The dislocated center: the Latin American Architecture Biennale 2011 Pamplona, a reading from the colonies. By: Pedro Livni + Gonzalo Carrasco Purull.
Latin American Architecture Biennale, BAL 2011 (http://www.as20.org) is an event bringing together the highlights of the Latin American scene sub-40. Organized by the Research Group of the Twentieth Century Architecture (AS20) – through the University of Navarra – the Biennial aims to constitute «a channel to present recent examples in Spain’s leading young architects professional practice across the ocean, creating a forum in which to narrow ribbons, to shorten distances and establish a firm and solid counterpoint to the Anglo-Saxon. » It is in this spirit to present the issue of architecture «on the other side of the pond», is that it emphasizes the participation of architects exceptional production, such as Owar Architects, Architects DRN, Talhouk Polidura + Architects, Landscape Emerging Architects and Associates FRENTEarquitectura, among others.
While the quality of selection has been assured by the presence of significant figures in the scientific committee, such as Fernando Pérez Oyarzun (Chile), Alejandro Aravena (Chile), Enrique X. de Anda (Mexico), Carlos Ferreira Martins (Brazil) and Jorge F. Liermur (Argentina). What first strikes the event is its strong dislocation. Displacement resulting in the fact that a Latin American Biennial ride in Spain. A shift not without consequences.
The first thing that stands out in the BAL 2011, is the criterion which has been viewed Latin America. This reads like an area identified mainly from their geographical position. This is how this vast territory, is split into five geographical areas: Mexico, Colombia-Caribbean Area-Ecuador-Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Chile-Bolivia-Peru.
A reading in Latin America that also overlaps with another reading of the continent and known, also made from Spain: the subdivision from Viceroyalties America. An overlay that fits almost perfectly with the domains of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, Viceroyalty of New Granada, Viceroyalty of Brazil, the Viceroyalty of La Plata and the Viceroyalty of Peru.
Can you stand today, the only Latin American culture can be defined by geography, just as what is sought to present in a Biennale of Architecture is the construction (literal and phenomenal) from the same culture? «This above all, when this approach implies a zone filing fees? Is there no other way to read a quality architectural production as presented is not only set the geographic differences? In the midst of a fully globalized society, «Latin America can be more than geography?
Categories, or the way of migration.
As is well known, since in 1955 the historian H. R. Hitchcock made world famous in category «Latin American architecture», this has been used in many ways, serving multiple purposes, being used even today. In the beginning this category – created from an institution: the MOMA in NY – was used to refer to architectural production in the Americas, except Canada and the U.S.. With the precise intention of the U.S. to test the influence of that country in producing architectural (and cultural) of the rest of America. Step becoming the center of cultural production, displacing the hegemony that Europe remained until then
For the construction of these categories, Hitchcock begins by noting the geographic qualities of the continent, associated with the remote and distant, exotic, all qualities that will be crucial for understanding the Latin American phenomenon. A look that will make clear an approach from an «outside», showing respect to Latin America as a center periphery. Thus for «Latin American architecture» will reinforce a number of units and reporting relationships, where architectural production or responds to a certain «influences» on some sites, or the best to a heightened sensitivity to be understood primarily as a continent geography.
Moreover, this category of «Latin American architecture» will be incorporated in a completely opposite direction by American critics (Gutiérrez, Waisman, Bullrich, Eliash, among others), who in the late 70’s the position, becoming much during the 80’s. Thus the category of «Latin American architecture» will be used from a discourse of resistance to cultural domination coming from a hegemonic centers, especially the U.S. and Europe.
Paradoxically, this second use of the term «Latin American architecture» – in the sense of resistance – will repeat the same logic contained in the first sense: that of forcing many diverse productions in a single monolithic category. Making clear that «things are passed elsewhere.»
Soft symmetries , soft colonialism.
