Space Is The Place / The Place is Space

George Cruikshank: “All The World Going To See The Great Exhibition of 1851, (1851)”

Fifty years ago, Il Monumento Continuo  (1969-1970) enveloped the world with its network. The collage series by radical architecture group Superstudio was to foresee some of the phenomena of global capitalism including information highways, the homogenisation of lifestyles, or the destruction of employment. Their viewpoint was critical and ironical, and highlighted the central role of architecture in the production of social space.

Architecture was also the subject of a contempraneous photo series. Rather than making use of a fictitious future scenario, Martha Rosler used texts and photography in The Bowery in two inadequate description systems(1974-75) to document street corners and shopfronts in a run-down area of the city, fragments of real, obsolete architecture on the point of disappearance.

“Descriptive systems are inadequate for experience. But the question is then, What is experience?”[1] In a conversation from 1999, just when New York’s Bowery district was going through profound transformation and land value was rising rapidly, Rosler’s reflection  on the series’ title places the emphasis on another of global capitalism’s inherent processes: the devaluing of experience as it is turned into a product for consumption. This also highlights art’s paradoxical role in these processes. While art today acts to continually provide and facilitate experiences, it is essentially a critical practice.

Space is The Place/The Place is Space is a study group whose structure will take the shape of periodical encounters. It aims to analyse the role of art as a critical practice which offers tools for stopping, looking and situating ourselves in the world; for creating situations and imagining ways of living and producing space.

[1] “Una conversación. Martha Rosler y Benjamin H. D. Buchloh”. in Martha Rosler: Posiciones en el mundo real. Barcelona: MACBA/Actar, 1999 [Quaderns Portàtils #18, 2009].