LIGA 16: Paperwork


SENSITIVE TRASH | Mexico City | 2014 – 2015

From a critical eye upon everyday practices of architecture and construction. Here, it is the bureaucratic processes, regulations, paperwork, permits and the arsenal of copies generated through this administrative window that become the focus of investigation for the installation. The reconstruction of the gallery using complex paper surfaces serves to denounce the hypocrisy and opportunism of “greenwashing,” the wastage of paper and the legislative logic that simply converts a raw material into a “dead” archive. The geometries of calculator paper that wrap the space in a matrix of folds display a professional practice driven above all by the rationale of billing, payment and finances.

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Curatorial text

Recycling and Assembling. By Josep María Montaner:

"The architect Alejandro Haiek and the designer and artist Eleanna Cadalso head up the LAB.PRO.FAB (Project and Production Laboratory), based in Caracas but working internationally. Founded in 1996, their work experiments with reassembling components and the use of transformable containers, with a view to blurring the boundaries between art, design, technology and architecture. LAB.PRO.FAB creates systems for combining existing elements and artifacts according to a rationale whereby artificial territory, objects and human beings can all contribute synergies. The results of the projects, experiments and workshops of LAB.PRO.FAB are always surprising and bring new life to recycled items and fragments. All of this is developed by means of a kind of intermediate technology of recycling, which enables the intervention of technicians, students and users, and takes advantage of the traditional knowledge and skills of craftspeople, which it refers to as local intelligence. Its most emblematic works include the creation of the Tiuna Cultural Park in El Fuerte, where it has installed recycled containers, remade with components reused from industrial design, as great circular windows, making use of packaging materials to make sound-proofing panels and advertising banners to mount screens. The containers have been converted into multipurpose rooms for art, music and communication. The working methods of Haiek and LAB.PRO.FAB are connected to two phenomena of contemporary architecture: on the one hand, the avant-gardes of the 1960’s and 1970’s, and on the other, present-day multi-disciplinary architects’ collectives. Haiek’s work harks back to the performative architecture of Cedric Price, intended for the creative action of people, including emblematic, mythical projects such as the Fun Palace (1961), as well as the logic of Jean Prouvé’s prefabricated components. It is also reminiscent of the experiments of the avant-garde in the world of design, such as Superstudio in Florence or Transatlàntic in Barcelona. These proposals are intended for Latin American cities, suited to their technology and to their urban structures, and may be replicated in the contemporary context of social and environmental crisis. It is an architecture that fights to place people at the center of things. This effort to bring together investigation and action situates LAB.PRO.FAB in the context of the collectives that have proliferated across the planet: in Europe, especially in Spain and France; and in the Americas, especially in Brazil. In Paris, of note are the actions of the atelier d’architecture autogérée (aaa), created by architects Constantin Petcou and Doina Petrescu; and in Barcelona, the social interventions of the La Col collective. In Latin America there is the a77 group in Buenos Aires founded by Gustavo Diéguez and Lucas Gilardi, which among other proposals for didactic social art has designed the Nómade Cultural Center, and whose works are based on incorporating and recycling found objects; and the international collective Supersudaka, focused on research into architecture and urbanism, with actions and installations in many different parts of the planet: Rotterdam, Caracas, Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile and Tokyo.

The paper patterns are stretched between wooden frames and activated by the lighting and ventilation, which is controlled by interactive sensors. These are manufacturing tests, experiments and prototypes where local knowledge, craftwork and traditional assemblages are linked with automatization, interactive systems and digital design processes. In this way, Haiek relates local skills with the global ecosystem, combining obsolete resources with applied technology. The installation subverts the universe of the professional architect and transforms its everyday components rolls of calculator paper, binder clips, paperclips or computer fans into tools for poetry, criticism and resistance.

The change in the working coordinates of the architect brought about by these collectives is highly significant. Two of the basic, traditional elements of the profession are transformed: authorship is dissolved into the process and the collective, renouncing the individualistic emphasis on the creator’s ego; and the work, which was previously identified with the completed building, with the object, becomes a process that can take the form of programming, consulting, mediation, assertive action, organization of itineraries, workshops, refurbishments, recycling, curating, publishing, films, expression in new media such as websites and blogs, and many other activities. These collectives assert the social need for architecture and demonstrate that it is something that can be undertaken by exploring many different paths.

The experiments of Haiek and LAB.PRO.FAB bring together these two aspects, the avant-garde and the collectivist. In his case, what is new is the way he opens up an unprecedented path in the recycling of components, with resonances of Rural Studio, but with much more technological implementation and with a view to creating systems of recycled, intelligent, self-evolving and liberating artifacts. We have moved beyond the era of industrially-designed artifacts like those of the 70s, about which Giulio Carlo Argan and Carlos Raúl Villanueva wrote with such insight, and currently find ourselves in an epoch defined by the excess of gadgets and a vital need to recycle them, and by the search for sustainable domesticity promoted by Ezio Manzini. This determination to refurbish recontextualized objects, this architecture of the reuse of objects that combines both ethics and aesthetics is full of promise for the future. In this new field, LAB.PRO.FAB is one of the leading representatives.