggering eight billion people. Of these, two-thirds will live in cities. Most will be poor. With limited resources, this uneven growth will be one of the greatest challenges faced by societies across the globe. Over the next years, city authorities, urban planners, designers, economists, and many others will have to join forces to ensure these expanding urban enclaves remain habitable.
Uneven Growth, the latest exhibition in MoMA’s Issues in Contemporary Architecture series (which also includes Foreclosed and Rising Currents), addresses this increasingly inequitable urban development.
In conjunction with the exhibition, this online platform welcomes the public around the world to submit examples of "tactical urbanisms"—temporary, bottom-up interventions that aim to make cities more livable and participatory.
In the scope of the exhibition, six interdisciplinary teams of researchers and practitioners were brought together to examine new architectural possibilities for six megacities: Hong Kong, Istanbul, Lagos, Mumbai, New York City, and Rio de Janeiro. Challenging assumed relationships between formal and informal, bottom-up and top-down urban development, the resulting design scenarios, developed over a 14-month initiative, consider how emergent forms of tactical urbanism can respond to alterations in the nature of public space, housing, mobility, the environment, and other major issues of near-future urbanization." (source: http://uneven-growth.moma.org/)

SABA 2011 Halvad project:

SABA 2013 Hiriya

SABA Summer 2013, Mitzpe Ramon, Israel

SABA 2014 OccupyTLV projects: