Leros: Island of Exile
A Research project on architecture of security, displacement and control.
Leros: Island of Exile is an interdisciplinary research project started in early 2014 by Platon Issaias and Beth Hughes. The case of Leros in the Greek Dodecanese has a unique history of securitisation and control in the Mediterranean. It conveys an entire ecosystem of exile, detainment and violent processes of subjectification within which architecture plays a fundamental role.
Leros has been defined by its service under various regimes. This project focuses on the last century, from the Italian occupation of 1912-1943 up until today, covering a neglected example of the Italian Rationalist architecture, namely the plan of the town of Lakki/Portolago. The project follows the transformation of the infrastructure built by the Italian fascist administration, from notorious mental healthcare facilities to camps for political prisoners and violently displaced children from mainland Greece, and current use as detention centres for refugees and displaced individuals.
Displacement, confinement and bodily restriction and incarceration exist within an idealised colonial architecture that celebrated a mystified, fascist pan-Mediterraneanism. It’s a space and an exemplary landscape defined by water, geography and the south-eastern Mediterranean environment, and yet it performs a series of rather different functions. Multiple calculations at play put in place an Italian military apparatus and a set of relations between populations, landscapes, architectures and objects.
All photos by Yannis Drakoulidis. More on his work, here: http://yannisdrakoulidis.com/photographs/islands-of-exile-leros/
The project has been exhibited in MANIFESTA 12 in Palermo (June-November 2018).
The following articles and conference papers emerged from this work:
2019. Paper presentation in: Built to Last? Material Legacies of Italian Colonialism, organised by Instituto Storico Austriaco, Rome, 04-05 November 2019.
2019. Paper presentation in: Mediterranean Fascism(s), organised by University of Basel, Department of Social Sciences, Faculty of Urban Studies, 04 October 2019.
2018. Article in: Movements: Journal for Critical Migration and Border Regime Studies, vol. 4, issue 2/2018. [Link to the article]
2018. Article in: The Funambulist, v.19, Sept-Oct 2018. [Link to the article]