SQM: The Theatre of Everyday Life
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SQM is a research into the condition of this unfamiliar space known as home—a speculative assemblage of historical artefacts, moments of contemporary domesticity collected on social mediaand  films presented in the Theatre of Everyday Life, a temporary installation in the Rambla at Kortrijk Xpo. It investigates different themes that have shaped domestic life in the post-war era, from the kitchen as a space for political rebellion to the bedroom as a space to be sold, from the home as an engine of financial speculation to a stage set for public broadcast.


This project is a part of SQM: The Home Does Not Exist.

SQM is a research into the condition of this unfamiliar space we affectionately call home—a speculative assemblage of fragments of domesticity present and future in the form of an exhibition, The Theatre of Everyday Life. Our values have changed, and the home as we once knew it no longer exists: this project is an invitation to abandon received ideals of domesticity and observe with new eyes the challenges and opportunities for design in our time, thrilling and unpalatable as they may be.The Theatre of Everyday Life explores contemporary domesticity through historical artefacts, broadcast of contemporary domesticity collected on social media (Home Screen) and original films in an architectural installation along the Rambla at Kortrijk Xpo. It investigates different themes that have shaped domestic life in the post-war era, from the kitchen as a space for political rebellion to the bedroom as a space to be sold, from the home as an engine of financial speculation to a stage set for public broadcast, and more. The exhibition will also include original stories and drawings of 20 significant homes featured in the SQM book.


This project is a part of SQM: The Home Does Not Exist.

Project team: Joseph Grima, Giulia Finazzi (structure); Tamar Shafrir, Joseph Grima, Andrea Bagnato (display)
Visual design: Folder (Marco Ferrari, Elisa Pasqual)
The structure of the Theatre of Everyday Life was generously provided by Prokoss Mobilrot. Benedetto Zito coordinated its production; the Prokoss team is composed of Roland Gruber, Rita Gjidoda, Sandro Rossi, Mario Folchini, and Massimiliano Bongiorni.Thanks to Pieter Blondé and Ann Goethals of Chloroform and An Michiels, Joost Vanhecke, Céline Lagae from Biennale Interieur.Commissioned by Biennale Interieur, Kortrijk, Belgium

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Domesti-city
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Discussions with designers, writers, and curators
In 1968 (the year of both Archigram’s Instant City and Jean Baudrillard’s Le Système des Objets), when the first edition of Biennale Interieur opened in Belgium, the home was a central site of critical attention and investigation. A new domestic landscape—as identified by the prominent MoMA exhibition four years later—emerged from increasingly hypothetical conceptions of living, in which the quest for social change was paralleled by the confidence in new materials and technologies. In the 1960s and 1970s, avant-garde architects produced countless visions of future cities as well as future domesticity.

Throughout history, plans for an ideal society have often been articulated through the space of the home. Whether borne out of necessity or radical ideology, these projects are a subconscious portrayal of the desires and fears of both their individual authors and the wider social contexts behind them. The cross-section drawings presented in Domesti-city allow for a comparative view of multiple ideal homes, making visible spatial and social implications that may be difficult to read in plan. The new building regulations drafted in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London defined the model of the single-family terraced house, which would become the basic unit of London’s expansion for the following two centuries; the social condensers designed by the Russian constructivists embodied the pursuit of a new, egalitarian society visible in their collective kitchens; the homes designed by American companies in the 1950s were almost manifestos for economic optimism.

Thus, domestic interiors are neither neutral, nor innocent. They are the product of a perpetual tension between external forces (economical, political, even microbiological) rarely taken into account by designers. Yet it is at the scale of the interior that the transition between everyday objects and urban questions takes place.

In recent decades, domestic space has all but disappeared from the critical agenda—in parallel with its increasing commodification. Hosting a series of discussions with designers, writers, and curators (including Paola Antonelli, Bruce Sterling, Justin McGuirk, and others) Domesti-city has launched the SQM research project that Space Caviar will present at Biennale Interieur (17–26 October 2014) in Kortrijk. Tracing market fluctuations, failed ideals, global flows, and new fabrication techniques, SQM will make the case for a renewed discussion on the home.

