About GALERÍAS. An extinct specie in the dominican spatial fauna.
Yuri Leonardo, architect, visual artist. 2014
At the very beginning of human existence, there were females that gave birth to other females with the moon and the water (the sea) as the only others participants of the act of human reproduction. Since there were only females, the word male or males didn’t exist; there were no need of this (genre) distinction. There were only people.
These people, the Clefts, who are believed to have evolved from creatures of the sea, lived in caves facing the only seashore they knew. They had never left this place that they considered home. The Clefts fished their food, swam a great portion of the day and, every now and then, coordinated by the translation of the moon, gave birth to other Clefts. This way of life went on without significant changes until the first male was born. These first males, considered Monsters, whose bodies were different from those of the Clefts, were left at the top of the cliff to be eaten by the eagles that lived in the mountains. Somehow, these Monsters, which were not eaten by the eagles, survived and built their habitat in the valley across the mountain, by the river.
Even after Clefts and Monsters began to mate, the two people lived separately. The females rested in their caves by the seashore, bathed in the sea and fished their food; the males built shelters from trees in the valley, hunted their food and learned the advantages, in terms of survival, of inhabiting the treetops. Thus, the cliff, the caves and the sea were home to the females in the same way that the valley, the shelters and the river were home to the males. This version of the origins of the human race is the centre of The Cleft (2007), a novel written by Doris Lessing (1).
I find interesting the logic behind Lessing’s designation of caves and shelters to females and males, respectively, as the first two forms of humans’ dwellings. It wouldn’t be farfetched to conclude that these first typologies were born as products of their surroundings and not simple choices in the nature of aesthetics. I would say that they were choices almost entirely given by their natural surroundings. Almost. Caves and shelters are two different habitats that respond, not only to two contrasting environments, but also to the inner nature of two different personalities, two different individuals.
It is not the purpose of this article to induce that caves are to females what (man- built) shelters are to males, but to understand what is the relationship between these first typologies and the nature of certain spatial configurations that have existed in the Dominican Republic and in the Caribbean until this day, without ignoring what history tells us about the social relationships between males and females. Caves and Shelters, in the Dominican Republic, are related as much to natural environment as to the historical evolution of women in the dominican society.
Host: Natural Histories for Los Angeles celebrated our final piece of World Wide Storefront programming with a Supper Studio Potluck featuring the Out There Doing It teams, delicious small eats by Anthony Martin of PATAO, and visual treats by Jonathan Crisman of No Style. (Dion Neutra even gave a toast.) A few days before the potluck we asked Supper Studio host Jia Gu to take a break from the prep and answer a few questions.
What is Supper Studio?
Supper Studio is a loose dinner-discussion series organized at UCLA’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design (AUD). Each evening features an invited speaker, and the evening is hosted in a variety of formats — from midnight sessions with Benjamin Ball and Eddy Sykes to a courtyard lunch with Reinhold Martin. One of the most interesting dinners we hosted was with New Zealand artist Fiona Connor, who presented a stack of unkilned bricks to the guests alongside the material research she conducted on the physical design standards of the university. Other times it follows a more traditional speaker/audience format, where someone like Jeff Kipnis invites another conversationalist and you’re sitting there listening and eating. This is nice too, because I happen to like eavesdropping on conversations.
Why call it a potluck?
The potluck is just another way to describe a collective activity — and in fact the potluck component of this dinner is not with food but with tables. The four teams designed individual segments of a long table which runs from the front entrance of the VDL Neutra House to the back outdoor courtyard, a long continuous surface on which a grid of small eats and cocktail treats are served. We’ll be serving up dishes and questions alike, but like any good host, we won’t make anyone eat or answer.
What’s the best part about getting to host a potluck at Neutra VDL?
There’s a lot of indeterminacy to this dinner which I’m excited and anxious about. We don’t know what the teams have designed, we don’t know if it will fit together or stand up, and we don’t know how the guests will navigate the obstruction of certain pathways and corridors in the VDL. We simply designed the conditions.
Centre for the Aesthetic Revolution
Pablo León de la Barra (México)
Photo: Fabian Marti’s ‘Two Hotel’
There’s no more centre. The centre is everywhere. You are the centre. The centre is happening in the place where you are located. Create your own centre.
