Tan Antiguo como Los Volcanes - ONTA 2023
Syncretic Types and Trojan Horses
From the 16th to 19th centuries, colonisers, missionaries, fortune seekers and slaves - the outcast, persecuted, and destitute left Europe, Africa, and Asia for the mysterious 'Americas'. There, some escaped or found themselves stranded beyond the edges of the Empire and its institutions, technologies, and rationalities. Lost in deserts, mountains, or jungles, they were cared for and fed by those who had dwelled there for millennia. Nevertheless, they found themselves metaphysically shipwrecked in a strange new world. Thousands of perplexing and radically different reality islands existed, as enchanting, as they were terrifying. Each had its own languages and techniques for reconstructing its architecture and world. In places like New Mexico or the Amazon, colonisers and missionaries began to ‘syncretize,’ adapt, and transform their architecture and ways of life. They learned from situated rituals and architecture that included the participation the human and non-human, living, dead and not yet born - all of whom intimately depended on each other for their survival and happiness.
In an opposite way, near the centre of the Empire, indigenous peoples in what is now Mexico faced the choice of either assimilation into the European political, economic-religious system, or death. To preserve their ways of life, they constructed a fleet of ingenious ‘trojan horses,’ nesting or hiding their forms of knowledge, rituals, and ways of being inside of the apparatuses and architecture of the coloniser's system. Since then, their techniques for intuitive and participatory building and recovery of reality have evolved but are continually under attack.
This year in Diploma 19, we invite you to design new syncretic types of architecture in which multiple practices, forms of life and reality can overlap, co-exist, and flourish. Your architecture of alternate reality must be strategically nested inside of, or allowed to flow over the dominant, hegemonic one, which otherwise always wants to confine and abstract, destroying more autonomous, situated, and plural possible worlds. We want architectures of transition, which carve out spaces for alternative realities so that we might happily let go of the one which is already, irretrievably slipping away.
Brendon Carlin & James Kwang Ho Chung
AA Diploma 19, 2023