At Princeton School for Architecture, students have set up the Organization for Spatial Practice. Architecture should vacate its claim to the production of socially engaging and culturally progressive spatial situations. At the inaugural project of this ‘new disciplines’ they ask participants to commit economic suicide: social status is determined by how much wealth is given as gifts to others, as opposed to accumulated for oneself.
Manifesto of the Organization for Spatial Practice
1. Architecture has abdicated its capacity for social agency.
1A. During the 2008 (-ongoing) financial crisis an equally devastating architectural crisis occured, pulling the curtain away from the alignment of architecture and capitalism: Architecture has become a Form of Capitalism.
1B. Redefiniton of Architecture: (noun) 1. an investment vehicle for the transformation of one unit of currency into multiple units of currency 2. a product resulting from the accumulation of capital to the threshold where it becomes material form.
1C. We have arrived at a state in which architecture has neutered itself, incapable of activism within the conditions of the market under the regime of neoliberal capitalism.
1D. Architecture is notoriously slow and client-initiated, while activism is fast, agile, and self-initiated. Architecture is an indirect action, alienated (since Alberti) from construction, while activism works with Direct Action. Architecture creates power and capital for someone else, whereas activism makes a power claim and asserts an authority to control power and capital.
2. This is a situation beyond redemption.
2A. Rather than attempting to separate architecture and capital, a new discipline will emerge to fill the void left when architecture fully vacates its claim to the production of socially engaging and culturally progressive spatial situations.
2B. Emerging with the political mission of exploring methods of non-capitalist economies, this new discipline is equally tangent to the current disciplines of architecture, performance, installation, graphic design, publication, curating, analytical criticism, and administration – which is called Spatial Practice.
3. The inaugural project of this discipline is a Potlatch event, on Saturday May 18, 2-6 PM, in a pavilion designed to occupy the School of Architecture at Princeton University.
3A. The Potlatch is a ceremonial gift-exchange performance event, originating in Northwest Native American and Pacific Island cultures – in which social status is determined by how much wealth is given as gifts to others, as opposed to accumulated for oneself – where an individual, family, or community commits economic suicide by gifting as much of their wealth as they are willing, to everyone else. This small-scale iteration is used as a model for shifting cultural attitudes towards gift exchange, rather than pecuniary exchange.
3B. The Potlatch Pavilion is an inflatable environment, temporary and agile, in which the ceremonial gift exchange will unfold as a social ecosystem.