In the XVI century, Italian monk and philosopher Giordano Bruno affirmed “In the Universe, no centre and no circumference exist, but the centre is everywhere… Each world has its centre”, because of this he was burned by the inquisition. In another line of thought, at the beginning of the XXI century French philosopher Jacques Rancier concluded “There exists a specific sensory experience—the aesthetic—that holds the promise of both a new world of Art and a new life for individuals and the community.” Rancier relates this thought to an affirmation Shiller makes at the end of the fifteenth of his ‘Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Mankind’ where he declares that “Man is only completely human when he plays”. Following both this arguments, The Centre for the Aesthetic Revolution, regains playfulness as an aesthetic tool for revolution, and contests the prevalence of hegemonic centres of aesthetic control (New York, London, Berlin, etc), and their media vehicles (Frieze, Artforum, etc), in order to create a much more complex network of relationships, people, artists, exhibition and thought that goes beyond the traditional filters of artistic validation and beyond limiting regional and national representations, but also against international homogenization in an attempt to localize singularities and differences. The Centre for the Aesthetic Revolution is a blog, a travelogue, a diary of impressions, a history of recent exhibitions happening elsewhere beyond the official centres, a network that connects similar sensibilities.
Michelle Gratacós Arril (Puerto Rico)
Photo: Revista Area, Spring 2014. Puerto Rico
Espacio Común, recalls issues of gathering and common space, and architecture symbolic of socialist order and made little use of in the capitalist-ridden Island of Puerto Rico. The objective of this project is to induce a sense of shared ownership and responsibility towards the maintenance and upkeep of this historical building amongst the inhabitants and users of the space, and with that, feelings of self-determination.
Espacio Común, in an effort to reach it’s goal, has ideated “Adopta una silla”– an economic system that supports the restoration of rescued chairs and the fabrication of new chairs based on the original design of the chairs and cushionings. The chairs that are being rescued are typical designs that in the 50’s inhabited most balconies on the Island of Puerto Rico.
Buró de Intervenciones Públicas –BIP-
Stefan Benchoam and Christian Ochaita (Guatemala)
The Buró de Intervenciones Públicas (BIP) is a collaborative project by Stefan Benchoam and Christian Ochaita that originated as a direct response to the lack of public spaces and infrastructures for recreation and socialization in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Their work incorporates various elements of architecture, art, design, and urbanism, hoping to modify the way in which citizens relate with the open spaces of their cities.
Their projects encourage the use of public spaces through playful elements and unusual occurrences, to critically address the widespread criminalisation of citizens basic rights to gather in the public space during Guatemala’s violent civil war (which officially lasted thirty six years).
Additionally, BIP’s interventions can be read as Situationist gestures that generate reflection and debate about their city, and are often times developed through their collaboration with other artists, collectives and people in general. Each one is presented as a viable solution to the lack of initiative from the municipal and central government agencies.
Ignacio Mallol, Ramón Zafrani y Johann Wolfschoon (Panamá)
Photo: Pilar Echezarreta Installation, Mundo Minúsculo, Espacio Junta.
JUNTA is a platform that intends to generate dialogue, interaction
and confrontation of ideas through exhibition, talks, workshops and events
that compliment architectural, cultural and social heritage.
We focus on an innovative approach towards architecture, art and design.
We look to expand awareness, as well as to drive the development
of contemporary architectural discourse.
JUNTA aims to be an active and permanent channel of communication
that promotes the engagement of professionals, students, organizations, educational entities, artists and community members.
We are a public space open to thought, expression and discussion.
Marlon de Azambuja (Brasil)
Brutalism is an exercise in architectural thinking. Firstly, all the
elements used are temporarily suspended by industrial instrumentation
and are so because construction is not only matter at rest. When one
builds, one lifts a house, raises a building. Then the building
materials used are exposed as they are, without metaphors, without
finding them a role beyond their own presence and nakedness, because
ultimately this work seeks to deal with that, to carry out, in the
most radical and poetic way, the idea of brutalism. Accepting the
nature of materials and lifting a city.
Jessica Kairé and Stefan Benchoam (Guatemala)
NuMu (Nuevo Museo de Arte Contemporáneo) is Guatemala’s first Contemporary Art Museum, located in Guatemala City. Its physical space measures approximately 2 x 2.5 meters and has the shape of an egg as it was originally designed as an egg selling kiosk. It exhibits four shows per season, all of which are complemented by educational activities, and is open to the public 24 hours, 365 days a year and free to the public. NuMu is a project co-founded and co-directed by Jessica Kairé and Stefan Benchoam.
