MA in Research Architecture Graduation Exhibition
Opening: Tuesday 28th at 700pm

Venue: CRA studios RHB 312+313 – Main Building, Goldsmiths

curated by MARA graduate Dana Behrman

participants: Erhan Öze, Campbell Drake, Yazan AlKahlili, Duncan Marsden, Sidsel Hansen, Pol McLernon, Kerstin Schroedinger, Lottie Cantle, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Dana Behrman, Leen Kayyali, Ana Reis

tutors: Eyal Weizman, John Palmesino, Andy Low, Ayesha Hammed, Paulo Tavares

Download Poster / Catalogue


Spaces of Negotiation presents research projects developed by the students of the MA Programme at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths – University of London, during the 2009-2010 academic year. Besides providing a common entry point to the different works at display, the title of the exhibition expresses a major conceptual thread discussed throughout the year, namely the idea that space – at architectural, urban or geographical scales – is first and foremost the product of socially conflicting – yet culturally and politically productive – forms of collective gatherings. Moreover, Spaces of Negotiation also attempts to function as a meta-narrative device, for the show not only makes explicit how the tool-box of architecture can be employed to visualize the way by which power relations give shape to the social, but also how the practice of architecture itself is one of the constitutive lines implicated in that process.

Negotiation, understood as a collective practice and all derived cultural activities implied thereof, requires – or perhaps, one could even say, it is possible only because of – a set of architectural devices that enable and sustain its material reality. Being it a political, a juridical, a cultural or a public forum – the parliament, the court, the museum or the city square – spaces of negotiation are produced by registering the codes of political, legal and aesthetic relations into tangible and functional spatial structures. Yet this literal analogy is not sufficient to probe the question set forth. The conceptual critical point here goes beyond what is institutionally and formally defined. Architecture is analyzed not only as the materiality that holds a political arena together but – and more importantly – the very object around which a collective comes into being. To put it in different words: negotiation not only happens in space but over spatial issues, for politics and aesthetics are not abstract relations between individuals but an organized set of partitions established around the dispute over boundaries. Hence the (political) essence of architecture become sensible: before being a wall, a wall is a device that regulates flows and controls movements; before being a window, a window is an operative tool that modulates modes of vision… Not only the site neither solely the object of practices of negotiation; architecture is the very medium through which agreements and disagreements are manifested in everyday reality.

Those questions unfold in multiple and overlapping layers throughout the exhibition. From the disciplinary spatial lexicon of social housing in Britain (Language and the Production of Space), through the militarized structure of Divis Flats in Belfast (Helicopters & Whispers), up scale to the urban infrastructures of Aleppo in Syria (Cracks of Informality), architecture is described as a technique of cutting, connecting and locating which directly interferes in the ways the social is organized by making possible the design of the limits between the public and the private, zones of exclusion and contiguity, between the visible and what is not seen. A similar rationale of “border-analysis” is transferred to geopolitical dimensions in the investigation of disputed claims over territorial sovereignty due to climate-change effects in the relations between land and water in the Northern Sea (Open Sea). The conflictive occupation of radio frequencies in divided Cyprus (Interpretations of sovereignty via frequencies) and the intense spatial transformations undergoing in Scotland (Constructing Scotland) are read vis-à-vis ideologies of nation-building that are transmitted to the public domain through the production of media/land-scapes. Scientific methodologies qua spatial practices also appear as privileged spaces of negotiation: archeology as the site of conflictive historical narratives (Born Again Landscape); the laboratory-city probing the limits between the natural and the artificial (From information to Environment); a maritime expedition in search of the re-organization of the partitions between the known and the unknown in the deep sea (Offshore Laboratory). More experimental projects make use of different media to question the very role of media in defining subtle yet powerful conventions: the aural as the performative dimension of the legal contract (Sound as Evidence), the dialectics between light and darkness as the projective, utopian re-organization of subjective political landscape in Palestine/Israel (Landscape of Darkness); the audio-visual as a meta-space which recursively questions the production of the gaze in the realm of the cinematic (Rigid Things Can Always be Moved About).

Cutting through all different works at display, a single concern: as architecture is not merely the backdrop of social relations, thus research in architecture cannot content itself to be a simple mode of displaying cultural and spatial narratives. After one year of intense work, the Centre for Research Architecture opens its studio to the public so that it can become a public arena itself. Embodying the very idea of which it is a product, Spaces of Negotiation not only shows a methodology of knowledge production but also aims be a space whereby we can imagine new futures of collective-building.

Paulo Tavares, MA Tutor

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 26th, 2010 at 6:52 pm
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