Joana Rafael (b.1979) is an architect practitioner, researcher and writer, currently based in Porto. Holds a PhD in Visual Cultures and a MRes in Research Architecture from Goldsmiths, University of London, and a MA from the Metropolis program, once administered by the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and the Center for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona. She dedicates herself to the development of projects and provides architectural consultancy. As a researcher, Joana develops interdisciplinary work centred on (issues of) ecology, contemporary, digital and material culture, technology and natural sciences. Uses writing as a research tool. Joana received the Erasmus+ grant (2001), FCT´s PhD Research Scholarship (2008), a study grant from Concordia University, Montreal (2008) and the Research (2019) and Production (2020) grant from Digital Cultures, Creative Industries NL, Netherlands - which led to the development of Lost Zone: Hiking the Dawn of the Metaverse, published by ViaIndustriae, Italia. Joana has been Assistant Professor at Central St. Martins, London (2009 – 2015), the University of Creative Arts, Canterbury (2013–15), the Instituto de Ciências Educativas, Penafiel (2017–20) and Escola Superior Artística do Porto (2020-2022). Teaches Contextual Studies and Contemporary Culture-related courses, and is a member of ISPUP (Institute of Public Health of the University of Porto) and CEGOT (Center for Studies in Geography and Spatial Planning). Joana is also a certified farmer.
The Nuclear in The Ural Montains
Held at XXXIATNEUXX, Porto, Portugal
< published > in portuguese as O Nuclear nos Montes Urais: Tensōes Territoriais entre Humanos e Átomos
at Curadoria de Enigmas Territoriais de Ines Moreira, Parabola Critica Porto, 2022
The Nuclear in The Ural Montains examines a place ravaged by deadly emissions from Soviet strategic defence initiatives facilities for reprocessing nuclear missile technology and has itself been designated and managed according to a series of conversions, from natural refuge to military headquarters, then from military dumping ground to nature reserve and touristic destination. These conversions entail particular constructions of the place and are characterized by a preoccupation with the disguising and secrecy of the site, so as to maintain it within inviolable limits. These are constructions imposing protected zones reliant on (local) territorial boundaries to confine and secure nuclear threats in a particular place. However, such constructions provide excuses for extreme crackdowns on civil liberties, and are highly contested as such. This paper also highlights ever-greater concerns regarding the interconnectedness of all life forms, and the inter-linkage between a staggering array of threats and infrastructures that are highly vulnerable to disasters, putting people who are thought to be safe at risk.