> Smoke architecture, 2015

 

This installation presents the continuously evolving processes associated with the production of the artisanal brick. Within the external gallery entrance, a fully functional furnace is found, from whose roof protrudes a galvanized steel duct system used to expel the heat and smoke emitted from the kiln. The duct system enters through one of the gallery windows, meandering through the entirety of the space, snaking from room-to-room as a means of dispersion of actual and symbolic energy. Distributed between the rooms are the diverse processes involved in the manufacturing of the brick: the extraction of the ground material; the pass-through sifter; the mold making; natural drying of the brick; and finally, the firing within the kiln. A friction between the two archetypes is generated by this exhibition; on one side is the industrial modernist (piping) system and on the other is the pre-modernist handcraft of brickmaking. Within the pre-modern Andean culture, the earth used in the construction of homes is considered a symbolic source of life. Conversely, the metal duct system references the overt industrialization and instrumentalization of resource extraction, thereby marking the transition to a more estranged method of modern production.Each week, throughout the duration of the show, 500 new bricks are made. There is no exact reference as to who is producing them, but traces of their evolution keep appearing; this includes notes, tests, structural plans, etc. Geometric structures made from the newly produced bricks are gradually erected within the gallery space, forming barriers across the central corridors. These structures are reproductions of designs employed in the urban architecture of contemporary crowd control––for containing and channelling mass movements––therefore alluding to an imposed model of authoritarian supervision (for example, airport security queuing-systems, riot control measures, etc).

Therefore, how are we to ideally conceive of productivity and progress? Smoke Architecture suggests that, rather than an emancipatory flow of free human potential made available by our capacities of construction––an effort that uses nothing but our hands, feet and the earth––here, an alternative kind of will is at work; one that aims to restrict the visitor’s transit, imposing a predetermined direction, whilst policing the imagination.