Issue #4
April 2016
128 Pages
+ - 112 mins
18 x 25 cm
12 Eur
ENG/SPA Bilingual Edition BUY
Money at the Crossroads. In 1932, when the US economy was going through its worse crisis since the crash of 1929, Diego Rivera was invited to create a mural for the main hall of the RCA Building (Radio Corporation of America), main building of the Rockefeller complex, home to collapsing capitalism. The central section depicted a labourer operating a machine, a mechanism that controlled the universe, manipulated life and divided the macrocosm from the microcosm.
‘This image of the strength of labour was guarded by a panel to the left, where one could appreciate the effects of capitalist society. On the right-hand panel, the socialist world with its main figures, as well as a representation of the Red Army and the union of the working class in the Red Square. A full-colour mural that anticipated the new imbalance, more and more bi-coloured, in the global economy and ideology. After months of work, Nilson Rockefeller, pushed by the building’s architect Raymond Hood, the engineer John R. Todd and other members of the committee, wrote a friendly letter to Rivera asking him to substitute the face of Lenin for an unknown one, as it could make the workers going through the hall everyday feel uncomfortable, and so the space could lose the necessary architectural qualities that would continue giving the impression that ‘everything works’. After Rivera’s refusal, on the 9th of February 1934, the mural called the Man at the Crossroads, still in progress, was destroyed.
Eight decades later, the stock market crashed again due to fraudulent movements in the property market. Architects’ attitude during the bubble of plenty preceding this most recent collapse was maybe the same as those who asked for the destruction of Rivera’s mural, complicity with the forms of capital, and to look the other way in search of their own survival when confronted with the uncomfortable reality.
Yet, inevitably, the landscape of architectural production after the financial crisis of 2008 was inescapably affected. Traditional models of financing projects became obsolete, and there was a period where the main project was to find money to carry out projects. This has not only led us to develop new forms of financing and management, it has transformed the character of what is built, and maybe more importantly, it has taken architectural production to new places that do not necessarily entail traditional practices and construction, but that find in the immaterial a new world to explore.
We often hear about the redefinition, reinvention, or reformulation of architecture, yet these transformations are nothing but the necessary consequence of the metamorphosis happening in all sectors of society. The economic condition is at a moment of great ambiguity. On one hand the global economic system and removal of tariffs, bank manoeuvring, and debt agreements between countries suffocate the citizens. On the other hand, more than ever before there is an immediate access to an informal network of collaborative intelligence, of micro-economy movements, that allows us to operate on the fringes of the official system. Every individual can instantly begin a market activity on a global scale. These movements do not only transform the way we buy and sell, consume and produce, but they shape our everyday lives. The Internet, and everything that happens in it, has become a defining force for a whole generation who share, reuse, and exchange with a click.
We rent our house or a room, we sell a place in our car when travelling elsewhere, we auction off personal belongings, or we share content for free on the web. Thus, the fluctuation of the ‘value of values’ is frenetic and indomitable. The macro structures cannot evolve at the same speed as the micro ones, and it is in this lag is where a rift occurs. The land, which was worth huge sums, now loses value and causes total chaos, because remember, we wanted to free the movement of “goods” across borders; the same borders that today block the movement of people. The abstraction of financial operations leads to games of science fiction, operating in a language so detached from reality it ends up voiding it. Yet it is precisely in that rift where the texts included in this issue appear: from the relationship between architecture and power; between architecture and art; between art and money. They talk about the role of architecture in the financial crisis, of the new architectures, and of the transformation of the ways of sharing knowledge. We believe that, as always throughout history, it is in the fissures and the catharsis where counter-movements are born, actions by visionary actors operating under other laws, who seek the way of not having to participate in the establishment, who invent astounding strategies. This issue aims to offer a small sample of some of these proposals. Some idealistic, some revealing, all which observe, analyse, and tell us subversions that we have not always been able to see, proposing other systems, or that remind us that they already exist and are starting to work, that search other meanings for capital, and understand that there are already other kinds of money. ◊