Screenshot de "The Streets of Rome during the Quarantine" | The New Yorker en youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLgM6bLh3Ag




Extracto del texto "Espacios Suspendidos: addendum" de 2013. El texto completo puede leerse en la entrada: https://www.patrickljaimes.com/post/espacios-suspendidos-addendum (...) ¿Qué es lo que provoca que la idea del abandono sea tan explorada y explotada? ¿Por qué la imagen de un lugar desierto, erosionado y derruido resulta tan seductora para tantas personas, en tantos entornos tan distintos? La idea de abandono, potenciada por el carácter directo y primitivo de la imagen, parece provocar una serie de reacciones también primales en el espectador, muchas de las cuales adquieren una potencia aún mayor en el entorno de incertidumbre mundial que vivimos. No es una casualidad que incontables series de televisión, películas y cada vez más series fotográficas, además de movimientos como el Urbex (exploración urbana), se desarrollen en escenarios de apariencia post-apocalíptica. Además de las fuertes resonancias emocionales e históricas que imágenes de esta clase generan, remitiendo por un lado a (reales o imaginarias) historias de vida y habitación de estos espacios, y por otro a escenarios catastróficos como conflictos bélicos y desastres naturales, esta segunda clase de ideas remueven a su vez memorias de inseguridad y/o dolor, y tal vez precisamente debido a la suma de todo ello es que la idea del abandono acabe transmitiendo, paradójicamente, una emoción de dos caras, causando en quien las ve tanto nostalgia como miedo e incertidumbre, o incluso, melancolía. Una segunda paradoja que surge a la hora de analizar la idea de incertidumbre, es que ésta probablemente no sea rehuida por el espectador, sino que podría ser incluso anhelada. La incertidumbre no necesariamente representaría una emoción negativa, sino que en ocasiones podría significar una especie de válvula de escape ficticia, un escenario cercano al término ‘Estado de la naturaleza’ discutido por Thomas Hobbes o John Locke. Un estado donde se ha diluido la noción de autoridad, de gobierno, de ley y de contrato social, y un regreso por tanto a un estado más primario de relación humana, natural y, otra vez, social. De nuevo, no es una casualidad que el incremento en el interés y/o atracción hacia esta clase de escenarios, surja en un momento histórico de gran incertidumbre, y en donde grandes sectores de la población expresan un gran descontento con el estado de las cosas, y el prospecto de futuro social, económico, ambiental, y hasta alimentario. En un mundo donde la privacidad es cada vez es más reducida, donde las formas poder y de control ejercidas por gobiernos y grandes corporaciones crecen y se multiplican, donde la disparidad en la distribución de recursos y oportunidades y por tanto la diferencia de clases sociales parecen incrementarse (y con ello las diferencias de poder), y donde los efectos de las políticas ambientales (o su ausencia) cada vez tienen


un mayor impacto tangible, la idea de un escape, una especie de tabula rasa, o una revolución cultural, parece representar un prospecto en ocasiones más atractivo que repulsivo, aún cuando esto suponga una verdadera catarsis/crisis humana -un sacudimiento a gran escala-. Todo esto es, por supuesto, en buena parte ficticio, y sin embargo ayuda a entender el aparente poder seductor de la idea de abandono. Se explicaría así también, porque este poder de seducción se multiplica a la hora de intersectarse con lo monumental. Es indiscutible que la arquitectura una y otra vez es utilizada como una encarnación física del poder. Las grandes pirámides, catedrales, los grandes monumentos a líderes políticos (en ocasiones auto monumentos), arquitecturas del sometimiento o las carreras por la altura del siglo XX y ahora del siglo XXI, son sólo algunos ejemplos de cómo el poder se ve reflejado en la arquitectura, y como la voluntad de unos pocos, o en ocasiones un solo individuo, puede dictar el porvenir de la construcción y transformación del espacio habitable y del territorio. Así, el abandono de lo monumental (o en el caso específico de los ‘espacios suspendidos’ un abandono prematuro, lo monumental inacabado), deviene entonces desde el punto de vista del poder que lo promueve una derrota, pero a la par representa también una especie de triunfo, de pequeño ejercicio de justicia, o incluso de esperanza, visto desde el punto de vista del ‘sometido’, o bien de aquel que no tiene acceso a ese concepto abstracto llamado poder. Un simbolismo que crece, irónicamente, de manera proporcional al tamaño de las aspiraciones originales de la construcción, o bien de manera proporcional al ego del indi


viduo, grupo o institución que la ha impulsado. De este modo, estas construcciones se convierten en verdaderos monumentos, pero que ahora sirven para recordar algo distinto a su intención original. Un monumento que, de simbolizar las ideas tras las cuales fue concebido, como puede ser la demostración del músculo económico o del poder político de un líder o una institución, o la simbolización misma de progreso, pasa a simbolizar el abuso, el derroche, el retroceso o la mala planeación, o el motivo mismo de un cambio. Monumentos pues, que deberían servir como importantes lecciones, que a diferencia de la historia escrita, son recordatorios físicos, inmóviles, visibles, constantes y en ocasiones aún rescatables. Una especie de entropía encarnada, que sin embargo bien podría, en algunos casos, revertirse.


