The Green Chair Project was born in 1991 in South Minneapolis when two lawn chairs were stolen from the backyard of Chris Hand and Joel Sisson. As artists, Chris and Joel, with the help of 14 teenagers from the neighborhood, built over 90 green Adirondack lawn chairs in their backyard and just before dawn one Sunday morning, gave them to their neighbors, two for each house, for a two-block stretch of Pleasant Avenue in Minneapolis. This was deemed by the media as a “crack street” and these teenagers were all to easily identified as gang members and “up to no good.” The Green Chair Project proved that given a chance, young people can and want to be productive members of society.
(photo from The Big Stuff Project blog by Josh, text from The Green Chair Project website)
Santiago Cirugeda Parejo exploits gaps in administrative structures, governmental bodies’ supervisory energies, official procedures, and where the law falls short. As Benedicte Grosjean writes in ArchiLab’s Futurehouse (2002): “[Cirugeda] formulates realistic and empirical strategies to push the law to its limits and find pockets of non-law in which to develop a possible habitat.”
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The project “Insect-House: The Tick’s Stratagem” came about when Alameda Viva invited Cirugeda to support their act of resistance to the cutting down of trees by occupying those same trees in Seville. By following the fundamental premises of efficacious urban guerrilla, the activist-architect designed shelters that allow for immediate construction. The outside shell protects occupants from possible aggressors. The shelter’s bottom is usually 4.5 meters off the ground and provides storage space; the top has a sliding shell for protection. The implicit goal was to remind people that even if their voice is considerably quieted, they still can act and decide. They have a say. Beyond a mere ecological attitude concerning the protection of trees to be cut down, this is a strategy of opposition to plans directed, and often imposed, on the population and its style of urban life.
When asked in a November 2004 interview if he had ever been arrested, Cirugeda replied: “Yes, I was arrested when I was very young. I didn’t know what to do because I was very young and afraid. It is interesting when an artist wants to do an exhibit, art installation or anything else, he can get permission to do whatever he wants and to show it in the street. But as a citizen, even if you ask for permission, you don’t get it, because you are not an artist. Therefore, I work from a citizen’s point of view, because as an architect I can get the permission required for my installation. But really I want to be a citizen. I see architecture as a social art. I don’t want only to appear in architecture magazines that show architecture as beautiful images. I want to be a part of the other pages too, to understand what a city is and what a citizen is.
For more, see Cirugeda’s “urban prescriptions” website @ http://www.recetasurbanas.net/
“small architecture BIG LANDSCAPES” @ The HGA Gallery, College of Design, University of Minnesota, January 24 – March 6, 2011.
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“In the house,” in Indianapolis, the expanded catalog produced by David Stairs and his Professional Practice students at Central Michigan University for the “small architecture BIG LANDSCAPES” show.
The “smallBIG” show, curated by Wes Janz and first exhibited at the Swope Art Museum (Terre Haute, Indiana) in early 2010, was also installed at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and Ball State University in 2010. It will be exhibited at the University of Minnesota College of Design and Central Michigan University in 2011, and Southern Illinois University in 2012. If you’re interested in the smallBIG show or catalog, contact email@example.com
For more on the design and production of the smallBIG catalog, see David Stairs’ “small architecture/BIG CATALOG” post at Design-Altruism-Project.
Know Sean Starowitz through the energies, intelligences, and challenges of his work: Compost Post, Co-Workers, Bosses & Supervisors: A Design Show, Office Works, Plywood Palaces, S’mores vending cart, Trade Show, and notably, his SPEAK! project as conducted at the BFA opening at the Kansas City Art Institute and on the streets of Chicago.