Working on places of conflict can be extremely challenging. As soon as a polarised discussion is addressed with a proposal, it is bound to cause some sort of backlash by at least one of the affected parties. There is no clear way out of it. Or is there? Architecture practice Hybrid Space Lab takes a rather unique approach for the re-signification of the controversial site of Valle de los Caídos in Madrid, the burial ground of Spain’s dictator Francisco Franco and 33,000 victims of the country’s brutal civil war.
I want to talk about identities not as a noun, not as a static fixed, a stagnant item, but as a verb— a string in motion, and more importantly, as something that is given to you, whether you like it or not. Identity is a verb in that it’s very thingness as a thing is made via the act of identifying, tagging, defining, another. To be an identity is intrinsically to be given that identity— an identity which is given— to be identified as such, to navigate the world with that given identity. To be identified is supremely political— it is supremely about power— the power of definition— the power of subjugation. To subjugate the other, the other first must be identified as such and such other, having such and such characteristics, to create those characteristics by the act of saying that they are there, by making an inventory of the things one can be, things to be classified by. They say it is there, so therefore it is there, and therefore you are that. You are fixed to this thing in this location, in this socialized body, in this confined environment— the identified is always the other, the other condemns itself by the invented traits [“the other is less because that is who the other is”] — traits that are exploitable, condemnable— (im)proper(tied).
The main character of this short story is the Aldo Rossi Moka, designed by the famous Italian architect for the brand Alessi in 1988. But the story is about more than just a moka.
The independent periodical of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at the Delft University of Technology
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