Esta posible reversión tal vez comience con otro acto simple pero igualmente emblemático: la reclamación, (re)apropiación y/o ocupación. Y es que el hecho del fracaso original no únicamente se trata, en ocasiones como el caso del complejo hotelero arriba descrito, de un verdadero milagro ambiental o una demostración de un camino que tal vez sea mejor evitar y por supuesto repetir, sino que la transformación de estos espacios, frecuentemente iniciada por una pequeña llama encarnada en quien se apropia de ellos, representa también una oportunidad, y visto desde cierto punto de vista, una esperanza, ya sea humana o natural.

Esta sección es un experimento.


Al trabajar, constantemente se realizan pruebas, ensayos, investigaciones, y pequeñas series que probablemente no cuadran dentro de la estructura tradicional de obra, o pertenecen a una categoría "menor", menos extensa, más inmediata. Exploraciones cortas, veloces o parciales. También hay notas que sirven al resto del cuerpo de trabajo y ayudan a dibujar un panorama más amplio de la obra, incluso para el propio autor. Ya la obra misma, a pesar de su común clasificación en series, frecuentemente se cruza, entrelaza, relaciona, toca y dialoga de manera directa e indirecta, dando lugar a imágenes y objetos que perfectamente podrían pertenecer a más de un título o categoría.

Las series cortas, notas y textos dentro de este formato de blog, son un intento por complementar la sección de "Obra", sin asignarles necesariamente el peso que tradicionalmente dicha clasificación conlleva, y al mismo tiempo una pequeña biblioteca personal de ideas, referencias, y otros materiales complementarios.


//


This section is an experiment.


When working, one constantly does an array of tests, trials, essays, investigations and short series that probably don't exactly fit the traditional structure of "work", or could be said to pertain to a "lower" category, one not as extensive and more immediate. There are also notes that are in service to the rest of the body of work and help define a broader and clearer panorama, including for the author. The Work itself, despite its common classification into series, frequently crosses, touches, dialogues and interwines with itself both directly an indirectly, giving birth to images and objects that could perfectly fit more than a single "series" or title.

These short series, notes and texts in blog format, are an attempt to complement the WORKS section of this site, without necessarily assigning them the full weight that such a classification traditionally would entail, while at the same time serving as a small personal library of ideas, references and other complementary materials.

Reflections on the phenomenon of the unfinished, the monumental, the abandonement and the appropiation.

(text from 2013)


TEXTO ORIGINAL EN ESPAÑOL ABAJO


At around 6 pm, 1.5 hours before it turns pitch black, a group of 3 people are going on a motorboat towards what is known in the town as the ‘abandoned hotel’. Some distance away, as we get closer to it, the hotel complex crowned by a tower comes into view, ever bigger… bigger even than what one might have imagined after hearing the story of power, megalomania and corruption behind this place.


When we get to a point where the boat can no longer go on due to lack of depth, we are forced to get out and cross the rest of the lagoon on foot, and as we reach the land, such is the degree to which nature has reclaimed the place that our guide, who has been there more than eight times, can’t seem to find the way in. Certain stories we’ve heard along with the absolute isolation of the place create a strong feeling of tension. Finally, machete in hand, our guide finds the entrance and we follow him.


As he opens up the way, he warns us of possible (small) crocodiles, so we should watch our step. These animals, which originally didn’t belong in the lagoon, arrived when a governor, after taking the land from owners and workers, decided to build, among other eccentricities, a crocodile pond inside what could have been one of the biggest hotel complexes in the country, should it have been finished. One day the lagoon rose, and the captive inhabitants escaped.


Finally we’re able to cross a stone bridge that used to go over the once (though briefly) crocodile filled pond and observe part of the complex. It seems so big that in the less than two hours available, it will be impossible to visit it all, much less photograph it. As we head to the main plaza access, a loud and repetitive metallic noise starts to be heard… As my companions go into the plaza and ask aloud to see if there is somebody there, I start to set the tripod and 4x5 camera, and so starts also a race against time to walk through and photograph some of the spaces of the complex, which half reclaimed by nature, is now closer to a labyrinth than a hotel.


Towards the end of the daylight, as we stand on the top of the highest tower, we watch among the dense vegetation a person carrying scraps of what would have served as railings, had the hotel been finished. Apparently, those ominous smashing noises were no more than those of a person reclaiming part of what had been previously taken from him… According to testimonies, a couple months before being finished and inaugurated, the governor -owner and main investor-, was convicted due to links with the narc. Still, construction works went on for a whole two months without the workers being told about it, and without them being paid a single cent of those final weeks worth of work. And so this building, which was weeks away from being finished and causing a true environmental catastrophe, is being little by little devoured by both man and nature, each reclaiming their own. A complex that shows, on multiple levels, that progress sometimes moves in the opposite direction of what modernity usually prognoses, sells and (usually) imposes.

