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  • Sunday March 24th, 2019

Announcement: Jury and Criteria

In the framework of the competition "Untold Stories / Forgotten Maps" we are glad to announce that five distinguished experts will be joining the jury committee for selecting the winners:

Omar Abdulaziz Hallaj (Syrian architect and urban planner):

Aziz is a consultant on urban planning, development and local governance. He is co-coordinator of the Syria Project at the Common Space Initiative in Beirut, where he is engaged in facilitating various dialogue and research projects for peace building and recovery planning in Syria. Formerly, he was the CEO of the Syria Trust for Development, and served on the boards of several NGO’s, and public commissions. His professional and research work relates institutional, financial and political frameworks to the production of built environment. In 2007, Mr. Hallaj was the recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture as team leader of the Shibam Urban Development Project (GIZ). He subsequently served on the master jury and the steering committee of the Award.

Hrair Sarkissian (Syrian photographer and artist):

Born in Damascus in 1973, Hrair Sarkissian attended the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie in Arles, France (2003-2004) and in 2010 completed a BFA in Photography at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam. From autumn 2010, Hrair has been based in London. His famous work "Homesick" depicts manifestations of memory, trauma architecture and the post-war condition in Syria. In his works, Hrair uses photography as a way to reveal stories that are not immediately visible to the surface. Hrair’s work is included in the collection of Tate Modern, Sharjah Art Foundation, Darat Al Funun and the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena.

Nermin El Sherif (Egyptian architect and expert in counter-mapping):

Nermin Elsherif is originally an urbanist from Cairo (Egypt) who ended up researching the internet as a space in Amsterdam. Her research project on the Other Maps of Egypt was awarded the DAAD-GERSS research grant in 2016 to explore techniques and technologies for mapping social history between analogue and digital media. Nermin engages with maps as complex systems of representation of power from the perspective of Science, Technology &Society (STS) studies. She has perused her passion of mapping in both academic and para-academic domains. Her MSc thesis was a critical reading of the maps of Cairo in relation to the making of the Modern State of Egypt (1798- 1912). Her interest in following the counter narratives of the past, and exploring its invisible archives, led her to explore social media as exhibitions of online-personas, where a specific event can be co-produced through a set of digital affordances. Nermin is PhD candidate in Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (UvA), an ERC of CHEurope, a Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) project. Her current research “Socio-technical Imaginaries of a Modern Past” investigates how the Egyptian middle-class subjects negotiate their online identities through mobilizing “the image” of the past as a resource over Facebook. It aims at mapping the imaginaries of the past online.

Dr. Rasha Chatta (Syrian researcher and expert in migration and graphics in the Middle East):

Rasha Chatta earned her PhD in Cultural, Literary, and Postcolonial Studies from SOAS, University of London, with a dissertation focussing on the theorisation of contemporary Arab migrant literature. She holds an MA in Near and Middle Eastern Studies from SOAS and a BA in History of the Middle East and North Africa from Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris I). Rasha taught courses on Arab women’s literature and Arab cinema at SOAS between 2011-2016 and she is currently co-teaching a course on the contemporary visual cultures of the Middle East at Bard College Berlin. Since 2017, she is Research Fellow at the EUME - Forum Transregionale Studien programme where she is working on a project on Arab comics titled “A Comparative Study of (Im)migrant Stories, War Narratives, and Conflicted Memory between the Near East and Europe”.
Rasha’s research interests include visual aesthetics and memory, approaches to world literature, migrant and diasporic literatures, and war literature with a focus on Lebanon and Syria. She has a forthcoming chapter titled ‘Conflicts and Migration in Lebanese Graphic Narratives’ in The Sage Handbook of Media and Migration.

