(fragile: unstable, disintegrating, malleable, temporary, sketchy, self-sabotage, needs care, gone when not needed, anti-territorial, only there as long as invested in, can’t hold)
I have some questions:
What can be a truly feminist architecture? One that does not create territory, does not claim, does not exclude. (Will society be different if it builds in another way, or is it the other way around, or are they actually inseparable form one another?). How much of the utopia of Occupy is due to the haphazard conditions of camping and DIY? Should we be sad that it’s gone? Or is its ability to disappear its most precious, most pioneering trait? Every social movement must find, claim and hold a space or perish, yes? – become an institution or die.
But how to keep on dying?
Processes of institutionalization are also processes of architectural shifts away from the fragile: from sticks and fabrics to metal and concrete, from sit-ins on the floor to tables and chairs, from open spaces to chambers with doors, from expanding circles to sitting arrangements. All of these we justify with productivity concerns. So maybe the question is: how to be productive and fragile at the same time?
Settlement is a spatial proposal that tries to sustain its architectural fragility hoping in this way to initiate a temporary social, organisational and ideological one. Simply put, it is a collective workspace, a camp and a hangout, open to all who step by and would like to contribute to it. Like many other such meetings it is a place of informal exchange and presentation. It is a space for practices instead of products, a place where our individual ideas and processes have not yet achieved a solid state and can flow into each other.
Settlement starts with a haphazard collection of materials in an otherwise empty space Everything one might need for one’s work has to be built and (re)invented there. There are no tables, no chairs, and the materials and objects resist easy categorization and usability. They have to be mis-used, adapted, they have a will of their own. The built environment has to be negotiated (with) on the level of the object. There is a potential in a thing being one thing one day, and a totally different thing the day after. There is also a potential in a thing changing hands. (You will be surprised how quickly ownership is established from communal beginnings: you just have to take pick up something and move it somewhere else.)
Settlement is a space that tries very hard not to settle. Its instability naturally works against the establishing of clear boundaries between „your space“ and „my space“, what hopefully follows from that is that it is very difficult to establish boundaries between „your work“ and "my work". I believe that practice is bound by space, and if space gets shaky, unstable, shareable, so does the practice.
By starting from scratch Settlement invites a re-negotiation of the specific conditions of each practice. In the course of the three weeks Settlement lets your particular method of production and sharing find its own intrinsic spatial conditions, free from the encoded behaviors of ready-made spaces such as “table”, “studio”, “meeting”, “gallery”, “venue”, “library”, etc. The politics of practice in terms of co-habitation and co-working, of claiming one’s own space, inviting or excluding the outside, communication of ideas, inviting change and influence are all there to be questioned within this setup. As a practice is (in some ways) „re-built“ during Settlement, one can come to question its very construction.