In recent decades, domestic space has all but disappeared from the critical agenda—in parallel with its increasing commodification. Hosting a series of discussions with designers, writers, and curators (including Paola Antonelli, Bruce Sterling, Justin McGuirk, and others) Domesti-city has launched the SQM research project that Space Caviar will present at Biennale Interieur (17–26 October 2014) in Kortrijk. Tracing market fluctuations, failed ideals, global flows, and new fabrication techniques, SQM will make the case for a renewed discussion on the home.
Project team: Joseph Grima, Tamar Shafrir, Andrea Bagnato, Giulia Finazzi, Alicia Ongay-Perez
Supported by Biennale Interieur
Exhibition dates:
8 — 13 April 2014, Salone del Mobile 2014: Atelier Clerici, Palazzo Clerici, Milan, Italy
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Archeology of Rose Island
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In 1967, Italian engineer Giorgio Rosa designed and funded the construction of a 400 square metre platform in the Adriatic Sea, 11 km off the coast of Rimini, Italy, supported by nine pylons and furnished it with a number of amenities including a restaurant, a bar, a souvenir shop and a post office. He named the platform the Republic of Rose Island (Esperanto: Respubliko de la Insulo de la Rozoj), and proceeded to declare independence from Italy, pointing out that the platform was positioned just outside Italy’s territorial waters and therefore not subject to its sovereignty. The experiment was short-lived: on 11 February 1969, the island was demolished by the Italian state.Rosa copyrighted the invention under the name “System to build artificial islands—in steel and concrete—both for civil and industrial purposes” (#850.987). In his own words, the invention “consists in arranging a structure on the beach and floating it offshore to a predetermined location with a maximum sea depth of 40 metres. The pillars, which are empty, are lowered vertically to the bottom of the sea floor. Then steel tubes are inserted in the pillars and pushed into the sea floor. Later, the pillars are filled with cement to complete the structure, with no risk of corrosion.” The island even incorporated a pole to retrieve fresh water from 280 metres below the sea floor, with the idea of retrieving oil to sell to motor boats at cheap prices, without the Italian tax. To date, Isola delle Rose is one of only two artificial island nations successfully realised as a new territory with a self-declared government.

The essence of Isola delle Rose is in its nature as a political act of critical synthesis through design. Rosa’s project prefigured the collapse of faith in representative democracy at the dawn of the 21st century, preemptively responding to this crisis through the deployment of a mix of political activism, architecture and technology. Archaeology of Rose Island revisits the remains of the platform on the seabed of the Adriatic, re-examining its relevance in the context of the contemporary surge of interest in libertarianism and technological emancipation from State control.

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Project team: Joseph Grima, Tamar Shafrir
Graphic design by Folder
Exhibition Dates:
6 December 2013 — 28 February 2014, Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture, Shenzhen, China
24 May — 2 August 2014, Part of Coming Soon, Bureau Europa, Maastricht, Netherlands

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Adhocracy
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Commissioned by the first Istanbul Design Biennale in 2012, Adhocracy is an exhibition questioning the impact of new technologies and network culture on the practice of design in the 21st century. The exhibition brings together an international group of designers, architects, artists, filmmakers and thinkers working at the intersection of design, politics, public space and information design.

In the last few years, exponential technologies have substantially transformed how we work, communicate, and relate. Network culture today permeates everyday life, with a profound impact the way designers think and work and the nature of the objects they produce. This exhibition explores these transformations and offers a critical contextualization within the history of design. Adhocracy is purposefully heterogeneous, embracing everything from medical innovation to cultural and political criticism, and from furniture design to weapons manufacturing. Central themes are the evolving notion of authorship, the surge in collaborative open-source design practices, the “commons” as a crucial space of autonomous production and information design as a vital field of political activism.

As the theater of a fast-moving debate over society’s future, design is today engaged in a struggle between bureaucracy and improvisation, authority and the irrepressible force of networks, in search of a new language and a new commons. Adhocracy argues that rather than the closed object, the maximum expression of design today is the process—the activation of open systems, tools that shape society by enabling self-organization, platforms of collaboration that only partly conform to the capitalist model of competition, and empowering networks of production.