Dr. Martin Gussone (German archaeologist and expert on Syrian urban heritage):

Martin studied architecture at TU Berlin (Berlin Institute of Technology, 1990-1998), guest semester at HDK Berlin (Berlin University of the Arts) and Carlton University Ottawa/Canada (1998 diploma TU Berlin).Since 1999, working on research projects for the FG Historische Bauforschung (Chair for Building Archaeology), TU Berlin (including Altes Museum Berlin; San Agustin Badajoz/Spain; Resafa, Syria). Since 2002 scientific-technical employee, TU Berlin, FG Historische Bauforschung / Master's degree in Bauforschung und Denkmalpflege (Building Archaeology and Heritage Preservation).Further projects: Research on oriental architecture in Berlin-Brandenburg, including Pyramid in the New Garden in Potsdam; Mosque of the Half Moon Camp near Wünsdorf; since 2006 Technical Director of the project Resafa-Sergiupolis - Rusafat Hisham, Syria. Pilgrimage city and Caliphal residence; 2018 doctorate: "Resafa-Ruṣāfat Hišām, Syria. Settlement and Residence. Comparative evaluation of the results of archaeological surveys and prospections (surface finds and findings), geophysical surveys, digital terrain models, aerial and satellite images. History of Research". Since 2015 cooperation partner of the al-Hira Survey Project, Iraq (Survey and evaluation of prospection results, Early Islamic Urbanism).


Criteria for Selection:
In order for you to prepare better, the following criteria will help you to understand the objective of the competition and provide hints for better submission. They are not obligatory but rather work as inspiration for you within the remaining time before submission next Saturday 30 March at 12:00 PM Berlin time.

An excellent map would not only manage to reveal and uncover a story that is left behind today; but most importantly, needs to eloquently explain why this story matters and why it is necessary to document it.

1. Authenticity of the Narrative:

An excellent submission would, for instance, manage to reveal and uncover important issues that played a role in shaping the city – its urban culture and the life of its citizens- through personal narratives.

Cities and urban areas in Syria have been influenced by various dynamics that remain undocumented. Thus, the participants are required to explain, why this story matters and needs to be documented? What significance does it have for the city and its citizens?

Examples for that would be:

  • Shedding light on a marginalized group and their relation to the city (ethnic minority, Bedouins, refugees);
  • Focusing on urban habits and cultures: shopping, transportation, parks, shops, cafes, and restaurants
  • Focusing on marginal parts of the city: Informal areas, camps, squatter settlements, new housing projects, universities
  • Focusing on urban dynamics such as: modernization, rural-urban migration, desertification, urbanization, internal migrations, tourism, colonialism, etc.

2. Visualizing the Narrative:

A story or a narrative about how an elderly person experienced the urban in Syria might have lots of complexities and details. A good submission would be able to reveal the particularities of the story in an exciting way that engages the reader. This can be done through the text, but most importantly, needs to be visualized.

Examples for this would be:

  • Structuring the submission as a story board: series of maps and sketches
  • Adding comic-like drawings to the side of the map
  • Drawings of perspectives with places, people and actions
  • Adding sections and plans
  • Adding live quotations and speech bubbles!
  • Creating hybrid collages of old versus new images

3. Correspondence between the map and the story:

As mentioned earlier in the competition text, the map is expected to be the basis of the submission. By that, the map is understood as a set of spatial relations and not as a mere cartographic document. In other words, the map should not be presented in a traditional sense, but rather used as a way to express the story.

Examples for this would be:

  • Illustrate spatial relations between elements of the story (locations, people, events, etc)
  • Allocate zones and specific areas
  • Draw pathways, walking lines and trace events of the story
  • Maps could be presented as a top view, or as a perspective as well
  • The submission could be a series of maps and not only one
  • Hybrid maps that include old versus new realities
  • Presented of different colours, two, or black-and-white with one colour
  • Illustrated as digital map, sketchy map, or cognitive/mental map drawn by the elderly person

Successful submissions would manage to balance between the three mentioned criteria, and be captured eloquently in a neat and attractive way, both in the text and the map.

The production of the map should also be joyful and learning process, therefore don't be afraid to be experimental and courageous in your submissions! Good luck!


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