HOW TO PERFORM A CRITICAL SPATIAL PRACTICE AS ECOSYSTEM
HOW TO SPATIALIZE ECOLOGICAL CRITICISM
HOW TO PERFORM A CRITICAL SPATIAL ECOSYSTEM
HOW TO CRITICISE AN ECOLOGY OF SPACE
‘We are 2033. You enter HALL33 with an unknown Other. HALL33 is an environment in which you actively and reciprocally negotiate each others proximity. It’s an invitation to go on a common journey. It’s an invitation to alter your relationship with an unknown Other and with the environment that incorporates you both.’
From 2012 until now we’ve been questioning how space facilitates encounters between humans and their environment, as the starting point of our longterm research project HALL33. This project unfolds in a series of performative installations connecting audiences members, institutions, students and experts. We are building a natural network around - and with - our critical spatial practice (as coined by Jane Rendell in Art and Architecture, A Place Between, 2007).
Over the course of 2019, as we were re-examining the core mechanisms of HALL33, we became increasingly aware of the decay of an anthropocentric world view built upon neoliberal frameworks. A substantial part of architecture, and it’s specific interaction between distance and proximity, is the spatial expression of social relationships that conform to these binary, exploiter/exploited-based dogmas. The Covid-pandemic has however raised a global awareness of the need to reconsider this ‘dramaturgy’ of distance and proximity. This new awareness will be translated into the design of things, organisations and processes. In our work we’re dedicated to use distance (separation) and proximity (intimacy) to construct ‘encounters’ as the new building blocks for a post-Covid world.
In August 2019 we developed HALL07 at the local Festival Sansusi in the Latvian woods, which on one hand offered us a strong reconnection of our spatial practice with the natural environment, and on the other hand revitalized us in reformulating or practice as a living organism: an ecosystem in its own right, built on natural connections (human/human and human/nature). There is an interesting similarity to the Sansusi Festival in Akniste (LV) which originated from a Latvian community activity called talke in which people gather to take care of a piece of land. After a whole day of picking up branches and freeing pathways, you offer the workers a meal and - if the forest spirits allow - somebody spontaneously starts to play the violin around an open fire.Talke incorporates a common engagement in taking care of the environment. Talke allows for a piece of land, that might belong to a particular person, to be shared by a community. By means of care, celebration and a shared microculture of values. This context not only offered our practice the un-stitutionalconditions to build HALL07, it also confirmed us in an holistic approach that we’ve been conducting
How can you build something without building something? The sub-projects HALL01 to HALL06 were constructed in a circular co-creation process, in which a wooden modular framework directed what Carlo Ratti would call a ‘choral’ building proces (Open Source architecture, 2013). Here, the materiality of the industrialized wood, defined the level of commitment of our craftsmanship. The incorporated risk in the design process was low. Next to that our responsiveness to the wood as a ‘living material’ was set to a bare minimum, giving us as designers the power to decide over its shape and to define its purpose.
A very different approach to HALL07. In comparison to HALL01-06, HALL07 looks quite modest. It is built from ‘raw’ peat blocks, a 100% natural material that is extracted from what is called ‘peatland’, swamp- like areas, quite common in northern Europe, Canada and Russia. The decision to work with peat was made in dialogue with the Sansusi festival team. This decision safeguarded 80m3 of this natural common of being exported to Germany to function as a fertilizer for agriculture. This choice altered our role of artists/designers: we were re-purposing the material though displacing it - from the peatland to the forest - and in return the material was triggering its own logic on us. It guided us in building, it decided how it wanted to be shaped. It invited us to un-built our ‘maker’ position into an encounter with the soul of the material itself. The peat blocks made HALL07 into a space for encounter (‘ont-moeten’) through un-building (‘ont-bouwen') the building material ‘formerly known as building material’. Its eco-relational qualities became part of form and content, making its local ecosystem visible and tangible .
The idea of talke brought us closer to a symbiotic organizational model for our practice that pushed us to rethink where we want to be and how we want to organize ourselves. Because how we relate to each other in the future - and the spaces that facilitate these relations - will be defined by the ways in which we relate to each other in the present.
From 2012 until 2018 (HALL01 to HALL06), our collective way of working brought together students, experts and audience members in relative formal settings varying from biennials to festivals and educational contexts. The environments around the installations (production and presentation) were set up as collaborative ecosystems of encounter, making decisions reciprocally based on both consensus and dissensus.
Currently we’re expanding these ecosystems of encounter while we’re working collaboratively on the preparation of HALL08 in a forest in Neerpelt (BE) together with former students/participants like Jenny Case (UK), Ariane Chapelet (FR) and Jaja Puapoomcharoon (TH). This will officially open in the spring of 2020 in Dommelhof. From July 2020 towards Februari 2021 Menzo Kircz (NL) and Israel López (EC) are working on HALL12 in Amsterdam (presentation at Beyond the Black Box, Brakke Grond), while Liga Zepa (LV) en Efrosini Tsiritaki (GR) are tangentially organizing silent walks in the downtown neighborhoods of Athens and Riga, starting a post-Covid movement currently claimed as Encounter Activism.
Follow us through our Live Archive: www.taat-projects.com
or on social media: facebook/taatprojects; instagram: taat_projects
and via our Research Catalogue : https://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/849232/865043