” UN peacekeeping missions in Africa as an urban phenomenon: architect and curatrix Malkit Shoshan researched the hermetically guarded “Camp Castor” in Mali and in her “Blue” exhibition shows how UN bases can become networked “sharing spaces”.

This year’s Dutch Pavilion is in a radiantly ethereal blue that settles like a veil of confidence over photos, maps and models from 170 UN peacekeeping missions in Africa. In contrast to the architectural concepts predominant in many of the other Pavilions, here the public enters a spacious panorama of international diplomacy. LED dots of light on the rear wall indicate UN locations on maps that twinkle like a star-lit sky in the azure-blue semi-darkness. The meditative sounds of Nigerian musician Abdallah ag Oumbadougou, founding father of a rock and traditional music crossover dubbed “Tuareg blues”, give visitors an intimation of life on the edge of the Sahara. Artificial palms and an area of sand in the middle of the Pavilion round off this recreation of an African desert oasis. It takes a while to realise that the “Blue” exhibition is actually a richly detailed research project on the urban construction of UN camps for the MINUSMA international peacekeeping mission. It was also shown in January 2016 at UN headquarters in New York.”

Link to the essay.