_______

Even though when I started ‘Suspended Spaces’ I had a relatively clear idea of a few of the economical, social and even political implications some of these places might have, the development of the project itself and the constant physical exploration of them –something not void of a frequent sense of danger-, have led me to formulate a series of questions and provoked a series of reflections, some of which I try to explore in this brief text.


On the one hand, although ‘Suspended Spaces’ explores a type of architectural abandonment that is different from the ‘common’ one, even this second type of abandonment has triggered in me a deeper personal interest, due especially to the ever bigger presence of this kind of image in the media, with a clear emphasis on photography. What is it that makes the idea of abandonment so explored and exploited? Why is it that the image of a deserted, eroded and ruined place results so attractive to so many people, in so many different contexts?


The idea of the abandonment, enhanced by the direct and primitive character of the image, seems to provoke a series of also primal reactions In the viewer, some of which acquire a still bigger enhancement in today’s context of global uncertainty. It is no coincidence that innumerable tv series, movies and more and more photographic works, not to mention movements like the urbex, take place in scenarios with a post-apocalyptic appearance.


Besides the strong emotional and historical echoes that images of this kind generate, reminding on one hand of (both real and imaginary) life stories and the inhabitation of these spaces, and on the other of catastrophic scenarios such as armed conflicts and natural disasters, this second kind of ideas stir memories of pain and/or insecurity, and maybe precisely due to the sum of all of this, the idea of abandonment ends up, paradoxically, transmitting a two sided emotion, causing the spectator to feel both nostalgia, as well as fear and uncertainty, or even loneliness.


A second paradox that arises when trying to analyse the idea of uncertainty, is that this might not even be repelled by the viewer, but could even be longed for. Uncertainty wouldn’t necessarily represent a negative emotion, but occasionally could well signify a type of fictitious scape valve, a scenario close to the idea of the ‘State of Nature’ as discussed by Thomas Hobbes or John Locke, in which the notion of authority, government, law and social contract has been diluted, and so a more primary state of human, natural and –again- social relationship takes place. Once again, it is no coincidence that the increase in the interest in, and/or the attraction to this kind of scenarios emerges in a historical moment of great uncertainty. A time when huge sectors of the population express great discontent with the state of things, and with the prospect of the social, economical, environmental and even food related issues. In a world where privacy in ever reduced, where the methods of power and control exercised by governments and big corporations grow and multiply, where the disparity in the distributions of wealth, resources and opportunities, and thus the difference in power, seem to increase, and where the effects of the environmental policies (or lack thereof) have an ever bigger tangible impact, the idea of an escape, a kind of tabula rasa or cultural revolution, might just represent a prospect which for some could be more attractive than repulsive, even if this meant a true human catharsis/crisis. All of this is, of course, in great part fictitious, but still helps to understand the apparently big seductive power of the idea of abandonment in an image.


This would also explain why this seductive power multiplies when intersecting with the monumental. It is indisputable that architecture once and again is used as a physical incarnation of power. The big pyramids, cathedrals, the great monuments to political leaders (sometimes self-monuments), architectures of submission or the race for height in the XX Century, and now on the XXI, are just some examples of how power is reflected in architecture, and how the will of a few, or occasionally of one, can dictate the future of the construction of the habitable world and the transformation of the landscape. Thus, the abandonment of the monumental (or in the specific case of the ‘Suspended spaces’, the premature abandonment, or the monumental unfinished), becomes from the point of view of the one in power a defeat, but simultaneously a sort of triumph, a small exercise of justice, or even hope, looked at from the point of view of the ‘subjugated’, that who has no access to the abstract entity called power. A symbolism that only grows, ironically enough, proportionally to the size of the original aspirations of the construction, or proportionally to the ego of the individual, group or institution that has promoted it.


This way, these constructions become true monuments, although now they help remember something very different from their original purpose. A monument, that from symbolizing the ideas after which it was conceived, such as the showcase of the economic muscle or the political power of a leader or institution, or even the symbolization of progress itself, now symbolizes the abuse, the waste of resources, the retrogression, the bad planning, or the motive for change. Monuments, which therefore should serve as important lessons that unlike written history, are physical, immobile, visible, constant and on occasion salvageable reminders. A kind of incarnated entropy that could in some cases, nevertheless, be reverted.

This possible reversion, meanwhile, might start with another simple but equally emblematic act: reclaiming, (re)appropriation and/or occupation. The fact of the original failure doesn´t only mean, as is the case of the hotel complex described above, a true environmental miracle or evidence of a road that we might be better off avoiding and of course repeating, but it also means that the transformation of these spaces, frequently started by a small spark incarnated in whomever appropriates them, represents also a chance, and looked at from a certain point of view, a kind of hope, be it human or natural.

 © 2020 Patrick López Jaimes