Neoasterisms
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Located in Lisbon’s main planetarium, Planetário Calouste Gulbenkian, Neoasterisms is a participatory project commissioned as part of experimentadesign 2013: No Borders. Neoasterisms examines the history of astronomical cartography as a site of cultural hegemony and a metaphor for histories of political decision-making, proposing a new map of the stars based on an open, participatory and culturally inclusive standard.

Neoasterisms invites participants from all over the world—either in person or via the web platform wikistars.org—to propose new constellations, submit their own mythologies, and revive lost astronomical traditions that were set aside when the global standard of celestial nomenclature was introduced by the International Astronomical Union in 1922. It is an attempt to question the largely Western-Eurocentric nature of contemporary astronomical standards.

Neoasterisms builds a framework for the collaborative inscription of the ideals, fears, and dreams of a new civilisation. If we started from scratch, if we looked at our starscape as a tabula rasa, what new constellations would we draw in 2013—in an era of borderless interaction, the simultaneous diversification and homogenisation of culture, and the proliferation of networks throughout society? What myths from distant cultures would we choose to revive as emblems of our own value system? Which artifacts or figures would we elevate to mythic status? What marginalised narratives would be unearthed? And how would we find resolution between independent voices in a process of global decision-making?

Neoasterisms invites participants from all over the world—either in person or via the web platform wikistars.org—to propose new constellations, submit their own mythologies, and revive lost astronomical traditions that were set aside when the global standard of celestial nomenclature was introduced by the International Astronomical Union in 1922. It is an attempt to question the largely Western-Eurocentric nature of contemporary astronomical standards.
Project team: Joseph Grima, Tamar Shafrir

Graphic design by Folder
Table fabrication by Alessandro Mason and Marcello Comoglio
Illustration by Giada Fiorindi
Website by Manuel Ehrenfeld
Video by Ben Landau

Exhibition dates:
9 November – 22 December 2013: experimentadesign 2013: No Borders, Planetário Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon
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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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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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