Darién Montañez (Panamá)
Shopping malls have completely usurped the role of public space in Panama City, and now you go to the mall to stroll and socialize and eat and go to the movies, always within the unchanging, secure confines of these climate-controlled spaces. This video illustrates and documents, like an anthropological study, the life of the inhabitants of the fancy section of the largest shopping mall in all of the Western Hemisphere: Panama’s Albrook Mall. Here, the shoppers move as in a trance, loaded with the paraphernalia of bags and cellphones, afloat in an endless sea of white. It is a study in contrasts: mortal and ephemeral subjects tread on the most permanent of materials—marble—within the most permanent of institutions—shopping.
La Vía Histórica
Edgardo Larregui (Puerto Rico)
Illuminated lineal drawing of the old railroad tracks of the train. 252 colored bulbs draw lines representing the railroad tracks of the no longer existent train on the Island of Puerto Rico. In the early days of industrialization on the island, the workshop station for the trains occupied the same terrain where these two apartment towers are now found, For this reason, the name of the neighborhood is “Trastalleres” or “behind the workshops”. This is the same neighborhood where my grandparents raised my father and his three siblings, where the Puerto Rican singer, Andy Montañez, grew up, as well as other musicians, athletes and people worthy of admiration.
Tribute to the pioneer of this type of art and technology Frank J. Malina and inspired by the “enlightened” Dan Flavin, Bruce Nauman, Mario Merz, Mauritius Nannuchi, James Turrell, Olafur Elliasson, Gozalez Felix Torrez.
Tree House – Casa Club
Radamés Juni Figueroa (Puerto Rico)
Tree House – Casa Club – was a project developed for the Residency Program La Practica at Beta Local by Radamés “Juni” Figueroa. Figueroa is a Puerto Rican artist who developed a “collage” or architectural assembly made of the site’s timber (El Bosque Auxiliar, Naguabo), as well as materials collected in the city of San Juan. Among the materials employed were wood of various types, glass windows, tropical windows, zinc and plastic roofing, and other discarded materials found throughout the city. With these myriad objects, Radamés Juni built a structure in the forest that serves as a haven to relax, enjoy the scenery, partake of live music and even meditate. Juni Figueroa’s initial idea was to create a space to get away from the city and he thus ventured into the tropical forest […] The Grand Opening of the Club House was held last June 8, 2013. It was a sunny day full of magic and the intensity of the forest. A BBQ was held, craft beer was available and two rock and roll local bands performed – Las Ardillas and Reanimadores. As it began getting dark, fireflies emerged and were joined by psychedelic sounds introduced into the forest by Joelito el de Magueyes. The recent opening marked the beginning of a series of events and exhibitions that will be organized by Radamés “Juni” Figueroa in the Tree House – Casa Club.
16kg to Bend a Tree
Felippe Moraes (Brasil)
(…)The works shown here by Felippe Moraes seem to deal with this centimetre of breath, or in other words, they speak about the invisible abyss between numbers and their fake reliability.
(…) Felippe Moraes uses the technical reproducibility to make considerations about the relations of geometry and the physical space. The object that excavates today is the same one that will be discarded tomorrow; the body that is active and that gives names to units of measurement is the same that shall be conditioned to a coffin, in other words, a wooden quadrilateral. Geometry surrounds us and in it we shall be enclosed.
(…)Is it possible to bend a tree? Would we have the same doubt if this question was to be directed towards the buildings in the back of the photographic image of 16kg to bend a tree (2012)?
Celeste Olalquiaga (Venezuela)
Photo: Roads Exhibition, MoMA, 1961
Independent initiative which aims to culturally evaluate “El Helicoide de la Roca Tarpeya”, its structure, history and memory, through a series of exhibitions, publications and educational activities for 2014.
Conceived and directed by cultural historian Celeste Olalquiaga, Proyecto Helicoide brings together a multidisciplinary team of historians, architects, museum curators, artists and communicators including Maria Fernanda Jaua, Lisa Blackmore, Fabiola Arroyo, Mónica Santander and LuisRa Bergolla, among others.
Its goal is to produce a critical appreciation of this icon of modernity from different artistic, documentary and testimonial records from a multidisciplinary perspective. These records will form part of a more comprehensive evaluation about the complexities and contradictions of the modern process in which this building and its ups and downs are registered, both continental and worldwide.