Do rivers have memory? Could flowing water constitute an archive? What makes a river our commons? Taking cues from these questions, architect and researcher Merve Bedir introduces her curatorial work on the Maritsa River—the longest waterway that runs through the Balkans, crossing Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey. For this talk, she discusses how different archives about the Maritsa River were lost or displaced once it was used to define national borders. She facilitated the collective attempt to start documenting the river again, investigating how this has become a strategy to reclaim this body of water.

In her research, Bedir explores borders, migration, and urban transformation. Her work examines the vocabulary of hospitality—refugee, immigrant, migrant, guest, host, ghost, and hostage—and identifies the forms and spaces of solidarity among different communities. For this talk, she extends her queries to AAA, an archive and research organisation, and to art’s current models of ownership and publicness.

Merve Bedir | Uncommon River