The exhibition, located in the Galata Greek School, included several laboratories of experimental on-site production, such as Blablablab’s “Be Your Own Souvenir” project or Unfold’s “Stratigraphic Manufactury,” in which local ceramists create 3-D-printed porcelain artifacts on-site. The exhibition was accompanied by a publication, The Adhocracy Reader, published by IKSV.

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In the last few years, exponential technologies have substantially transformed how we work, communicate, and relate. Network culture today permeates everyday life, with a profound impact the way designers think and work and the nature of the objects they produce. This exhibition explores these transformations and offers a critical contextualization within the history of design. Adhocracy is purposefully heterogeneous, embracing everything from medical innovation to cultural and political criticism, and from furniture design to weapons manufacturing. Central themes are the evolving notion of authorship, the surge in collaborative open-source design practices, the “commons” as a crucial space of autonomous production and information design as a vital field of political activism.

Curator: Joseph Grima
Associate curators: Ethel Baraona Pohl, Elian Stefa, Pelin Tan
Production coordinator: Alessandro Mason
Technical coordinator: Yaşar Kayhan
Exhibition design: ifau and Jesko Fezer
Graphic design: Folder
Catalogue editors: Avinash Rajagopal, Vera Sacchetti, Tamar Shafrir
Editorial coordinator: Merve Yücel
Exhibition dates:
13 October — 12 December 2012, Istanbul Design Biennial at Galata Greek School, Karaköy, Istanbul
4 May – 7 July 2013 The New Museum, New York
4 September – 12 October 2013 Limewharf, London

Press:
New York Times T MagazineThe Architect’s NewspaperThe Architectural ReviewAbitareDezeendesignboom, DisegnoIt’s Nice ThatWallpaper, Urban Omnibus

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Utilitas Interrupta: An Infrastructural Index of Unfulfilled Ambitions
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“The ultimate defect of projects—they die—takes us back to their beginnings: they were condemned from the start because some crazy engineers had mistaken dreams for reality. […] Yes, you have to reread your Hegel because, you know, technological reality isn’t rational, and it’s no good rationalizing it after the fact.”
—Bruno Latour, ARAMIS, or the Love of Technology, 1996

Utilitas Interrupta, an exhibition at experimentadesign 2011: Useless, is a research on how the construction and subsequent abandonment of infrastructure can be taken as a form of cultural memory, an index of society’s evolving priorities. Since the dawn of time, man’s average dreams, challenges and, ultimately, accomplishments have materialised in works of infrastructure. From Babylonian hydraulics to the geoengineered archipelagos of the twenty-first century, great infrastructural works represent the apex of design achievement—and often, by virtue of their sheer magnitude, the most tangible expression of a culture’s development, ambition and might. Canals, power plants, fortifications, reclaimed lands, particle accelerators, aqueducts, telecommunications networks, dams: infrastructure is justifiably held up as the register of society’s collective accomplishment and the historical benchmark of its leaders’ enlightenment.

Burdened with such momentous responsibility, infrastructure inevitably also comes to immortalise society’s most catastrophic failures. Such debacles surround us: the infrastructural coitus interruptus of countless politician’s pet projects, stalled by a myriad of financial crises; China’s infamous ghost cities and America’s abandoned shopping malls; the abandoned concrete carcasses of unfinished hotels scattered along the banks of the Red Sea; the 3,400 airports built in the 1970s and 1980s throughout the former Soviet Union that today lie abandoned, victims of the market economy’s relentless drive towards centralisation.

Yet failure can in itself be as revealing as success. Utilitas Interrupta sets out to closely read infrastructural works that no longer satisfy the Vitruvian injunction to be useful: projects once celebrated and now forgotten, reminders of a long-gone (or not so long-gone) optimism that lie concealed in plain sight, magically erased from collective consciousness despite their often gargantuan proportions. Like scars indelibly etched into the landscape, these structures are the repositories of forgotten stories of zeal and passion, neglected then swept aside like lovers no longer able to please.

