How public are public spaces?
What are the possibilities of subverting public space, its use and adaptation, when that public space is a building?
The Showroom re-opens with the second iteration of Affection as Subversive Architecture – Unauthorised Entry Permitted, convened in collaboration with Spanish architecture studio Recetas Urbanas and architect Blanca Pujals. Building upon a year-long collaboration, the project invites individuals, local groups, researchers and practitioners to engage with an archive of ‘urban recipes’ produced by Recetas Urbanas in a trajectory spanning more than twenty years.
Affection as Subversive Architecture – Unauthorised Entry Permitted reflects upon processes of collective thinking around modes of spatial organisation, and the formation of new social relationships within and beyond public cultural institutions. The project exists in two parts:
Firstly, an archival display at The Showroom ground floor gallery space, which includes documentary videos narrating Recetas Urbanas’ former projects and a selection of printed material available to read on-site.
Secondly, a series of discursive, participatory workshops are due to take place either online or in person in small groups over the coming months.
Throughout October-December, together with Blanca Pujals, those who live and work in the Church Street ward are invited to join a series of discussion groups focused on experiences since the outbreak of Covid-19, in particular thinking about the spaces we inhabit daily, and new spatial needs that have arisen due to the crisis. These conversations will draw upon the ways in which Recetas Urbanas have worked to build new infrastructures with collectives and community groups across Spain and with local groups in urban contexts internationally.
Contextualising and framing the archival content in the gallery space, wall paintings of architect Santiago Cirugeda’s characteristic personal monthly schedules - from January and February 2020 - chart the lead-up to the first iteration of the project in London. These scaled-up reproductions of Cirugeda’s idiosyncratic notebooks represent the timeframes and fluctuations of his Studio’s international practice in relation to conversations with a network of collaborators; showing how these intersect and take shape amidst the flow of daily life between public, private, cultural and social spheres.
The reopening of the project in September 2020 is marked by a new section of Cirugeda’s diary from March to April, inviting audiences to reflect on the gaps that have opened up and our daily transformations since the arrival of the pandemic. For Cirugeda, Tip-ex strips overlay formerly concrete plans, and whilst movement is restricted, communication continues towards enabling localised conversations, such as those that will be taking place in the Church Street neighbourhood.
Creating a forum for urgent issues at stake in the neighbourhood – and elsewhere, these discussions will explore possibilities for generating communal learning environments, sharing research via small-scale gatherings in person or online. Questions will address how we can work within the on-going crisis to establish new frameworks for collaboration and make use of our public spaces; aiming to further understand and think through resolutions to the spatial needs that have arisen due to current conditions since lockdown. In this way, the project considers the social to be a part of the cultural realm, acting as a case study towards questioning how cultural spaces can facilitate exchange and collaboration.
Ultimately, Affection as Subversive Architecture – Unauthorised Entry Permitted seeks to reconfigure our understanding of social spaces and the ethics of care, whilst facilitating new forms of self-governance and alternative pedagogies, creating the possibility for citizens to participate in the construction of the public sphere. Moreover, it aims to create a circular economy whereby the ethos of collective learning creates self-empowered communities. This poetic gesture of radical collectivity aims to challenge our understanding of the ways in which cultural institutions are conceived.
With special thanks to Recetas Urbanas and Blanca Pujals; to Elliot Anderson, Being Free Being Me project (Maria Souto and Cátia Lopes), Elliott Denny, Katherine Finerty, Lily Hall, Andy Healy, Seema Manchanda, Raúl Muñoz de la Vega, Juan G. Pelegrina, Berta Ros, Adam Shield, Patricia Terry, Yaiza Hernández Velázquez, Janna Graham and Goldsmiths BA Curating students 2019-20.
Image: Recetas Urbanas and The Showroom, Community Invitation, September 2020. Courtesy of Recetas Urbanas and Juan G. Pelegrina
Affection as Subversive Architecture – Unauthorised Entry Permitted is the second iteration of a project initiated by The Showroom with Recetas Urbanas and Blanca Pujals in February 2020, and is presented in partnership with BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead.
This project forms part of the trans-disciplinary programme Radical Citizenship: The Showroom Summit, including exhibitions, performances and workshops culminating in an international summit. Projects within this programme engage with socio-political, theoretical and artistic processes for the reinvention of agency and governance in the environment of our contemporary cities.
Radical Citizenship: The Showroom Summit is a cooperative project between The Showroom and Goethe-Institut within the framework of Echoes of the South Atlantic, a project promoting collaborative art production in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe and South America.
The participation of Recetas Urbanas in this exhibition is supported by Acción Cultural Española (AC/E) through a Mobility Grant as part of the Programme for the Internationalisation of Spanish Culture (PICE).
The project is also supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and by The Chelsea Arts Club Trust.
Recetas Urbanas is a design and advocacy collective of architects, lawyers and social workers led by Spanish architect Santiago Cirugeda and Alice Attout, who joined in 2008. The collective is based in Seville, Spain and brings to life self-built projects that rely on local participation to realise mobile structures using locally sourced, second and third-hand materials. Their work activates different areas of urban reality globally, from creating temporary sites for community discussion with shipping containers and architectural prostheses, to implementing new social housing models in collaboration with local governments. These projects are highly functional yet legally provocative, often challenging the lawfulness surrounding the occupation of public space.
Since its founding in 2003, Recetas Urbanas has worked internationally with over 2,500 individuals, hailing from different social backgrounds, abilities and ages. They have undertaken collaborative projects around the world including Usted está aquí, Fundación Luis Seoane, A Coruña and MUSAC, León (2018); Basilea, Art Basel with Creative Time (2018); Montaña Verde, Antwerp Baroque Festival (2018); The Right to Illegality, Venice Biennale of Architecture (2016); and HoW – House of Words, Gothenburg International Biennial for Contemporary Arts (2015), amongst others.