Read the publication “Forms of Assembly: All Things Considered”

The following publication provides an overview of the “Forms of Assembly: All Things Considered” open project course, instructed by Malkit Shoshan during the Spring semester of 2023 at Harvard University Graduate School of Design.


When bodies congregate, move, and speak together, they lay claim to a certain space as public space. -Judith Butler.

In the public space, we pass by, come together, and continuously inform and form one another. It is a space of appearance, disagreement, and encounter critical for participatory democracy, freedom, and a just society.

In “We Have Never Been Modern” and the following works, “Down to Earth” and “Critical Zones,” Bruno Latour expands the notion of the assembly beyond the human into a “Parliament of Things” that includes the invisible, unthinkable, unrepresentable nonhuman, objects, and semi-objects. He calls for a new constitution that considers all things and their properties, relations, abilities, and groupings. This newly imagined formation of an open-ended and ever-expanding assembly of reciprocity and care is not only just but also critical for earthly survival in the time of the Anthropocene. Climate change, global migration, the imminent possibility of war, threats associated with artificial intelligence, dwindling democracies, and polarization are among the most difficult challenges of our time.

These daunting challenges and uncertainties have enormous implications for the lives of humans, other species, and our shared planet. The tensions they cause culminate in policies, practices, and spaces of isolation, exclusion, and violence, compelling us to imagine and enact the formation of a wider assembly.

At the intersection of art, design, activism, theory, and practice, this open project seeks to investigate and imagine new forms and spaces of assembly where all bodies matter and all things are considered as an ever-expanding, entangled collective. The focus is on articulating the problematic of spatial equity and considering the expansion of rights to more than humans, subjects, and things. Design is used here as an agent and agency to activate the potentiality of underused and interstitial public spaces and use the format of ephemeral interventions, performances, exhibitions, and installations to activate the space of appearance.

The overview of Forms of Assembly: All Things Considered features 12 projects, or design interventions, that take place in public spaces such as squares, libraries, and galleries, as well as archives, protocols, policies, and various social contracts that challenge the “distribution of the sensible” to include the invisible, suppressed, and marginalized. Among the themes addressed in the exhibition are women’s rights, reproductive rights, race-based policies, militarization, and ecological destruction, suppression of collective rights to assemble and protest, exclusionary architectural practices and their related knowledge production infrastructure (language, archives, representation formats, etc.), the relationship

between environmental degradation and cultural heritage, conservation, displacement, extraction, and labor rights. Students used a variety of design formats in response to extensive research, engagement, storytelling, and representation strategies developed throughout the semester, including large-scale installations, films, publications, symposiums, websites, the creation of critical architectural elements and narratives, performances, and policy recommendations.

Forms of Assembly. All Things considered
Spring 2023. Harvard Graduate School of Design
Instructor: Malkit Shoshan
TA: Lafina Eptaminitaki
Students: Alisha Kapoor, Anna Mansueti, Jason Leo, Kendall A. Nicholson, Lafina Eptaminitaki, Lauren Safier, Layal Merhi, Nour-Lyna Boulgamh, Serrino Liu, Sofia Castell, Tara Sun, Yunsong Liu

Lecture series:

Tools for Action / Bambi van Balen
Swamp Observatory / Gediminas Urbonas
Self-repairing a Broken Discipline / Charlotte Malterre – Barthes
Practicing the Politics of Care / Saskia van Stein
Diplomacy Through Architecture / Martin Guinard and Betty Eng
Spectral Infrastructure / Iron Rogoff

Graphic design: Studio Jakob Mayr, assisted by Liza Borovskaya