This exhibition investigates seventeen case studies, transversally sampled from various points in time and space. Infrastructure rendered obsolete by the indomitable pressure of technological progress; the infrastructure of paranoia, useless by definition; vanity infrastructure, purposeless except as proof of its own existence; the foiled infrastructure of honourable ideals and unfulfilled intentions; infrastructure scuttled by misfortune or catastrophe and left to decompose; the infrastructure of the absurd, the comical and the tragic—stories of heroic deeds in which the cure is feared as worse than the disease.

If the landscape is the theatre in which the mundane of history is acted out, these infrastructural scars are an eloquent reminder that history as we know it is but one of many possible—and equally plausible—stories.

Utilitas Interrupta, an exhibition at experimentadesign 2011: Useless, is a research on how the construction and subsequent abandonment of infrastructure can be taken as a form of cultural memory, an index of society’s evolving priorities. Since the dawn of time, man’s average dreams, challenges and, ultimately, accomplishments have materialised in works of infrastructure. From Babylonian hydraulics to the geoengineered archipelagos of the twenty-first century, great infrastructural works represent the apex of design achievement—and often, by virtue of their sheer magnitude, the most tangible expression of a culture’s development, ambition and might. Canals, power plants, fortifications, reclaimed lands, particle accelerators, aqueducts, telecommunications networks, dams: infrastructure is justifiably held up as the register of society’s collective accomplishment and the historical benchmark of its leaders’ enlightenment.
Curator: Joseph Grima
Associate Curator: Elian Stefa
Graphic Design: Neil Donnelly
With contributions from: Alicja Dobrucka, Armin Linke, Bertin & CIE, Bogdan Stojanovic, Bruce Sterling, Elian Stefa, Gaia Cambiaggi, Geoff Manaugh, Grégoire Basdevant, Haubitz+Zoche, Igor Kuznetsov, Igor Sharovatov, Ivan Kuryachiy, Jessica Russell, Minkoo Kang, Nicola Twilley, Noah Sheldon, Sergey Kulikov, Ulrich Pohlmann
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Project Heracles
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MEP Marisa Matias introduces Project Heracles at the European Parliament, Brussels; Lieven de Cauter, Dieter Lesage, and Joseph Grima in conversation at the opening of Project Heracles
Inspired by an email exchange dating back to 2002 between philosophers Lieven De Cauter and Dieter Lesage, Project Heracles is a commentary on the progressive closure and fortification of the European continent’s boundaries. The project, launched in May 2011 in Domus magazine and later presented as an micro-exhibition and debate in the European Parliament in Brussels, was an open call to architects, artists and designers to propose possible connections between the European and African continents across the Strait of Gibraltar in the form of postcards. The 200 imaginary works of infrastructure that were proposed suggested a wide range of possible answers to an ancient geopolitical dilemma: how to overcome—or at least reduce—the abyss that still separates Africa from Europe, despite the line of sight that unites the two shores across a 14 km stretch of water.

The 200 proposals received were exhibited in the Gopher Hole gallery in London in 2012 and subsequently in the central atrium of the European Parliament in Brussels in 2013. The exhibition was accompanied by an open letter to Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council.

Read the open letter

The project, launched in May 2011 in Domus magazine and later presented as an micro-exhibition and debate in the European Parliament in Brussels, was an open call to architects, artists and designers to propose possible connections between the European and African continents across the Strait of Gibraltar in the form of postcards. The 200 imaginary works of infrastructure that were proposed suggested a wide range of possible answers to an ancient geopolitical dilemma: how to overcome—or at least reduce—the abyss that still separates Africa from Europe, despite the line of sight that unites the two shores across a 14 km stretch of water.
Images:
Top: Postcard #143, Fabrizio Tozzoli and Eliana Salazar
Middle: Postcard #109, Life Crossing, Gianfranco Toso
Bottom: MEP Marisa Matias introduces Project Heracles at the European Parliament, Brussels
Exhibition dates:
17 – 20 December 2013: European Parliament Building, Brussels
12 April 2013: Afrofuture, la Rinascente, Milan
22 – 24 January 2012: DLD 2012, Munich
21 July – 4 August 2011: The Gopher Hole, London
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