Alternative Initiatives Conference Series : Cuba
8th October 2010-RIBA, London
Alternative Initiatives Cuba Conference explored the impact of Cuba’s political and economic conditions on its architecture and speculated on the future of Cuban architecture and development.
The event was curated by Melissa Woolford of NOUS and Francisco Gonzales de Canales and Nuria Lombardero of Canales & Lombardero. The conference coordinator was Heather Picov.
Brett Steele (Director AA)
Ricardo Porro (Cuban Architect and Scholar)
Dr. Eusebio Leal Spengler (Havana City Historian, Restoration program of Old Havana and its historical center)
Nuria Alvarez Lombardero (AA)
Francisco Gonzalez de Canales (AA)
Dr. Francisco Gómez Díaz (AECID Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development, CICOT-JA International Cooperation for the Public Development Council-Junta de Andalucía & ETSA Sevilla)
Felipe Hernandez (Cambridge)
Emily Morris (CLARC London Metropolitan University)
Havana… The Dead Body of Paradise shows some glimpses of the research work of Inter 8 students on the city of Havana in January 2010. Revolution, Declamatory Art and Propaganda, Biological Exuberance, Rururbanity, Flesh Bursting and Decay, Collective Recycling, Dialogue and Confrontation, Archaic Machines, Low Commerce and Traditional Labour configure the cosmography of a city where imagination seems to be overwhelmed by the boldness of its material reality. The photographs here exhibited convey this message to the visitor. To the myth of being the capital of rumba, tobacco and rum, Havana responds with a heavy physical presence, hardened by a vertical sun which doesn’t allow any concealment of the ruin of its urban fabric. The pearl of the Antilles, the city of infinite wealth in the colonial world, is now a rotting paradise that reeks of sweat and debris, made of human physical contact, material recycling and constant wheeling and dealing. Fifty years of economic embargo have faded any heroism into an agonic expression of survival on the outskirts of the hegemony of global modernization. However, as peripheral, Havana seduces by demonstrating its otherness within the global condition. It traps its visitors in an intense tapestry of smell and touch that allows a different vantage point from which to redefine our idea of material expression –from a detached external object to an internalized and commonly shared biological process within the city. By chance or by fate, the decay of the city portrays this kind of Real-Marvelous condition as defined by the Cuban writer Alejo Carpertier. Yet this should not be seen as the sublimated reality romanticized by magical realisms, but the condition by which the biological processes of decay, dejection, and contamination subsume the collective imagination into the experience of everyday life, and the construction-destruction of the city.
Participants: Kayvan Sarvi, Max Hacke, Gary Dupont, Olivia Wright, Lyza Rudyk, Stavros Pappavasiliou, Karl Karam, Merve Anil, Atta Yousefi, Uliana Apatina.