Liermur Francisco – one of the most authoritative voices in the region and member of scientific committee of BAL 2011 – was invited as a juror a few years ago the Latin American version of Mies van der Rohe Award. On that occasion, Liermur explained his decision to refuse such an invitation, motivated by the fact that – unlike the European version of the award – was a supremacy of European judges. This discomfort in the composition of the jury, Liermur described as «soft symmetries»
«Looking at the composition of the jury, perhaps we could say that things are not so tremendous. After all, it gave the nine Latin Americans are almost half – four – while only five, the remaining from other European countries and the United States. This is what I call a soft symmetry. That certainly takes on added force when one notes that in turn none of the nine-member jury that awards the EU from Latin America. I wonder what the basis of this difference and I cannot organize any reasonable answer and / or «politically correct.» It is true that this is an award from a European institution, but then: What do jury on two members from Latin America? Not enough with a representative of the sponsoring institution – the secretary, for instance – to fulfill a formal requirement understandable? Viewed in another way: Why there was and is so far no Latin American member in the European jury? Certainly not because of strict geographical relevance. In this case: What was one of them a prestigious Japanese colleague? »
While for Liermur these «soft symmetry» were the product of a panel of judges from the recognition of a center to a periphery, in the case of BAL could speak of a «soft dependencies.» Some units do not go through the establishment of who makes the team – a group of prominent American intellectuals – but for an event «posted», which tells of a central «dislocated.» Because one might ask as Liermur, what – at least strange – Latin American Biennial make a dislocated as a center is Pamplona. As strange as making a European Architecture Biennial in Sao Paulo, Montevideo and Mexico City
Pamplona, the dislocated center.
The BAL 2011 in its objectives, along with serving as a platform for the freshest of the Latin American scene, said that «this initiative is launched with the ambition of the city of Pamplona becomes clear cultural reference point contact and closer to Europe by the Latin American cultural world. » Thus, although Latin America Pamplona against seeking recognition as a center from which there is – it reads – a periphery, this city seeks through this event out of their remote location from other cultural centers. In logic as the mechanism of a Russian doll, spoke of a facility that looks at another center, which in turn searches for other centers. Behavior that describes the futility and ephemeral nature, precarious and fleeting with centralities – at least the cultural – in the contemporary scene.
Adrian Searle in an article published last March 27 for The Guardian, analyzed the complicated situation of the Spanish cultural scene. Where despite the heavy investments made by both the Spanish government and by private investors have failed to position Spain as a cultural center within the international stage. And this despite the holding of competitions designed to promote emerging artists, the creation of scholarships and the construction of museums carried out by leading architects of the «star-system.» Despite the Bilbao Guggenheim, the Reina Sofía, the MACBA, the Framework, and the still unfinished and Pharaonic City of Culture in Santiago de Compostela, the Spanish cultural scene does not become a center. Spanish artists, many of them benefited from the efforts made in recent years by the cultural policies end up migrating to other places, to other centers.
The centrality of BAL 2011 dislocated perhaps justified to question the nature of contemporary cultural centers. While Berlin, Paris and New York, were in the past firmly anchored to a central place – centers located – the contemporary scene appears to move a dislocated up the idea of centrality. Where the centers are mobile, they suffer dislocations and displacements.
Dislocations or strategy Moby Dick.
The displacement of the centers speaks of a trans-territoriality, mobility demands a new way to read the terrain over which it travels. And this means new ways of representing cultural territories. As the map of America published by the group America in the sixties, debtor «South, our north» of J. T. Garcia with his famous reverse America, or the map of Buckminster Fuller Dimaxion, where a reading of the territory is associated with a new way of thinking. It takes about ways to think, read and imagine a territory break away from colonial readings. Some readings that speak of a vocation for mobility, simultaneity, by occupying temporary positions are known. Ability like Moby Dick, let is everywhere making it possible strength.
Moby Dick because he knew the sea, in constant change, always ends by erasing your footprints. VKPK.