The revelation. It happened at Pilot Mountain Road, crossing the vast plain framed by mountains. The sun was high and I remember thinking: 'It must be midnight in Lisbon.' The temperature was 43C. The air was very dry. I realized I was in a state of hyper awareness. The senses stretched without obstacles. In this place of absence one feels as if in infinite purity. In this place I understood the ascetics.
This railroad crossing is the only urban remain of the town of Lucin. It was founded as a watering station for steam locomotives, the Lucin Ponds were reservoirs of the water collected through a pipeline from the melting snows of the nearby Pilot Mountain Range. Where the ponds used to be there are clumps of surprisingly tall cottonwood trees. They are now protected as an important resting site for migratory songbirds, attracted by this small patch of shade and water in the Great Basin Desert. On our way to see Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels we waved hello to the railroad engineer inspecting this crossing. We had to drive three hours until crossing paths with another car, the driver waved hello and we waved back. I imagine that we too were the first people he saw in hours.
The water at Rozel Point is not bright red anymore, but muted pink. At the time I visited the weather was stormy, the sun was heavily veiled by multiple layers of clouds and rainstorms in the distance. The experience was not of horror, on the contrary, but of beauty. This mobile phone photo doesn't do justice to an environment that seemed to be painted by J.M.W.Turner after having borrowed Agnes Martin's palette. I was still surprised to see such an animated landscape, which changed so quickly. Moments before, crossing the ranches framed by the Promontory Mountains, I had seen a 'dust devil' for the first time in my life, a whirlwind raising suddenly a dancing body of sand, which raised two arms in the air. It seemed alive and wickedly happy.
The Spiral Jetty seems to be a device to promote a journey through a series of historical sites. It has the effect of bringing past events to our present experience, and in that sense is a Kublerian work. Driving from Salt Lake City for a couple of hours it takes us to the Golden Spike National Monument, and the history of the Union Pacific Railway. Smithson built his work on the centennial of the railway connection between the East and West coasts of the United States. Moreover, the first jetty we see when arriving to Rozel Point is the ruin of a former oil drilling site. In 1970, the Spiral Jetty was situated on a terrifying site, with blood red water, caused by the Lucin Cutoff, an engineering 'earthwork' in which a railway line cut the Great Salt Lake in two. The oil prospection at the site continued up to the end of the 20th century. Here we only see remains, but a few decades ago this place smelled of crude oil and was scattered with dead birds.
While in NYC, in transit to Salt Lake City, I was lucky to see John Baldessari's exhibition 'Paintings, 1966-68'. It comprised a series of paintings that Baldessari showed in his first solo show at Molly Barnes Gallery in 1968. I primarily went to see 'Painting for Kubler', Baldessari's homage to the simultaneously famous and arcane historian, I thought that this painting would set the beginning of the trip. In retrospect, I can see that 'Pure Beauty' was surprisingly present in many instances of the journey.
I am happy to announce that I was the recipient of the Fernando Távora Prize 2016/17 in the beginning of April.
The prize consists on a travel grant for research purposes. I proposed an itinerary between Salt Lake City and White Sands, which was extended to Marfa and Austin. I will be following the footsteps of Reyner Banham and George Kubler, among others.
The winner presents the results of his travel in a public lecture in October on the occasion of the World Architecture Day.
I will pe posting about the trip in this blog and on my instagram page.
The second event related to the exhibition The Shape of Plain took place on December 14, a roundtable with the participation of Joana Cunha Leal, João Vieira Caldas, Jorge Figueira e Sérgio Fazenda Rodrigues.
The Shape of Plain exhibition hosted the first of its program of open lectures last week. The talk was given by Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen of Yale School of Architecture. It illuminated on the influence of George Kubler's book The Shape of Time had on American architecture in the 1960s. Most specifically on the work of Eero Saarinen. Attention was placed on ideas about hybridity and ambiguity, that are present in Robert Venturi's 1966 book Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture.
Please bear in mind that the next event will take place on December 14, at Museu Gulbenkian. It will be a round table where the idea of 'Plain Arts' will be discussed by João Vieira Caldas, Joana Cunha Leal, Sérgio Fazenda Rodrigues and Jorge Figueira.
Together with a wonderful group of scholars, architects and artists, I will participate at the Third International Conference on Architecture and Gender, this time aptly titled MORE: Merge, Open, Resignify. Expand.
It will take place at UniFi School of Architecture in Florence on 26-28 January 2017. I am looking forward to this conference, since I have participated in all International Conferences on Architecture and Gender, and it is wonderful to see this project unfold.
This is the beginning of my letter to the mayor of Lisbon, part of the event and exhibition 'Letters to the Mayor' curated by Ivo Poças Martins and part of the Lisbon Architecture Triennial 2016. All participants in this year's Triennial were invited to write a letter to the mayor of Lisbon expressing their concerns and/or desires about the city.
'Letters to the Mayor' is an initiative of the Storefront for Art and Architecture to catalyse the dialogue between designers and political authorities. Since 2014 this event has happened in various cities, such as New York, Panama City, Mariupol, Bogotá, Taipei, Athens, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Madrid and São Paulo.
The design team of the Gulbenkian Museum made this wonderful teaser trailer for the exhibition "The Shape of Plain."
Together with Susanne Bauer, I'll be chairing a panel in the next CAA 2017 Annual Conference in New York City. Here is the schedule:
GLOBALIZED REGIONALISM AND MODERNIST AESTHETICS IN THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
Time: 02/15/2017: 10:30AM—12:00PM
Location: Gramercy B/East, 2nd Floor
Chairs: Susanne Bauer, Federal University of Uberlandia; Eliana Sousa Santos, University of Coimbra
Doxiadis’ “entopia”; an Early Version of Globalized Regionalism
Costandis Kizis, Architectural Association School of Architecture
Crafting Modernities: ‘Vernacular’ Architectures in the Interwar Years
Theodossios Issaias, Yale School of Architecture
From Knowledge Transfer to Knowledge Flows: Non-Western Modernist Models
Mónica Pacheco, ISCTE-IUL
The Uses of Regionalism in (Post-)Yugoslavian Discourse on Mass Housing
Lea Horvat, University of Hamburg
In this blog I will keep you posted with the latest news about my work.