Neighbours. Day One

Domino Effect
Donna Conlon y Jonathan Harker (Panamá)

Historical architecture in Panama City is not appreciated, and is usually replaced with shopping malls and high-rise condominiums. Development for development’s sake seems to be a process that, once set into motion, cannot be stopped, like a chain reaction of dominoes toppling. One exception to this phenomenon has been the Casco Antiguo, the old quarter district located on a small peninsula in the Bay of Panama that has been protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2003.

Its World Heritage Site status is now in jeopardy because of the construction of a government sanctioned multi-million dollar marine viaduct around the peninsula. In its frenzy to tear down and re-build everything for a quick buck, the government even tore up the old cobblestone streets only to re-pave them with new, inferior bricks. In Domino Effect, Conlon and Harker create a domino-like chain reaction through the neighborhood’s streets. The dominoes themselves are the discarded antique colonial era bricks that were ironically used as landfill material in other parts of the city. As in previous collaborations, this video results in a pointed and poetic social criticism.


Faraway Brother Style
Walterio Iraheta (El Salvador)

The photographic series Faraway Brother Style by Walterio Iraheta parodies the international publications by Taschen concerning architecture entitled New York Style, London Style or Paris Style, focusing on the emigrant architectural style in El Salvador: Faraway Brother Style. The term “hermano lejano” [faraway brother] refers to a friend or relative who emigrated from El Salvador, generally to the United States, and who sends back money that helps the family finances of the Salvadorians. Iraheta resorts to a photographic series to identify certain recurrent patterns in this new style.

He calls attention to substantial changes in the architecture of rural zones, where amongst modest houses there now begin to sprout “small-scale castles or palaces” of various floors. Built in an eclectic form that freely blends columns, decorative elements, colors, arches and ceramics of classic, baroque and kitsch style; or even the North American style of the shingled roof sloped for snow, transplanted into the hot climate of El Salvador. Iraheta’s series identifies the way of life of the Salvadoran emigrant as a particular style in its own right, like that of one of a metropolis; approaching the concept of style more in terms of a way of life than frivolous and arbitrary connotations of elegance or good taste.
 Text by Alfons Hug and Paz Guevara, 54 Venice Biennale curators.

La Perla Bowl

La Perla Bowl
Chemi Rosado Seijo (Puerto Rico)

In 2006, La Perla Bowl, a Skateboarding Bowl and actual pool on the weekends was completed. Done in collaboration with Roberto ‘Boly’ Cortés, a veteran skateboarder since 1976, in teamwork with the neighbors from La Perla community, and with the help of skaters, surfers and people from around the island of Puerto Rico. The bowl was handmade and collaboratively built in front of the Atlantic Ocean on reclaimed land, outside the Old San Juan walls, like the community where it stands. The La Perla Bowl has gained international recognition through skateboarding magazines and ads, including a billboard In New York City Times Square.