A collaboration project between Wai Architecture Think Tank and United Nude
//// Other worlds are possible…
Although this collaboration was created before the vital recent manifestations demanding justice and dignity for Black Lives, this project echoes the urgent need to radically reimagine tomorrow.
Born out of the disruption brought in by the global COVID-19 pandemic, this narrative is a call to rethink the ways in which we live, imagine, produce, and share. It is a speculative invitation to question our means of production while creating and fostering new networks of solidarity.
Against the excess and wastefulness of fast fashion, A PHANTASTIC ODYSSEY is a visual manifesto for radically diverse and sustainable futures. The series joins through a visually speculative scenario Achille Mbembe’s analysis on ‘Bodies, Statues, and Effigies’, the Dries Van Noten-initiated Open Letter to the Fashion Industry, Giorgio Armani’s invitation to “realign everything’, Lidewij Edelkoort request to “slow down and change our ways”, and builds on Dieter Rams ethos “less, but better.”
A collaboration between Cruz Garcia & Nathalie Frankowski / WAI Architecture Think Tank and Rem D. Koolhaas / United Nude, in A PHANTASTIC ODYSSEY design across different scales gears humanity in its struggle against superfluity. The series is a combination of WAI’s post-colonial collages that highlight the clash between pure architectural form, ideological monuments, and nature, and Koolhaas’ designs that employ pure form as the guiding principle of shoes, furniture, and cars. The series challenges the role of the architect as a behind-the-scenes orchestrator as Garcia & Frankowski become the subjects of the narrative, and the role of architecture’s monumentality, as pure forms oscillate from the shoe scale, to buildings that exist without spoliating the landscapes they occupy.
As the subjects move across tropical landscapes—as the ones historically threatened by the empty promises of progress and unsustainable development—pure geometric forms act simultaneously as camouflage, clothing, and architectural iconography. Recalling some of the most radical architectures of the 20th Century, the series present designs which are still relevant after decades and Koolhaas’s Lo-Res car searching for radical manifestations of hardcore form. The shoes, artifacts, and buildings in A PHANTASTIC ODYSSEY are all part of a search for fundamental efficiency for that what ultimately remains.
The PHANTASTIC in its ancient spelling demands to “make visible” not only the pure forms that allow design to transcend the impasse of seasonal trends and momentary styles, but the bodies that produce and wear these designs. Against a global condition of alienation, collaboration is the ultimate sign of solidarity. Against a global system of excess, timeless design is one of the ultimate forms of sustainability. Through the combination of pure forms, avant-garde imagery, A PHANTASTIC ODYSSEY frames a journey through the beginning of new worlds.
[On a self-assembled Loudreading stage built with spare parts from the past]
Built by the Loudreaders / A fragile stage frames / Landscapes without qualities / A play is performed / After / Victory / Over / The / Sun
[Among Monuments and Icons on a lake]
Standing on the Red Wedge, / A submerged bust, / An arm pointing progressively, / Pedestals stacked in the background, / A black shape pierces through / the thick foliage / like a sickle
SCENE 3 + 4
[In the atelier, between marble pedestals and blackprints]
Marble pedestals carry / Blackprints and prototypes / Suspended racks dry / Hundreds of leaves / A novel shape is carved / New worlds are in the making
[In the atelier filled with tropical plants]
With the first victory / The smells of spring / And moist soil / And Cubes / And Pyramids / And Spheres
[In the laboratory, a poster of Luisa Capetillo and a large mirror on the wall]
On the table / Meticulous manufacture, / Icons plastered / Reclaiming forms of surveillance, / Devices and architectural anti-matter / On the wall, / Drawings, collages / of anti-decentralized icons
[Back in the jungle atop of a Floating Fortress]
Intelligence (Data) is harvested / Like the Sun and Water and Wind / Like the Corn and Tobacco and Coffee / Only some deciphered how to spin / Oscillate, float, overlook / Camouflage, overtake, overrun
[Across from the Bay of the Coco Hotel]
Forms can also be harvested / Historically / Only the powerful know to do so / In the struggle masked people / Would have to learn new tricks / How to rotate and handle pure shapes / How to create new narratives / How to disappear in the jungle / How not to be seen
[On an amphibian fortress strayed on a mangrove]
In a smooth motion / Sliding in a crunching sound / Imperceptible to the totems still standing / The black shape / A pixel on a datascape / Lo resolution / Roaming through the phantastic landscapes / Like Ulysses or Odiseo
[In front of the Loudreading stage]
Hunters, hackers, / Gather a fruitful harvest / Grow a collection / Of avant-garde avatars / And icons, / And stratagems, / And plans, / As in a roadside picnic / The stage frames simulacra / looping / ad infinitum
[In a landscape with qualities]
As the jungle / And the rainforest / And psychogreographic maps / And geopolitical struggles / And black masks / And bodies / And effigies / Render this kynical narrative / Forms consolidate under the Sun / As the wind / Sculpts black flags
About WAI ARCHITECTURE THINK TANK
Co-founded by Puerto Rican architect, artist, curator, author, educator, and theorist Cruz Garcia and French architect, artist, curator, author, educator, and poet Nathalie Frankowski, WAI Architecture Think Tank is a workshops for architectural intelligentsia working across different platforms to ask critical questions about the
role of architecture, art and pedagogy in the construction of new worlds. Founded in 2008, the work of WAI Think Tank / Garcia Frankowski has been exhibited at international festivals and Biennales including the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Shenzhen/Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale as well as at the Museum of Modern Art New York, Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology in Lisbon, Neues Museum Nuremberg, Vitra Design Museum in Weilm am Rhein, Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art in Manchester.
Wai Architecture Think Tank's website is linked here.