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.


The Unbearable Urban Lightness


A poetic nonetheless truthful account of the past and present of Santo Domingo written by Omar Rancier. 


Around 515 or 516 years ago (the exact date of which historians can still not agree on) the Spanish city of Santo Domingo was founded on the southern coast of the Island of Hispaniola. It seems ironic that its founding was, in the words of Reverend Rubio, an act of love; the product of which was not only the inception of the city but also the birth of the first mestizo of The Americas. The irony lies in the fact that this very act of love between Miguel and Catalina has in the ensuing five centuries transmuted itself into a space of intrinsic aggression; something which on a daily basis is more to be endured than savored by its amalgamated population.

If Milan Kundera, as a result of an existential search that resulted in a novel, came to conclude that the lightness of being is unbearable, it might also be said of Santo Domingo that, over time, it has developed an urban lightness which is unbearable, in its search for an increasingly vanishing sense of identity.

The city, swollen as it is with noxious tunnels, dripping over-passes, viaducts and useless pedestrian bridges, and smacking of mass more than levity, groans under the load of a lightness whose cost outweighs its functionality. (more…)