Ala Younis Plan for Feminist Greater Baghdad, detail, 2018.
Photo : Tim Bowditch, courtesy of Delfina Foundation & Art Jameel

Trophies and Monuments

Noa Bronstein
Architecture is both form and social document, container and market instrument. Situated firmly within the cultural imaginary, edifices serve as political devices just as much as they delimit space. This may be particularly evident in the case of museums, concert halls, embassies, schools, and stadiums. It is this last family of structures, the stadium, that I focus on in the analysis that follows. Taken up in projects by Babak Golkar and Ala Younis, stadiums and their related forms are especially compelling typologies in that their association with sports endears them to practices of nation-building and mythmaking. In the same way that buildings are never simply buildings, sport operates in arenas far beyond athleticism, extending deep into the realm of the social and the political.

Turning their attention to particularly laden spaces, Golkar and Younis have each produced projects that address the axis of power, history, and memory embedded in the architectures of the state, sports, and culture. Both artists borrow the raw materials of the archive to generate counter-legibilities. Within this tenuous space between the archive as intended and the archive recast, the stadium emerges as a site of fantasy, crisis, and desire.

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This article also appears in the issue 103 - Sportification

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