Alternative Histories / SJS x Archizoom
Exhibition at Cork Street Galleries, 6 Cork Street, Mayfair, London 23rd March – 14th April 2019.
Our contribution to an exhibition curated by Jantje Engels and Marius Grootveld in collaboration with Drawing Matter and the Architecture Foundation. The exhibition presents 88 new models made by practices throughout the UK and Europe each in response to historical drawings from the Drawing Matter collection.
Our starting point was Archizoom’s drawing Ponte Arcobaleno (Rainbow Bridge) from 1968. Our response as follows (including our ‘collaborative’ Archizoom x SJS drawing):
What might the purpose of an alternative history be? How might we collaborate with the past? What passes from one generation to another or from one hand to another? Is the construction of a (new) model of an (old) project a way of producing an alternative past? Or different present?
It been interesting working with Archizoom. In honesty they were difficult partners. Their drawing a cryptic message, delivered without a cypher. Clearly an idea about architecture in the form of a recognisable yet distorted form. An arch? A bridge? Something like a brick chimney or a column (or something else that should be vertical) bent into the arc of a rainbow. Solid masonry form infected by the physics of light and the transience of weather systems. At least this was the transmission from the past that we could make out. Our response to subject other architectural forms to the same architectural forces. Columns, skyscrapers, churches, barns, houses, obelisks – all things that should provide symbolic stability destabilised by a different order of behaviour.
Our model making might be a form of deciphering, a way of transcribing a scratchy message broadcast by Archizoom’s drawing. Making becomes a way of understanding and translating. Across the crackly airwaves of that all architecture is form shaped by the conflict of one thing with another where history, culture and canon is bent by the prevailing winds. Where architecture is shaped by alignment of things far beyond its own circumstance. And that occasionally these forces have the possibility to manifest shining and magical like a rainbow.