viernes, diciembre 18, 2009

the cabinet of curiosity

Writing on the blackboard above are Gustavo Dieguez and Lucas Gilardi hosts of todays Arte, Estetica y Politica Urbana workshop and founders of A77. Having only received advice of todays workshop 40 minutes prior to its commencement, I entered the Universidad de Ch
ile’s Facultdad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo not kno
wing what to expect other than a discussion on interventions within South America’s public spaces. The day that unfolded was a joy to participate in – though there were times at which I understood little to nothing as the artists, architects and designers gathered discussed interventions in contemporary society, my spanish has improved enough for me to at least hold my own while speaking about my own observations and interests (if in a very untechnical manner).

Following A77’s presentation on their wonderfully conceived We Can Xalant ”public station” in
Mataro – an area of Barcelona, Spain – I returned home to further investigate the practice’s work following conversations with Gustavo and Lucas at the Faculty’s cafe. Basing their work on the recycling of existing materials, A77 quote Archigram in their admiration of a plug-in urbanism, a notion clear to see in their works and based on the success of We Can Xalant one to be implored.

During my conversation with A77 I observed that it would be unlikely a similar permanent public structure would be allowed in the UK given the obscene amount of bureacracy and legislation that exists in the UK - a problem recently identified at Governmental level in Conservative leader David Cameron’s speech of 02/12/09:
I think we’d all concede that something has gone seriously wrong with the spirit of health and safety in the past decade…It is clear that what began as a noble intention to protect people from harm has mutated into a stultifying blanket of bureaucracy, suspicion and fear that has saturated our country, covering the actions of millions of individuals as they go about their daily lives.
Whether you care for the opinion of Cameron or not is not the important matter, what is is that the excessive bureaucracy and legislation in the UK is being recognised by the leader of the opposition and as such suggests that there is still hope that the restrictive handcuffs within which the UK’s designers are tied might one day loosen.

What was interesting in A77’s response to my observation was the different forms of bureaucracy that exist around the world. While in Mataro A77 were allowed to construct We Can Xalant with a largely amateur workforce, Gustavo and Lucas were keen to point out that while in Spain the people were constructive in helping the process, a similar project in Argentina would encompass much more problems – not due to legislation and bureaucracy as it exists in the United Kingdom, rather because so many different people would want to have their say and input the project would get lost in a cacophany of different voices. Fortunately for the people of Mataro, the relatively bureaucracy free environment in which A77 were able to build We Can Xalant has provided the community a wonderful intervention, one which due to its success is to be now being used as a protoype for similar such structures in the region.

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