As LEAP explores possibilities for art’s existence in zones of creative and political instability, Larissa Sansour proves that there are always daring alternatives for this core relationship of discourse and space. With the short video Nation Estate (2012), she proposes a viable two- state solution for Palestine and Israel not by divvying up territory in the traditional cartographic sense, but rather by erecting a massive skyscraper in which entire cities take over individual floors. If the task seems quixotic, it is unclear whether the greatest obstacles in its path would be architectural or bureaucratic in nature.
Sansour’s visual language is couched in the rhetoric of science fiction film, paying homage to many of the great dystopias of twentieth-century cinema. But, like the notion of a biennial of borders, the distinction between the utopian and the nightmarish is largely one of perspective, defined more by identity and exclusion than aesthetic structures. The tower of Nation Estate presents both a striking example of the kind of problems tackled by a paper biennial and an appropriate built environment for its realization. As conflict again flares in Gaza, this future seems less like a modest proposal and more like a gesture of hope— one that could perhaps be transplanted to other open zones.