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architecture

“Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter”

Brendan Bannon, lfo 2, Dadaab Refugee Camp, 2011, C-print, 40 × 60".

LIKE A LOT of inexpensive flat-packed furniture—shipped halfway around the world and arriving with “some assembly required”—the lightweight, pitch-roofed structure at the center of the Museum of Modern Art in New York’s “Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter” is missing a few parts. But this is not by accident. In a gesture of accommodation within an exhibition otherwise intent on revealing the inhospitality of contemporary migrant and refugee environments, two of the thirty-six polyolefin-foam panels enclosing the structure’s tubular-steel frame have been removed, inviting visitors to enter a phantom household measuring roughly eighteen feet long and ten feet across. The Emergency Temporary Shelter, as it is called, was developed in 2010 by the Swedish “social enterprise” Better Shelter, in collaboration with two of our corporate- and conflict-ridden world’s

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